14 Nov 2005

Call for federal court in American Samoa has some support

4:41 pm on 14 November 2005

The call for a federal court to be established in American Samoa is believed to be supported by some territorial leaders.

The anti-corruption watchdog, Common Cause, says there needs to be a federal magistrate or federal court set up in Pago Pago rather than having cases tried in Hawaii as is currently done.

Its president, Taimane Johnson, says justice needs to be seen to be done and the number of recent corruption cases shows that people have begun to believe that the law doesn't apply to them.

Our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, says there is some support in the legislature for the proposal.

"There are those who are saying, without their names being mentioned, that they'd like to see a federal court here in American Samoa. The problem is their major concern is the land and title issues. All lands in American Samoa, of course, communal land, family-owned land and they don't want the federal government to really infringe on this specific issue."

Fili Sagapolutele says the issue of a federal court or magistrate is not likely to be high on the administration's agenda because elections are being held next year.

And, she says the U.S. Congress would have the final say over the decision.