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Jailed Samoa citizens sent home after Atoa o Samoa talks agreement


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A discussion that took place during the recent Atoa o Samoa talks ongoing collaboration between the Department of Legal Affairs and the Samoa Consul General and government officials has resulted in 20 Samoa citizens jailed at the Tafuna Correctional Facility being returned home. 

According to the fifth Atoa o Samoa Executive Meeting outcome statement, 19 inmates were returned in 2023. From January to April 2024 at least 20 inmates have returned to Samoa, the outcome statement confirmed. 

Local residents have long complained that the territory’s correctional facility has been over-populated with Samoa citizens that should be deported instead. However, latest statistics have shown this to be untrue, with data showing American Samoa nationals leads the current prison population, with Samoa citizens second, Tongans are third, and “others” at fourth.

In terms of incarceration complaints, a leading one noted by the court is that returning Samoa prisoners, who also seem to be overstayers, are stymied by their lack of legal documents to return them to Samoa, i.e. valid passport or any type of identification.

In terms of border security, the two Samoas noted the welfare and safety of citizens is paramount in any national setting.

The Samoa Observer is reporting that K9 training opportunities have been offered to Samoa Custom’s K9 handlers as Samoa gets closer to hosting the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October. 

On health, the overarching objective to formalize commitments through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two Samoas to maximize the benefits of collaborative efforts in health and medicine was discussed. This includes exchanging specialized medical personnel and services and sharing health information.

In the area of education, the meeting noted the pending approval of American Samoa Department of Education’s education standards by the Samoa Qualifications Authority.