Minister issues prisons declaration

The Minister of Prisons and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has declared the Apia Police Station a prison to satisfy the legal aspect of housing Tagaloasa Filipaina and Ovaleni Poli in Apia. 

This was confirmed in an Order signed by Tialavea on 3 May 2018. 

“In consideration of the fact that the following buildings and places were being used as prisoners before the commencement of the Prison and Corrections Act 2013 on 01 January, 2015, the Commencement date and pursuant to section 16 (1) of the Prisons and Corrections Act 2013, do hereby appoint as prisons the following buildings and places,” the Order reads. 

“The building situated and known as the Apia Police Station together with the building and land used in connection therewith. 

“The building at Aleipata in Upolu known as the Aleipata Police Post and the building and land sued in connection. 

“The building at Leulumoegag in Upolu known as the Poutasi Police Post, Tuasivi in Savaii and Falelima Police Post in Savaii.”

The matter is in relation to the ongoing saga involving two notorious convicts who had been moved to the Apia Police Station after a failed mass prison break plan last year.

The declaration follows a legal opinion provided by the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff. 

He opined that the prisoners can still be detained in the Apia Police station “until the actual case is heard by the Court and a definite determination is given as the lawfulness or otherwise of their detention at Apia Police station”.  

Lemalu quoted section 16 of the Prisoner’s Act, which gives the Minister the power to declare a building or land a prison. 

He adds the Commissioner also has the power under Section 16 (4) to make arrangements for prisoners to be kept at a location designated by the Commissioner as a temporary prison. 

“Either option can be taken immediately,” he said.

“It is recommended that these steps be taken as we cannot have persons we need to hold in Apia for whatever public reason in future, claiming that cells are not a prison.”

Tagaloasa Filipaina and Ovaleni Poli have been housed at the Apia Police Station since the incident last December and they hired a lawyer to fight the decision in Court.

Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson ruled that the Apia Police Station is not by law a prison. 

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