Mutual security concerns raised during Two Samoa Talks
At last week’s annual Two Samoa Talks in Apia, American Samoa and Samoa agreed to further coordinate and strengthen law enforcement with regular engagement to address mutual concerns, according to the meeting communique, which notes that American Samoa raised the issue of many Samoa citizens being locked up at the overcrowded Territorial Correctional Facility in Tafuna.
Under the subtitle “Security”, the communique says American Samoa and Samoa have agreed to strengthen cooperation through more regular engagement between law enforcement authorities of the two Samoas and to identify opportunities to address their mutual security concerns.
At the meeting, both sides recognized the need for improved information exchange relating to deportees. Such information includes advanced notice before the individual is deported and providing criminal records and health backgrounds.
“American Samoa is keen to see how the problem of its predominantly Samoa national prisoners could be addressed given its overcrowded prison,” the communique says, adding that Samoa is looking into legislation to address the deportee situation.
As part of discussions between health officials, both sides “agreed to ensure health checks particularly for infectious diseases before deportees are returned to Samoa and for this information to be shared with Samoa prior to deportation,” according to the communique.
A local medical professional told Samoa News over the weekend that releasing health information, “even if it's health checks for infectious diseases” without the consent of the patient, “may become an issue under federal laws” — pertaining to the privacy of a patient — for American Samoa.
“While I’m not privy to the specifics discussed on this issue by health officials of the two Samoas, it's very important that a patient's privacy is maintained when it comes to releasing any health information to a third party,” said the medical professional.
Both sides agreed that there is “an absolute need” for joint cooperation to strengthen border security operations and coordination, particularly in the control of exclusive economic zones and borders of the two Samoas.
It was suggested that such cooperation and coordination can be executed through a Memorandum of Understanding, “given the high number of drug cases and illegal activities occurring in our borders.”
American Samoa also raised concerns on the fraudulent birth certificates in both Samoas, and charges imposed by Samoa for providing police reports to territorial officials.
It was revealed at the meeting that the Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference (PIDC) organization is now headquartered in Apia, Samoa, and American Samoa has been invited to be a member of the regional group, which is a forum for official immigration agencies of the Pacific Region.
There has been no word on whether or not American Samoa will join the PIDC, which currently has 18 member countries and territories.