SAMOA MAY BE INCLUDED IN AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S REPORT CARD

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 21, 2001 - PIDP/CPIS)---Samoa might be included in the annual human rights violation report card issued later this year by Amnesty International (AI).

In a telephone interview from London on Wednesday, Dr. Heinz Schurmann-Zeggel of AI's Asia Pacific Regional Program cited the eviction and jailing of members of a Bible Study group in Falealupo, Samoa as the case that might be part of the report.

A final decision should be made before the human rights watchdog group releases its annual report in May, coinciding with the group's 40th anniversary, said Dr. Schurmann-Zeggel.

The Solomon Islands and Fiji also are expected to be included in the report, as political problems there have reportedly led to human rights violations.

In the meantime, Amnesty International is keeping a close eye on reports about the Daewoosa Samoa saga in American Samoa.

However, Dr. Schurmann-Zeggel said that what has been reported so far "is not serious" enough for the London-based group to take action or intervene.

He said the mandate of the human rights watchdog group calls for taking action when people are abused outside of the workplace.

"Based on the reports we have received, it’s something inside the factory, not outside," Dr. Schurmann-Zeggel said. "But we have been following the case."

Amnesty International also monitors death penalty legislation.

Last year, it followed the fate of proposed legislation to specify the method American Samoa would use if a convict were sentenced to death under existing statutes.

Legislation specifying lethal injection and the electric chair were introduced by Rep. Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae Jr., but were struck down by the House. The lawmaker then introduced legislation to outlaw the death penalty, but that proposal was also struck down by the House.

It has been more than 50 years since a death penalty was carried out in the territory. Early in the last century, a man was hanged for killing another man with a bush knife.

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