Immigration chief denies claims
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, has denied claims that the charge and the conviction of Talalelei Pauga was the Government's way of getting back to the man who threw a pig's head at Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.
Agafili also dismissed claims that Pauga was the first person to be charged for the offence under the Immigration Act of Samoa.
During Pauga's sentencing, the Court noted that the defendant was the first person to be charged with the offence.
But Agafili disputed this, saying the record shows there were others who were dealt with for false declarations on arrival card.
“We’ve had entries refused to those who made false declaration instead of prosecution,” Agafili said.
“There have been many times before where people were refused entrance for false declaration.
“This is not just an arrival card, this is a declaration form and it is our only hope to determine whether or not to allow or refuse entrance in the country. It is an international practice made by all countries for the sole reason to ensure their national borders are not compromised by any illegal immigrants.”
The C.E.O. emphasised there were five government agencies that are part of the border security committee; Police, Health, Immigration, Quarantine and Airport Authority.
He said national border protection is pivotal to the security of the country to ensure it is not compromised hence emphasis placed on the legal declaration on the arrival card.
Agafili assured the declaration card is reviewed regularly and was recently reviewed beginning of this month.
About the declaration card, lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu raised concerns over questions in the form that should be reviewed.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Unasa pointed to the section where travellers are asked to declare their previous convictions claiming the question prejudges a person.
“These are private matters, someone’s previous conviction,” she said.
“It has been dealt with in the jurisdiction (where the offence took place) if anything it is prejudice and prejudges the person.”
In response, Agafili said Unasa is entitled to her own opinion and the questions raised are appropriate.
“As I said, this form is regularly reviewed and we have reasons without reasonable doubt that this information is proper as to its form and content and appropriate to ensure our national security will never be compromised."