28 Jan 2006

American Samoa High Court castigates immigration

8:25 am on 28 January 2006

The High Court in American Samoa continues to criticise the failure of the Immigration Office, as it sees it, to monitor visitors to the territory who overstay, with a good number of them ending up before the court in connection with serious criminal offences.

The court's concerns were once again raised by Chief Justice Michael Kruse during sentencing yesterday of Paulo Afiafi, 38, for sodomising two children.

Afiafi, a citizen of Samoa, entered the territory on a 30-day permit in September 2004 and has been in Pago Pago illegally for more than a year.

While Chief Justice Kruse called the actions of Afiafi disgusting, he said the court was even more dismayed at what he called the "hopelessness of immigration" to perform its duties.

The Samoa News newspaper quoted Justice Kruse as saying that not only were the overstayers crowding the only prison in Pago Pago, but they were also burdening government agencies.