17 Apr 2024

Pacific news in brief for April 17

10:36 am on 17 April 2024
Samoa's Supreme Court

Samoa's Supreme Court Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Samoa - sentences

A Samoa justice has suggested looking into the jail term for theft, following what he called 'a record amount before the courts'.

A former ANZ Bank manager who stole $1.2 million tālā from the institution was jailed for six and a half years last week.

Senior Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson said he was unable to impose a longer sentence on the defendant under the present law.

During sentencing, he suggested the Samoa Law Reform Commission look into the jail term for theft and consider if it was time to have a special category for large-scale thefts.

The Samoa Observer reported the justice saying the maximum penalty of 10 years for theft is not designed to cater for such a scale of dishonesty.

The Samoa Law Reform Commissioner said the comments were interesting, and the justice has a point concerning such a huge amount of money stolen.

Tonga - suspended

Tonga's acting CEO for Foreign Affairs has been suspended on an order by Tonga's Supreme Court.

Government has also been ordered not to advertise the position.

The ruling made on Monday found the Government's creation of the acting CEO position resulted in a clash with Tonga's Foreign Secretary, Viliami Malolo.

The Court found the new position duplicated tasks already allocated to the Foreign Secretary.

The case had been initiated by the Foreign Secretary in February.

Northern Mariana Islands - workforce

The US House has passed a bill that hopes to inject USD$300,000 into developing the Northern Marianas' (CNMI) depleting workforce.

The bill gives the CNMI access to increased job training and career assistance funding.

CNMI delegate Gregorio Kilil Sablan said 203 Democrats and 175 Republicans voted for the bill, while 26 Republicans voted against.

The legislation has now gone to the Senate.

Sablan said he looked forward to working with his colleagues there to get it to President Joe Biden's desk for signature.

Solomon Islands - cocoa

A Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce spokesperson says the latest increase in the price of cocoa is good news for local farmers.

Cocoa Working Group member Patteson Siliota said the global price for cocoa has increased due to a drop in cocoa production in African countries.

Siliota said as of April 3, the World Cocoa Price closed at US$10,545 per ton; while two days prior, it was sitting at US$9669.

He said cocoa is a commodity long forgotten by many, but it's important in Solomon Islands.

Cook Islands - solar

A spokesperson from the office of the Prime Minister in Cook Islands says it could take one year to fix the solar power system in the northern group islands.

Cook Islands News reported Penrhyn residents are experiencing reduced power hours due to failing batteries in their solar-diesel hybrid system.

Island executive officer Puna Vano said around 10 failing batteries need replacing.

They are expected to arrive on a barge but it is not known when.

People in the north were asked to conserve power.

Guam - drinking water

A Guam senator is calling for routine testing of drinking water imported into the territory.

The Pacific Islands Times reported public health officials saying the safety of imported water is currently unclear, and not systematically tested.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has recently introduced new regulations on substances commonly known as 'forever chemicals'.

Senator Dwayne San Nicolas said with the new health advisories and regulatory actions surrounding PFAs, it's imperative they ensure all water sources consumed on Guam are safe.

Meanwhile, the Guam Hydrologic Survey earlier identified six contaminated wells scattered across Tiyan, Chalan-Pago Ordot and Hagåtña.

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