22 Mar 2006

Samoa police boss rejects US jail report

6:50 pm on 22 March 2006

Samoa's police commissioner, Papali'i Lorenese Neru, is rejecting a US State Department report on human rights which said that prison conditions in Samoa are deteriorating.

In a letter to the American Samoa Tribune newspaper, Papali'i said the Ministry of Police, Prison and Fire is seeking to address the prison conditions.

He says it has sought funding for later this year to upgrade the facilities, in addition to funding already allocated to build additional cells.

The State Department report says prison cells in Samoa held about 15 inmates each and that most of the cells had gravel floors, no toilets, poor ventilation and low lighting.

However, Papali'i says there are no gravel floors in the accommodation areas for the prison and there are up to 15 prisoners kept in large cells, which can accommodate up to 25 prisoners.

He says cells and security blocks have separate toilet facilities and the rooms are well lit and ventilated.

The Commissioner says he was never approached by the State Department regarding prison conditions.