Domestic Case Law

Republic v Arawaia Court of Appeal of Kiribati (2013)

Sexual violence and rape

Mr. Arawaia plead guilty to indecent assault and defilement involving the repeated rape of the 12 year old grand daughter of his wife. When the girl told her grandmother, Mr. Arawaia’s wife, of the rapes, Mr. Arawaia apologized. Later Mar. Arawaia wanted the victim to sleep with him, and the victim’s grandmother told her to do so. The victim was again raped by Mr. Arawaia. The High Court, in sentencing Mr. Arawaia, considered Mr. Arawaia’s early plea, the seriousness of the case, and also Mr. Arawaia’s apology to the girl. Ms. Beiatau, arguing for the Republic, appealed on the grounds that the sentence was manifestly inadequate. Ms. Beiatau argued that due to the rising prevalence of sexual offences in Kiribati, sentencing guidelines were needed. She further contended that the High Court erred in considering Mr. Arawaia’s apology to the girl a mitigating factor. Relying on Kimaere v The Republic, a Kiribati Court of Appeal decision from 2005, and sentencing standards set in New Zealand and Australia, the Kiribati Court of Appeal found that a five year prison sentence was an appropriate starting point in defilement cases. The Court noted that where multiple offenses are considered, it is more important to proportion the entire length of the sentence to the entirety of the defendants conduct, rather than worrying about adding together the sentences for each offense. Determining that Mr. Arawaia’s conduct justified a prison sentence of seven to eight years, the Court then discounted his sentence, for his early plea, to an increased total of five years. The Court found Mr. Arawaia’s apology to have been incorrectly considered a mitigating factor. The Court also held that the starting point for the indecent assault charges would have been two and a half years before discounting for mitigating factors