Wednesday, 15 April 2009 5:52 AM

Discussion Over Criminal Report on Samoa

A report by Television New Zealand of allegations of a criminal culture in Samoa has generated shocked responses from within and outside of Samoa. However, TVNZ is standing by its report.

The news report told of an existing drugs and guns culture in Samoa with images of men clad in masks and brandishing machetes and guns.

Following the broadcast, among concerns raised, there were also been allegations that the images were staged and not the real thing.

The men who apparently were shown as part of gangs later apologized to the country claiming they were misled and were told to act like they were gangsters and were told that the news crew were filming round the Pacific and looking at the different weapons each country used. They said they were horrified when they saw the report and how they had been portrayed.

According to the Samoa Observer, TVNZ is standing by the report and its reporter, Barbara Dreaver, who covered the story, stating, "TVNZ stands by the investigative story it aired on Monday night at 6pm (NZT) exposing gangs engaged in smuggling drugs and guns into Samoa from NZ and the USA ."

"We believe the story was a very real, accurate and fair portrayal of the criminal activity happening in Samoa and will continue to follow this story as it unfolds."

According to the report, Ms. Dreaver stated, "I am sure there will be talk that the item was exaggerated. I can assure you, it was not."

They only thing I can tell you is information which has been made public," she said.
"That is ...50% of the illicit gun trade is coming from China. Hard drugs are coming from NZ for some of the Samoan dealers. A lot of trade of methamphetamines is coming from China through Samoa and then to NZ for sale.

Dreaver noted that the " illicit gun trade has been going on for years' and that she has spoken to family members who brought them into Samoa."


Meanwhile, according to the Samoa Observer, the Tautua Samoa Party Chairman, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, has called for a special investigation into the TVNZ report stating, "If all this turns out to be something that was staged, we should demand an apology from TVNZ for the damage done to the country's image or take legal action against them."

The television company's pacific reporter, Ms. Barbara Dreaver, could also find herself banned from the country to atone for the damages caused by the report.

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