Samoa govt denies juveniles are "caged animals"

Claims that juvenile prisoners were being kept as "caged animals" at Samoa's Tanumalala Prison have been denied by the government.

Supreme Court Vui Clarence Nelson described the situation as such after a judiciary visit of the facilities two weeks ago.

The Samoa Observer reported juvenile prisoners had all been transferred from the purpose-built Olomanu Detention Center to allow older prisoners to stay there and look after a plantation there.

Vui claimed youth were sleeping on the floor without mats or blankets.

However the Minister of Police and Corrections, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said while the prison was not a hotel, that is not correct.

He said the judicial visit had occurred during the day when mats were stored away.

The minister also said families of prisoners provided pillows and bed sheets, not the facility.

"What does Vui want? To install air conditioning and add queen size beds into the rooms?," asked Tialavea.

The minister said there were only four juveniles at Tanumalala and they were housed near the clinic, which was secluded and away from where the adult prisoners were held.

''These rooms have bathrooms of their own, the luxury that is not afforded to adult prisoners,'' he said.