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Tongan nationals remain prisoners at TCF long past serving their time

Two Tongan Nationals were sentenced several years ago by the High Court to be deported after serving a certain jail time, however up to now, Tautai Samasoni and Latu Noa remain at the Tafuna Correctional Facility.

This was confirmed by Warden Luamana’i Maifea, who told Samoa News that Samasoni and Noa should have left the TCF a long time ago.

The Warden explained that there are limited resources available at the TCF, given the three daily meals that are provided. He also said it’s overcrowded in the prison cells, and yet Samasoni and Noa are still housed at TCF due to their illegal immigration status, and no one has done anything about it.

The Warden said the delay is due to the fact the inmates do not have passports, and he has made every effort, making multiple phone calls to the families of the men in Tonga asking them for assistance in getting the passports for the men. To date, he has been unsuccessful.

Warden Maifea said the two inmates were supposed to depart the territory as part of their judgment from the High Court, however that is not the case here.

The pair were arrested several years ago on separate cases. Noa was charged in connection with a sexual offense, while Samasoni was convicted of possession of an illegal substance — marijuana.

The warden said he has again approached the Public Defender’s Office for assistance in this matter.

Public Defender Ruth Risch Fuatagavi told Samoa News they have also attempted to obtain assistance from the families of the inmates; however the Public Defender’s office can only do so much. She said the Public Defender’s office cannot contact foreign Consulate offices for assistance; only the Attorney General’s office can do that.

“The inmates have served their time required by the High Court, however given their illegal immigration status they cannot be released out into the general population, yet the government is not doing anything to get them out of the territory,” said the Public Defender.

Emails and phone calls to the Attorney General’s office for a comment on the delay of deportation of these inmates were unsuccessful as of press time.