2 Aug 2005

Samoa restates that military ID insufficient as travel document for American Samoans

12:27 pm on 2 August 2005

The head of Samoa's immigration authorities, Vaasatia Poloma Komiti, has restated that Samoa does not recognize military ID cards carried by American Samoan soldiers as documents equivalent to passports.

This follows comments by American Samoan lawmakers who say local reservists encountered problems traveling to and from Iraq via Apia in Samoa.

Vaasatia says Samoa does not have reciprocal travel arrangements with the US that obligates it to recognize military identification.

The Samoa official said that the common practice in such cases is that American Samoa immigration authorities intervene and discuss the matter with counterparts in Apia.

Last month, when Hawaiian Air flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago were full, a group of American Samoa reservists returning for family emergencies had to travel via Apia.

They were held up at the airport because they did not have passports, just their military ID's and personnel orders.