2 Jul 2004

Reverse NZ visa ruling, says Samoa lobby group

10:18 am on 2 July 2004

The spokesperson for the lobby group, Mau Sitiseni Niu Sila Mo Samoa, is warning the New Zealand government that legal action could follow if moves to gain visa-free entry for Samoans is denied.

On Wednesday at least five thousand people protested on the issue at Government Building in Samoa.

Visa-free status had been granted in 1962 but the provision was dropped 20 years later when New Zealand introduced legislation stripping citizenship from Samoans born between 1924 and 1948.

Visekota Peteru says she hopes the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi will pass the submissions onto his New Zealand counterpart, Helen Clark.

Miss Clark will hand over to Tuilaepa the chairpersons role of the Pacific Islands Forum when the leaders meet in Apia in five weeks.

Ms Peteru says the lobby group's last resort would be legal action.

"We'll be looking at international human rights tribunals to take this matter to. But we don't want to; we're hoping that it will end here, that both governments will see that this matter has been around for long enough, that it can be resolved."