24 Feb 2006

ASAM congressman says locals would be better served having own federal court

6:26 pm on 24 February 2006

The American Samoan Congressman has told a public hearing that locals' hopes of getting a a fair trial are lessened by not having a federal court in the territory.

Faleomavega Eni Hunkin was speaking at a joint hearing by the House and Senate Judiciary committees concerning his bill.

He says having an American Samoan federal court would allow local residents to be charged and prosecuted locally and would allow them to be judged by a jury of their peers.

At the moment American Samoans are tried at the Federal Court in Hawaii.

"At any given time the FBI can come in tomorrow and take anyone of us here and take them to the Federal District Court in Hawaii to be tried there. The reputation of our Samoan people there is not exactly positive in terms of the eyes of the people in Hawaii. We are violent, we are trouble-makers, that is the sterotype that people in Hawaii have towards our people."