AMERICAN SAMOA SENATOR DEFENDS PROPOSED LAND OWNERSHIP BILL

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (April 1, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Senator Mata‘utia Tuiafono, the main sponsor of a new bill prohibiting Samoa citizens from owning land in neighboring American Samoa, says the proposed law is not designed to discriminate against the Samoan people.

The Senator said the bill would protect the territory's limited land mass from foreign ownership.

He said neighboring Samoa had banned foreigners from owning land in that country, and American Samoa would do the same.

"American Samoa should learn from Samoa. They are smart to pass laws to protect their land," he said.

He told of an experience when he was not allowed to register a 100 acre parcel of land in Samoa's Leauva‘a Village, given to him by a relative, because he was not a citizen of the country.

The new bill, just passed by the American Samoa Legislature and awaiting the Governor's signature, defines native Samoans as those from Tutuila, Manu'a, Aunu'u or Swains islands. They will be the people permitted to purchase land in the territory.

Currently, Samoans are not excluded from buying land in the territory because the definition of a native Samoan is not specific to American Samoa.

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