Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits such practices, and there were no reports government officials normally employed them. There were allegations of abuses by some police officials, such as the use of physical violence against detainees.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions were harsh due to inadequate food, potable water, overcrowding, physical abuse, and inadequate sanitary conditions.
Physical Conditions: The Tafaigata men’s prison was overcrowded with more than 300 inmates in a facility with an official capacity of 260. Pretrial detainees were held together with convicts. Authorities made only basic provision for food, water (including potable water), and sanitation. Ventilation and cell lighting remained poor, and lights remained on all night.
Physical conditions in the separate Tafaigata women’s prison, including ventilation and sanitation, generally were better than in the men’s prison.
Authorities housed juveniles (prisoners younger than age 26) at the Olomanu Juvenile Center, where physical conditions generally were better than in adult facilities.
Police held overnight detainees in two cells at police headquarters in Apia and one cell at Tuasivi.
An inquest into the August 2017 death of a male prisoner continued as of November 2018. Prison officials ruled the death a suicide by hanging, a claim the family disputed.
Administration: The prison system could not account for or effectively supervise all inmates. This was evident in the recurring prison escapes and delays in recapturing escapees.
Authorities permitted prisoners and detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities and request investigation of alleged problematic conditions. Authorities investigated such allegations, documented them, and made the results publicly accessible. The government generally investigated and monitored prison and detention center conditions.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring visits by independent human rights observers, including UN organizations and diplomatic missions.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were cooperative and responsive to their views.
Government Human Rights Bodies: Observers considered the Office of the Ombudsman generally effective and able to operate free from government or political party interference. The government usually adopted its recommendations. The Office of the Ombudsman also houses the National Human Rights Institute, which in September published the 2018 National State of Human Rights Report comprised entirely of a 300-page National Public Inquiry into Family Violence. The report revealed widespread verbal and physical abuse within families.
Section 7. Worker Rights
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and the government generally enforced such laws. There is an exception in the constitution for service required by local custom. A key feature of the matai system is that non-matai men perform work in their village in service to their families, church, or the village as a whole. Most persons did so willingly, but the matai may compel those who do not wish to work.
The law states that forced labor is punishable by imprisonment. Aside from the cultural exception noted above and street vending by children, forced labor was not considered a problem. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labor received no complaints and found no violations of forced labor during inspections conducted during the year. Penalties were reportedly sufficient to deter violations.