The Coroners Act 2017 (Coroners Act) provides for a coronial system in Samoa to investigate sudden or unexplained deaths or deaths in special circumstances through inquiries and inquests to help prevent deaths in circumstances similar to those deaths.
The Coroner’s Court provides a broad range of services to the community by recognizing the need to assist bereaved families to understand the coronial investigation process. The cornerstone of coronial inquiry is to provide a thorough and impartial service to the community when investigating the circumstances in which people die.
The Coroner’s Court is less formal than other Courts. It is not bound by the laws of evidence and is not too technical or legalistic. In making a decision the Court can also make recommendations to any relevant authorities that may result in changes to laws or practices in order to prevent similar deaths in the future. Inquests will usually be held in a place that is open to the public. However, the Coroner may exclude persons from all or any part of the inquest hearing if deemed appropriate.
It is not the Coroner’s role to establish whether a crime has been committed or to find a person guilty of that crime. Nor is it the Coroner’s role to make judgments about matters of civil liability.
A Coroner may also hold an inquiry so as to determine the cause and origin of a fire and as to the effectiveness or otherwise of the measures taken to deal with the fire.