Prison conditions overall were harsh and remained below international standards.
Physical Conditions: As of 2012 there were approximately 430 inmates in the prison system, including 23 women and 37 juveniles. The Tafaigata men’s prison, the country’s most crowded, had 23 cells of various sizes, including eight century-old concrete cells that measured approximately 30 feet by 30 feet and held 26 to 30 inmates each. Authorities made only basic provisions for food, water (including potable water), and sanitation. Cell lighting and ventilation remained poor. Lights remained on from dusk until 9 p.m. Each cell had one toilet and one shower facility shared communally.
The separate Tafaigata women’s prison had five cells that were approximately 15 feet by nine feet, and each held four to six inmates. There was also a separate holding cell for female inmates awaiting trial and a security cell. Physical conditions, including ventilation and sanitation, generally were better in the women’s prison than in the men’s prison.
Authorities housed juveniles (under 21 years of age) at the Olomanu Juvenile Center, where physical conditions generally were better than in adult facilities. Authorities housed the 37 juveniles in three separate buildings, and they lived as a community in a 300-acre compound.
Police held overnight detainees in two cells at police headquarters in Apia and one cell at Tuasivi. The cells had good lighting, sanitation, and ventilation.
Information on prison deaths was not available.
Administration: Police kept prisoner files on sentencing and parole. Courts regularly used community service hours and suspended sentences as alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
The law mandates the Office of the Ombudsman receive and investigate complaints of prisoners and detainees on problems of inhuman overcrowding, status and circumstances of juvenile offenders, and improvement of pretrial detention, bail, and recordkeeping procedures. Prisoners also could lodge complaints with the police department’s PSU. The ombudsman continued an investigation begun in 2012 of allegations of police abuse of prisoners.
Officials permitted prisoners escorted hospital visits for medical checks as necessary. A room at police headquarters served as a medical clinic, but no doctor or nurse was assigned to the facility.
Regulations require prisoners at all facilities, including the juvenile facility, to do manual labor approximately 40 hours per week. Prisoners generally performed agricultural work and cooked food for inmates and prison staff.
The government permitted family members and church representatives to visit prisons weekly, often on Sundays when families could bring food and clothing.
Authorities permitted prisoners and detainees religious observance and allowed them to submit complaints to judicial authorities and request investigation of alleged inhuman conditions. Authorities investigated such allegations and documented the results in a publicly accessible manner. Generally, the government investigated and monitored prison and detention center conditions.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring visits by independent human rights observers, including the Red Cross and diplomatic missions.