Community Briefs

SAMOA GROUP SHARES THOUGHTS DURING FLAG DAY PESE MA SIVA

 

Every time a village group from Samoa participates in the annual Flag Day celebration, they are always considered the ones to watch during siva and especially during the “pese” which usually  includes criticism and advice, as well as words of appreciation to the host, American Samoa.

 

In this year’s Flag Day ceremony, held last Thursday at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, it was Sa’anapu village that represented Samoa and they shared a few thoughts with the government and local residents.

 

For example, the singers praised American Samoa’s new law that helps and protects citizens of Samoa who come to Tutuila to work. While they didn’t specify the new law, it's understood that the group is referring to the anti human trafficking law, which criminalized such acts, including involuntary servitude.

 

The group first pointed out that not all American Samoans are guilty, but noted that there are some who abuse and "treat our people from Samoa as slaves”.

 

 “Thank you” for the new law, they sang.

 

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop told Samoa News last month that there are people in American Samoa taking advantage of the Samoan culture, bringing to the territory citizens of Samoa to “tautua (serve)” local families, but instead “are using their own family members as slaves, to do their domestic work without compensating them, without taking care of them.”

 

According to Jessop the “majority of human trafficking [cases] do come from Samoa... so down the line we’re hopeful to open the dialogue with them and be able to trade information and … help to become resources for each other.”

 

During the Flag Day pese, the Sa’anapu group went on to point out that American Samoa is looking for teachers, and they have teachers within their group, as well as their village, who can be shared with American Samoa with the goal to ensure the children of the two Samoas are well educated.

 

(Education Department officials were in Samoa earlier this year to recruit teachers and they brought back some 100 applications to be screened to teach in areas such as English, Math and Science.)

 

They also said that for many years they keep hearing about proposals to set up a cannery in Savai’i (which is where Sa’anapu is located) but nothing has materialized. The group  said Sa’anapu villagers are used to the hard work involved in fish cleaning and have no problem with such jobs if a cannery is set up in their area.

 

Sa’anapu village group — with more than 200 members — were on island for five days. They were hosted by the village of Matu’u and returned last Friday to Samoa on the MV Sili.

 

SOLOFA’S ATTORNEY WILL NOT SEEK A RE-HEARING FOR SOLOFA CASE

 

Appeals attorney for Paul Solofa will not file a motion for an appeal’s court rehearing of its decision handed down last month, affirming the lower courts verdict and sentence of the former local Department of Education official.

 

The jury at the federal court in Washington D.C,. in 2012, convicted Solofa of witness tampering and obstruction of justice, and the court sentenced him to 35 months in prison. Solofa challenged his conviction and the lengthy jail term.

 

However, a three-panel appeal’s court judges late last month rejected defense claims and issued a decision affirming Solofa’s conviction and sentence.

 

Last week Monday, court-appointed appeals attorney Matthew D. McGill notified the appellate court that “he has sent a notice to... Solofa informing him that counsel will not be petitioning for rehearing or" certiorari” — seeking a judicial review — of this case.

 

Therefore, McGill said, his representation of Solofa has ceased. Then last Thursday the court filed an official motion to terminate McGill’s service as legal counsel.

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