PACIFIC BRIEFS - 28/04/2018

Monday April 30, 2018 Written by Published in Regional


SAMOA – Civil aviation authorities in Samoa have suspended flights by Talofa Airways after an incident at the country’s Faleolo International Airport. The Samoa Civil Aviation Authority suspended flights by the Apia-based company after Wednesday’s incident. An airline spokesperson said brake pads overheated after landing and there was smoke. The spokesperson said passengers were evacuated safely to the terminal and transported to Fagalii Airport. Passengers were accommodated on Samoa Airways to American Samoa. The Civil Aviation Authority has suspended services until an expert from NZ arrives to investigate the incident.


VANUATU – As Vanuatu’s government prepares to evacuate Ambae Island after volcanic activity intensified, volcanoes on other islands remain in a state of unrest. Ambae’s Manaro Voui crater is at alert level three Nearby, a level two alert is in place on Ambrym with exclusion zones around the erupting Benbow and Marum craters. Gaua’s volcano is also in a major state of unrest, blasting out steam and gas. With Gaua’s Mount Garet at alert level two, visitors to the cone are being warned of the danger this poses. The Lopevi volcano is also at level two but the threat to life is minimal given few people live on Lopevi after mass evacuations in 1939 and 1960. Vanuatu’s major tourist attraction, Mount Yasur on Tanna continues to erupt as it has for many years, with the department saying the threat is confined to the crater. Suretamatai on Vanua Lava is at level one with the threat limited to people who approach the crater.


SAMOA – The president of Samoa’s Lands and Titles court is to be sentenced next week by the District Court on a charge of actual bodily harm. This comes after a Supreme Court judge dismissed three of the four criminal charges that Fepulea’i Attila Ropati had been facing. Fepulea’i was charged by police following a complaint by a Ministry of Justice night watchman who alleged he was hit on the head with an empty beer bottle last December during the judge’s end-of-year function. However, the prosecution has now withdrawn charges of assault, being armed with a dangerous weapon and grievous bodily harm against Fepulea’i to which he had previously pleaded not guilty. The Supreme Court has accepted the president’s guilty plea to one count of actual bodily harm, sending the case back to the District court next Tuesday when a sentencing date will be set. The president is on leave with pay awaiting the outcome of his case.


AMERICAN SAMOA – There are fears the 2020 Census for the United States could leave out American Samoans. American Samoans living in the US raised concern about not being counted properly or being considered foreigners. American Samoa congresswoman Aumua Amata was asked to look into the issue. The congresswoman said her staff were seeking answers from the federal government. The 2020 questionnaire on US citizenship status triggered protests across the mainland when it was announced in March that the question on citizenship status would be reinstated. Under the citizenship question, there are five options; born in the US; born in Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands or Northern Mariana Islands; born abroad of US citizen parent or parents; citizen by naturalization – and not a US citizen.

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