13 Oct 2004

American Samoa lawyers warned to be careful over documentation for children

10:32 am on 13 October 2004

Lawyers in American Samoa are being warned to be careful about the documentation they're prepared to sign on behalf of infants and children.

The caution comes from the chief justice, Michael Kruse, who's set up a taskforce to review child trafficking problems due to what he calls a growing problem of infants being sent illegally off-island for adoptions.

The new taskforce will develop suggestions for existing statutes and court rules.

Our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, says in the interim, Justice Kruse, is warning attorneys to obtain permission from the court before filing adoption petitions.

"He's also cautioned attorneys who have been preparing and signing guardianship for infants and minors to travel off-island that only the court can issue such documents. These documents are required so that the attorney general's office can issue a certificate of identity."

Fili Sagapolutele says some attorneys have been signing guardianship documents without the courts consent.