Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

AMATA RELEASES STATEMENT ON STARKIST

Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 - Congresswoman Aumua Amata released a statement on the news that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced an agreement with StarKist Co. and its subsidiary Starkist Samoa Company, in which the companies will make a series of upgrades to reduce pollution, improve safety measures, and comply with certain federal environmental laws at their tuna processing facility in American Samoa.

“StarKist is a major employer and partner in the community, and I commend their cooperation with these federal agencies to make these upgrades for the benefit of our community and coasts,” Aumua Amata said. “We treasure our coasts and waters in American Samoa. I know the portion of the agreement resulting in the donation of $88,000 in emergency response equipment for the American Samoa Fire Department will be a welcomed addition. I appreciate all the hard work that went into this joint proposal by DOJ, the EPA and StarKist for the federal court’s approval.”

Under this mutually negotiated Consent Decree between the parties, DOJ and EPA note that StarKist will enhance its environmental and safety measures, further protecting American Samoan local communities and coastal waters.

In their court filing, the parties ask the Federal Court to recognize that the Consent Decree was negotiated in good faith and that it was fair, reasonable and in the public interest.

The DOJ and EPA further noted that StarKist has already performed a significant amount of the work to make corrections and that under the consent agreement StarKist will pay a civil fine and provide emergency response equipment to the American Samoa Department of Public Safety and Fire Services Bureau.

This proposed Consent Decree was filed in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is subject to a 30-day comment period and subject to final court approval. A copy of the Consent Decree is available for anyone to review on the DOJ website at <www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html>

SAMOA MEDIA ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT RESIGNS

The President of the Journalists Association of Samoa, or JAWS, Apulu Lance Polu, has resigned from the top position of the organization to await the outcome of a police criminal charge of obtaining a false document now before the court.

Vice President of JAWS, Rudy Bartley confirmed Apulu's resignation from his position.

Apulu is one of the two directors of the Local Partners and Associates nonu juice company who are facing criminal charges as a result of a police investigation into a complaint filed by another company director and government Associate Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.

The former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, who stepped down last month from his ministerial portfolio is facing one count of obtaining money by deception as a result of the police investigation.

The former minister's wife was also charged with the same criminal offense.

The three accused will appear in court for the first mention of the case in the Supreme Court next Monday.

(Source: RNZI)

FUIMAONO TITIMAEA TAFUA RETURNS AS MANU SAMOA COACH

The worst kept secret in Samoa appears to be finally out.

Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua has returned as the Head of Coach of the Manu Samoa, replacing former coach, Namulauulu Alama Ieremia.

The decision was reportedly made during a Samoa Rugby Union Board meeting last night.

The appointment ends weeks of speculations where Fuimaono was always touted as the one to take the job.

Contacted last week by the Samoa Observer, he vehemently denied being appointed.

Prior to the Board meeting last night, the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said the main criteria for selecting a coach would be someone who can win games and help Samoa qualify for the Rugby World Cup. 

(Source: Samoa Observer)

AT LEAST 5,000 NEW VOTERS REGISTER FOR TONGAN ELECTION

With just two months to go before Tongans head to the polls on November 16, there are more than 57,000 registered voters, according to a provisional electoral roll.

Just over 51,000 voters registered for the last election in 2014.

Supervisor of Elections Pita Vuki says the final electoral roll will be printed on September 15.

Vuki told the Matangi Tonga website that he expects the number of voters to be close to that of the provisional roll but there are still voters coming in to register.

The deadline for new voters to register is Thursday.

The provisional electoral roll consists of 51% women and 49% men.

Nearly 71% of those on the roll reside in Tongatapu, just under 15 percent in Vava'u, with the remainder shared between the other outer islands.

Tonga heads to the polls, a year early, after King Tupou VI dissolved parliament last month.

(Source: RNZI)

CHURCH MINISTER ACCUSED IN NEW ZEALAND

A Flaxmere pastor who allegedly brought a Samoan man to New Zealand to work as his 'slave' is facing charges of providing false or misleading information to an immigration officer.

Faaofo Fomai and his church, the Everlasting Gospel Church, each face four charges. Fomai, 59, appeared in Hastings District Court on Tuesday and was remanded without plea until later this month.

The charges relate to Fomai's dealings with a Samoan police officer, Uasi Siatulau, whom he promised a job as a youth pastor in his Hawke's Bay church.

According to an Immigration and Protection Tribunal ruling last year, Siatulau claimed to have been exploited by Fomai, who arranged for him to come to New Zealand in April 2015 with his wife and four children.

In early 2016 Immigration New Zealand discovered he was not working as a youth pastor for the church and he was given four weeks to apply for a variation to his visa conditions or leave.

Siatulau told Immigration NZ he had never worked as a youth pastor and that Fomai had treated him like a "slave".

He told the tribunal the church had few members and there was no youth group for him to work with, and he had been made to pick apples within days of arriving.

The tribunal ruling, issued last year, said Siatulau "left his job in Samoa to come here for a new beginning but had been misled".

Siatulau presented the tribunal with a letter from Fomai stating the church would pay him $1350 to $1400 a fortnight.

He also had a sponsorship form for religious workers completed by Fomai in support of his application for a work visa.

After Immigration NZ declined Siatulau a visa to work in an orchard and served him with a deportation liability notice, he requested that his family be allowed to stay in New Zealand as they had been victims of the pastor.

The tribunal said the situation was "indeed unfortunate" if it was as alleged, but it did not find there were exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature, and the deportation order stood.

Siatulau and his family were deported. 

(Source: Stuff New Zealand)

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