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Admin bill over lands and chiefly title disputes, pending in House

The Senate version of the Administration bill giving the authority to the Office of Samoan Affairs to resolve land and matai title disputes is now pending before the House of Representatives.

During a hearing of this measure in January, Attorney General Fainu’ulelei Falefatu Alailima-Utu and Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Mauga T. Asuega confirmed issues pertaining to delays of land and matai title disputes at times lingering for years, even 20 years prompted the Lemanu Administration.

In submitting the Administration bill to the Legislature, Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga told Fono leaders that delayed resolutions of a land and title dispute “disrupts the peaceful and orderly administration of family and village affairs.

“This bill would allow for a case to proceed to the High Court [of American Samoa] if unresolved six months after referral to the Secretary of Samoan Affairs,” the governor wrote, saying that the Administration solicits the support of the Fono in considering this important legislation.

During the January hearing Fainu’ulelei informed senators that the legislation was the result of discussions and recommendations from the Office of Samoan Affairs pertaining to resolving disputes on lands and matai titles.

He pointed out that the problem and issue faced by Samoan Affairs is that disputes linger for years, and remain unresolved, despite all efforts of Samoan Affairs to resolve them.

Last week Senators approved the House version of this proposed measure and it goes back to the representatives for their determination of which version will be sent to the governor for his endorsement.

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