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Pacific News Briefs

Police image of escapee Aniseko Vaelei who was recently captured in Vaiusu, Vaelei was one of four prisoners who broke out of prison four days before Christmas. Two were caught the same day, including notorious prison escapee, Lauitiiti Tualima. Only one prisoner, Manuleleua, remains on the run.  [photo: supplied]
compiled by Samoa News staff


Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has flatly rejected a call for the government to consider legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Speaking during his weekly media session yesterday, Tuilaepa said the government would never entertain the idea because they care about the welfare of Samoans, especially innocent young children.

 “The reason most countries ban this stuff is because of the impact it has on the lives of the general public, especially young children. This is why this stuff is illegal,” Tuilaepa said.

“It’s the same reason 'ice' is illegal because it has caused a lot of mental problems for young kids. There have been cases where some people who were high on this stuff only find out after they’re high that they had killed someone. And yet they couldn’t recognize that when they were high.”

Tuilaepa said he does not want anything like that to happen to Samoa.

The Prime Minister was asked for a comment on the call by senior lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, who said legalizing cannabis would help Samoa’s economy through the export of medicinal marijuana.

She believes this will help reduce the number of inmates housed at Tafa’igata Prison. 

“Furthermore it will save costs to Samoa when all those imprisoned for possession of marijuana etc. are no longer fed in jail, no longer accommodated in jail and there are no more criminal offenses relating to marijuana,” she added. “For health reasons, those with cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, cancer, depression and other health problems can be treated with marijuana.”

She told the Samoa Observer the government is wasting money and the Court’s time on dealing with marijuana offenses. “Stop listening to white agendas, colonized minds; it's just a plant, legalize it and reduce government indebtedness.”

But Tuilaepa will not budge. He says the call reflects badly on Unasa and everyone who took part during the recent Samoa Solidarity International protest march.  

(Source: Samoa Observer)


Samoa police have thanked members of a family at Vaiusu, a village west of Apia, for their swift action, which led to the capture of one of two escaped prisoners.

Aniseko Vaelei was spotted by the family members who gave chase. They restrained the prisoner while the police were called. The police arrived shortly after and took Vaelei into custody.

Vaelei was one of four prisoners who broke out of prison four days before Christmas. Two were caught the same day, including notorious prison escapee, Lauitiiti Tualima.

Manuleleua remains on the run.

(Source: RNZI)


The Northern Marianas is sending four linesmen and administrative staff to Puerto Rico to help with the island's restoration efforts after being hit by Hurricane Maria in September last year.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation Executive Director Gary Camacho said the CUC was asked by the American Public Power Association to join other public power utilities in this endeavor.

He said the assistance is an international effort of all the 2,200 member utilities where CUC has been a member for the last 20 years.

He also said the CNMI is repaying the help it got when Typhoon Soudelor knocked off its power grid more than two years ago.

Hurricane Maria was regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

As of November, at least 547 people were killed by the hurricane: 499 in Puerto Rico, 31 in Dominica, 5 in the Dominican Republic, 4 in the contiguous United States, 3 in Haiti, 2 in Guadeloupe, and 3 in the United States Virgin Islands.

Dozens of others, mostly in Dominica and Puerto Rico, are still missing.

Puerto Rico suffered catastrophic damage, including destruction of its previously damaged electrical grid.

(Source: RNZI)


The Asau Village Council has a zero tolerance for violence against women.

To prove they are serious, they have recently approved policies that will see men who assault their wives banned from the village.

This was confirmed by the village’s Member of Parliament and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, who is also a chief in the village of Asau. 

“The females are the most precious beings on this earth,” he said.  “They are gentle and at the same time, they get things done. 

“That is why for Asau Village, our women are special. We will do everything within our authority to assure that our women are protected, even from their husbands,” said Lopao’o. 

He says the policy is fairly new and it coincides with the campaign by the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development to stop the violence against women and children. 

“The fact that this has been preached in every corner of our country, it’s about time that our concerns are addressed in the villages and that something is done about it.

“It all comes down to us, men who are the head of the families and chiefs in our villages. 

“We see the issue and we step in to fix it. Asau does not condone violence against their women. 

“Women from Asau and women who are married into our village, are all protected,” he said. 

According to Lopao’o, they will also ban men and women who are convicted of sexual offenses. 

“We will not tolerate such behavior in Asau.” 

The Minister hopes other villages will follow the example that Asau has put in place. 

(Source: Samoa Observer)