Prisoners' claims of inhumane detention dismissed

An appeal by two of the country's most notorious prisoners, protesting their "inhumane" detention in a Police cell, has been dismissed. 

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal last week, in a case that centred on their claims a Court had earlier erred by ruling their detention at the Apia Police headquarters was not a breach of their rights. 

Tagaloasa Filipaina Faisauvale and another inmate, Ovaleni Poli Vaili, had been incarcerated at the Police cell since last year due to “security concerns” of an alleged mass prison break. 

The pair were transported to the new Tanugamalala prison earlier this month before the Court of Appeal had delivered its ruling. 

Represented by lawyers, Josefina Fuimaono Sapolu and Unasa Iuni Sapolu, the appellants argued the prisoners were removed from the then Tafaigata prison in February 2018 without due regard for natural justice. 

The Police Commissioner in his evidence stated that the removal of the men to the Police station was inspired by “security concerns, not a desire to discipline the appellants for their behaviour”. 

The Court of Appeal concluded the appeal's primary foundation on an allegation of an “error in assessing the Prisons and Corrections Act 2013 regarding penalty” was not supported. 

The second ground of the appeal was based on complaints from Tagaloasa and Ovaleni that they were denied access to television, musical instruments, church attendance and exercise. They also complained about the food provided being “not to their liking”.  

But the Court heard that the prisoners had never requested the above from authorities and the “only problem was that they did not like the food” provided. 

The Court of Appeal noted that the ruling Judge had personally inspected the holding cells in question and she found they were well lit and air conditioned. 

“She did not find that being housed in these cells amounted to inhumane or degrading treatment,” the Court of Appeal ruled. 

The Court further pointed out the listed complaints from the prisoners do not sound inhumane or degrading on their face and see no reason to interfere with the ruling Judge conclusion that there was no inhuman or degrading treatment. 

“None of the grounds advanced on behalf of the appellants succeed," the Court found. 

Prosecutors for the matter were Sefo Junior Ainuu and Violina Leilua from the Attorney General’s Office. 


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