Co-operation not fingerpointing
In a response from American Samoa’s Deputy Treasurer, Keith Gebauer, who is currently overseeing Customs in the Territory, we have a sensible response to what was fast escalating into a blame game.
Mr Gebauer is calling upon Customs and Border Control of the two Samoas to work together.
The situation arose when a package from American Samoa went through the scanning machine at Fagalii Airport and Customs found methamphetamine (ice) in the package.
Both Samoa and American Samoa are said to have scanning machines at their airports.
Later, two men who came to pick up the package from Fagalii were arrested and have been charged with unlawful possession of the drugs.
In the meantime however, there had been unfair finger pointing at the airline which had carried the package
There also appears to have been a lack of information sharing between American Samoa and Samoa which is surprising and general confusion over who and how the contraband should have been detected before it reached its destination.
No one is under any illusion that this is the first time drugs or other illegal goods for that matter have crossed our borders into Samoa from American Samoa or vice versa.
How else have the many illegal, unlicensed and unregistered firearms turned up on our shores and been discovered during assaults and drug raids?
So to infer anything different, is just plain silly.
And to then criticize procedures in one or other of the two island nations, is also unhelpful and counterproductive.
The General Manager of Talofa Air, Taua Fatu Tielu, has said that they simply transport the cargo through and it is the responsibility of Customs and Border Control to check.
All the airline can do, said Taua, is ask what is inside the package after which they must rely on people’s honesty.
The fact is, there is always a certain amount of trust involved when people travel from one country to another. This can be seen in the forms and declarations travellers are required to fill out, much of which would be impossible to thoroughly check without causing long delays
So what can be done?
Obviously clear travel guidelines for everyone and greater cooperation between the responsible organizations of Customs and Border Controls in American Samoa and Samoa as well as all the airlines which fly in and out of our countries.
And as for us, we need to obey the law by accepting that drugs are illegal and that our declarations, either verbal or written, should be honest.