Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister & Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 05 APRIL 2019: The Australia based Samoan who was fined two weeks ago for making a false declaration in his Immigration Arrival Card, is not the first person to declare false information upon arrival in Samoa.
This was confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister & Cabinet which the Immigration Division is under, Agafili Shem Leo.
Talalelei Pauga who threw a pigs head at the Prime Minister at a community function in Brisbane last December, was fined $2,400 by the District Court two weeks ago for declaring false information to Immigration when he arrived at Faleolo Airport.
“Records show we have refused a number of entries for those who have made false declarations in the past,” said Agafili.
He said it is crucial for people to know that the form filled in at the airport is not just an arrival card, but a declaration form that declares that the information given is true as to its form and content.
“It’s a legal declaration meaning that if you declare false information, you are punishable under the law,” said Agafili.
There are five Government agencies that are part of Samoa’s border control that include Immigration, Customs, Health, Quarantine, Police and the Airport Authority.
The declaration form according to Agafili is Samoa’s only hope to determine whether to allow or refuse anyone entering the country. He said it is an international practise to ensure that the country’s national borders are not compromised at any given time, and that Samoa’s national security is not compromised by any illegal immigrants.
“This is why we put a lot of emphasis, vigilance and focus by our immigration officers at the front line because we have a ninety days free entry, and the visitor’s status can only be determined at the very first point of entry.”
He was asked if the Forms can be reworded especially where it said if the person “has a previous conviction” meaning the person has already being dealt with.
“This form is reviewed regularly and we have reason to believe that without reasonable doubt that this information is proper and its form and content is appropriate to ensure that our national security will never be compromised,” said Agafili.