29 Mar 2005

No action taken yet against attorney in American Samoa over attempted adoption

7:18 am on 29 March 2005

Authorities in American Samoa are yet to take any action against a local attorney involved in an illegal attempt to send a child to the U.S. for adoption.

The Attorney-General's office issued a stop order preventing the child from leaving the territory just hours before a flight to the U.S. where the prospective adoptive parents in Utah had signed paperwork.

The Attorney-General, Sialega Togafau, says the process was illegal because a local attorney allegedly signed guardianship for the child when only the court has the authority to do so.

Our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, says local attorneys are well aware of this because the chief justice sent them a memo last year reminding them of the procedure.

But, she says the attorney-general isn't taking any action against the attorney.

"He said that will be up to the chief justice. The attorney-general said the chief justice was very clear in his memo, and everyone received a copy of the general memorandum that has to be followed. But, we haven't seen any legal action or any administrative action taken against the attorney involved."

Fili Sagapolutele says the attorney-general has spoken to the mother who has now taken her child back.