21 Dec 2002

24 countries affected by new American Samoa alert

9:42 am on 21 December 2002

American Samoa's Attorney General Fiti Sunia has issued a new security alert say the Territory will no longer issue entry permits to people from Fiji and 23 other countries without his specific approval.

The full list of countries whose nationals will now experience restrictions are Afghanisation, Algeria, Bahrain, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Indonesia, the Phillipines and Fiji.

Our correspondent reports this new policy will be particularly burdensome for Indo-Fijian business people who visit the Territory.

The new alert comes amid controversy over a policy announced in August banning the entry into the Territory of people of Middle Eastern descent.

That ban has attracted criticism in the US Congress.

But Governor Tauese Sunia has today defended the original policy saying that it was based on a credible security threat in Samoa.

Governor Sunia says it had been reported that a Middle Eastern man was conducting surveillance of the US Embassy in Apia.

He says the alert was intentionally couched in "over broad" terms because of the Territory's limited security and immigration resources.