15 Jun 2009

American Samoa's congressional delegate proposes extension of High Court jurisdiction

10:20 am on 15 June 2009

American Samoa's congressional delegate, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin is the sponsor of a federal bill which add additional judges and confer certain federal jurisdiction on the High Court of American Samoa.

If passed, the bill will give the High Court of American Samoa jurisdiction over any criminal case arising under any federal law when the crime takes place in American Samoa.

The High Court of American Samoa currently has limited federal jurisdiction over such matters which include food safety, protection of animals, conservation, and maritime issues.

However, if a person violates federal criminal law in the territory, that individual is transferred to either Hawaii or Washington D.C. for prosecution.

Faleomavaega says that over the years the current system has caused tremendous financial hardships on persons arrested and their families.

He says the local judiciary system, whereby Matai titles and communal land cases are tried in the High Court, remains unchanged.