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The Revolt of the Samoans

The Right of Trial for Europeans and Samoans

The Right of Trial for Europeans and Samoans

The Labour Party insists that the Europeans in Samoa when accused of having committed offences against the law must be given the same full right of trial that prevails in New Zealand. As I have already written, the laws made by us for the administration of Samoa page 15 are so far-reaching and so extremely stringent, that it is practically impossible for any proved offender to escape. But, because the Administration cannot bring proof against any of its political opponents that they have broken the law, power is now taken to deport men for no other offence than constitutional opposition to the Government. During the various proceedings in the House relating to Samoa, I made repeated attempts to get from the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, the Minister of External Affairs, and others some definite statement of the acts alleged to have been committed in Samoa and the individuals by whom they were committed, but in every caee the replies were evasive. The Minister of External Affairs made one very emphatic reply to my query for definite information. "I am not going to waste any time on the hon. gentleman," he said. Because the Labour Party raises objection to the Government's wholly indefensible methods of dealing with its political opponents among the Europeans, we are sometimes met with the spiteful and silly untruth that we are taking sides with the capitalists of Samoa. When we further insist that the Samoan Natives must be accorded the same right of trial that we demand for the Europeans-that the Samoans must not be banished from their homes, villages, and islands without any form of trial, that they must not be deprived of their titles and ordered to change their names and thus be subjected to shame and degradation, we are told that we are encouraging disaffection on the part of the Natives. Now, the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand Administration in Samoa both claim that the Europeans are wholly responsible for the present inflamed position there. It is true they have neyer yet made a specific charge against any individual European; but, if as they say the Europeans are solely to blame, they have yet to explain why they are inflicting a multitude of punishments and degradations on the Samoans because of what the Europeans have done. From 1924 up to the sitting of the Joint Samoa Committee, between 20 and 30 chiefs had suffered imprisonment, banishment, deprivation of titles and change of names, and other indignities; and in no case where banishment or degradation was inflicted was there even the semblance of a trial. If we should attempt to apply to the Maoris the laws that we are applying in Samoa, or ii we should inflict upon the Maori chiefs the punishments and degradations that we are inflicting upon the chiefs of Samoa, we should be lighting the fires of rebellion in the Maori strongholds.