Justice Chief backs Minister’s call for criminals to be deported

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Papali’i Taimalelagi and Tialavea Tionisio Hunt.

Papali’i Taimalelagi and Tialavea Tionisio Hunt. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A) is willing to entertain the call for foreigners who are convicted of serious crimes in Samoa to be fined hefty amounts and deported. 

This is according to the M.J.C.A’s Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i J.P. Taimalelagi. 

He was responding to questions from the Samoa Observer on the back of comments from the Minister of Prisons and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt.

Last month, he said the Court should consider sentencing foreigners with significant monetary fines. Upon payment, they should be deported to their home countries.

Tialavea said  that Samoa is currently looking after these foreign criminals.

 “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,” said Tialavea. 

The C.E.O of Justice said they are considering the matter.

“This is a great idea,” Papali’i told the Samoa Observer. 

“We need to amend the law to allow this because this makes sense. 

“We should not be paying to care and provide healthcare for them, they should be fined and sent back to their homeland. 

“But we just have to make sure that they will never return to Samoa.”

The C.E.O told the Samoa Observer that the idea is feasible for the government. 

“The only problem is that it has to be included in our laws in order for us to enforce it,” said Papali’i. 

In July, Tialavea told the Samoa Observer that as the Minister of Prisons, 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 food 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.”

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