The Minister of Prisons and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, is calling for foreigners who are convicted of serious crimes in Samoa to be fined hefty amounts and deported.
“They should be ordered to pay significant monetary fines and upon payment should be deported back to their home countries,” he said.
“We are feeding them, housing them and giving them medical care, when necessary, and yet they should be sent back to where they came from.”
The Minister expressed the view during an interview with the Samoa Observer. As the Minister of Prisons, he said he was alarmed by the growing number of foreigners convicted of serious crime in Samoa.
“These people come from different backgrounds, they don’t eat the same foods as Samoans do,” he said.
“And there are so many reasons that I think these people should be sent back to their home countries. I don’t think it’s logical to house them together with our people.”
The Minister understands that deterrence is a must.
“However, these foreigners have learned their lesson just being around people they are not familiar with and I can say with confidence they will be a walking deterrence.
“They will inform others that Samoa does not tolerate criminals.”
According to the Minister, the suggestion came after assessments of the inmates and how these foreigners are different from the Samoans on so many levels.
“They come from a totally different culture, they have ways of doing things their own way.
“But one thing for sure is that we will not make any changes at the prison to accommodate these inmates.
“I think this is what the Judiciary arm should consider when handing down sentencing on these cases.
“Also these people have no family to go home to when they are eligible for weekend parole, because part of the requirement is that inmates have to be accepted by their family to return home.
“Otherwise, they will be housed at the prison until such a time when they have served their full sentence.”
So what is his solution?
“I think they should pay a fine that should compensate their time in jail. And instead of sending them to jail, they should be sent back to their countries.
“The government should consider this seriously.”
Asked if there are issues pertaining to the foreigners, hence the suggestion to deport them back home, the Minister said no.
“I feel these people don’t belong here in our country,” he said. “They violated our laws and they should pay a fine and then deport them.
“We can allocate these funds to assist the prison with so many rehabilitation projects that we currently have.”