Senior judge in Samoa takes Ministry to task over paraquat


Senior Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson has taken to task the recent claims by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries that there is no evidence to ban paraquat. He labeled the continued practice of importing the chemical into Samoa as borderline criminal.

Justice Vui wrote to the MAF, asking why there were no public consultations and why the judiciary was not approached to gather data when their consultants were tasked to look for data that would show deaths and the harm done by paraquat.

The ministry said in a statement that they had engaged consultants who found no data to back claims by groups that advocate banning the hazardous weedkiller paraquat.

MAF said they do not have the data to support such a call, and any proposition as such will be carefully considered.

The push to ban the toxic chemical comes on the back of calls by different organizations, including the judiciary that paraquat is widely used to commit suicide and to kill dogs.

Justice Vui, provided a list in his letter from the coroner’s records of people whose death was caused by paraquat.

He presented figures from 2004 to 2018, which showed 74 deaths, the youngest being a 12-year-old girl and said the latest coroner’s reports would have more.

“I would have thought that as the proponents of the analysis, the onus is on you and the researchers to investigate, collect and collate the necessary evidence and data before drawing your conclusions,” wrote Justice Vui.

He added that it is concerning and borderline criminal that, after all these years, the Ministry continues to import, license, sell and most significantly, inadequately monitor in practice the use of a deadly poison outlawed in many countries of the world, including Pacific neighbors.

“They have no difficulty securing alternative weed-killing pesticides, a task that seems beyond your capability,” he wrote.