CHANGES TO MATAI TITLE LAW APPROVED BY SENATE
The Senate yesterday approved in final reading a measure seeking to amend certain provisions of the matai title statute when a chiefly title is disputed in court. The bill now goes to the House for review and consideration.
Sponsored by Sen. Lualemaga Faoa, the measure states that, “In the event of appeal, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred in the appeal to be assessed by the High Court against the non-prevailing party.”
Current law also states that no succession to a matai title may be recognized until the certificate of succession and registration is issued.
The bill adds another provision, which states that, “In a disputed case, no matai title shall be taken or bestowed and no ‘saofa’i’ held until the High Court has entered a final, non-appealable order certifying the successor” in accordance with other provisions of the law.
Lualemaga, a retired associate judge, told Samoa News several months ago that this provision is to prevent incidents such as those which have happened in the past, where a title is bestowed on a person while an appeal is pending, and in the end, the appeal gave the title to the person who had initially lost during the trial.
FINE FOR SPONSORS OF OVERSTAYERS APPROVED BY HOUSE
The House approved last Friday in final reading a bill that would subject the sponsors of foreigners who are present in the territory beyond their permitted time to a fine.
According to the measure, the fine for individual sponsors is $10 per day while corporations or business sponsors will be fined $100 per day.
Revenue collected under this proposal would be placed in a separate account to be appropriated for capital improvement projects or for the government’s required matching portion of such funds.
Government officials told House members late last year that the immigration office had documented over 1,400 overstayers in the territory.
Rep. Faimealelei Allen, one of the bill’s sponsors, said last year that one of the reasons for proposing this measure is to help the government with the high number of overstayers in the territory, saying 1,400 is “a lot of them”.
He said he is also concerned with the influx of Asians into the territory and it seems the government is unable to control this situation, adding that many of these Asians are taking up local jobs.
“Due to the urgent need to curtail violations of immigration laws, this bill shall become effective immediately upon passage by the Legislature and approval by the governor,” says the measure.
The bill went through first reading in the Senate yesterday with hopes by House members that the measure will be approved during this legislative session.Senators have continued to raise concerns over the increasing number of overstayers in the territory and most of these cases are identified in the court system when the overstayers commit crimes.