Territory of American Samoa
Territory of American Samoa
(Unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States)
Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 18 December 2012
Bill of Rights
Section 1. Freedom of religion, speech, press, rights of assembly and petition. There shall be separation of church and government, and
no law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech
or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Section 2. No deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without
due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
Amendments: 1967 Section formerly provided for payment of compensation "before" the taking of property and for reversion to owner
after 3 years of non-user. H.C.R. No. 45, 10th Leg. 1st Spec. Sess., requested Secty. of Int. to revise the section to its present form.
This was done at the time of ratification and approval on June 2, 196 7.
Due process clause does not require jury trial; however the Chief Justice may so provide by rule. Pelesasa v. Te'o, ASR (1978).
Substantive due process is a fundamental right as such must be accorded litigants, nurses suspended by Personnel Advisory Board. Reed
v. Personnel Advisory Board, ASR (1977).
Section 3. Policy protective legislation. It shall be the policy of the Government of American Samoa to protect persons of Samoan
ancestry against alienation of their lands and the destruction of the Samoan way of life and language, contrary to their best interests. Such
legislation as may be necessary may be enacted to protect the lands, customs, culture, and traditional Samoan family organization of
persons of Samoan ancestry, and to encourage business enterprises by such persons. No change in the law respecting the alienation or
transfer of land or any interest therein, shall be effective unless the same be approved by two successive legislatures by a two-thirds vote
of the entire membership of each house and by the Governor.
Territory has compelling interest in preserving the lands of Samoa for Samoans; laws in conflict with U.S. not displaced. Craddick v.
Territorial Registrar, ASR (1979).
Government policy to protect persons against alienation of their lands.
Treaty of Cession of Tutuila and Aunu'u.
U.S. obligated to protect Samoan property rights.
14th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.
Section 4. Dignity of the individual. The dignity of the individual shall be respected and every person is entitled to protection of the law
against malicious and unjustifiable public attacks on the name, reputation, or honor of himself or of his family.
Section 5. Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported
by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Evidence obtained in
violation of this section shall not be admitted in any court.
Section 6. Rights of an accused. No person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or liberty; nor shall he
be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; and the failure of the accused to testify shall not be commented upon
nor taken against him. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the
nature and the cause of the accusation and to have a copy thereof; to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. Every man is presumed innocent until
he is pronounced guilty by law, and no act of severity which is not reasonably necessary to secure the arrest of an accused person shall
be permitted. All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties except where the judicial authorities shall determine that the presumption is
great that an infamous crime, which term shall include murder and rape, has been committed and that the granting of bail would constitute
a danger to the community. Bail shall be set by such judicial authorities. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed
nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.
Delay in setting trial is violative.
Government of American Samoa v. Tapusoa,ASR (1979).
"Double jeopardy" protection not violated where crime for which defendant pled guilty and was convicted, was considered a different
offense rather than a lesser included part of same offense. A.S.G. v. Moafanua, 4 ASR 2d 33 (1987).
Right to public trial not violated where courtroom cleared during testimony of juvenile victim in rape case where such exclusion was
requested by victim to avoid describing sexual acts in front of family members. A.S.G. v. Masaniai 4 ASR2d 156 (1987) (mem).
Section 7. Habeas corpus. The writ of habeas corpus shall be granted without delay and free of costs. The privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus shall not be suspended except by the Governor and then only when the public safety requires it in case of war, rebellion,
insurrection or invasion.
Section 8. Quartering of militia. No soldier or member of the militia shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent
of the owner or the lawful occupant, nor in time of war, except in a manner prescribed by law. The military authority shall always be
subordinate to the civil authority in time of peace.
Section 9. Imprisonment for debt. There shall be no imprisonment for debt except in cases of fraud.
Section 10. Slavery prohibited. Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have
been duly convicted, shall exist in American Samoa.
Section 11. Treason. Treason against the Government of American Samoa shall consist only in levying war against it, adhering to its
enemies, or giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason except on the testimony of two witnesses to the same
overt act, or a confession in open court.
Section 12. Subversives ineligible to hold public office. No person who advocates, or who aids or belongs to any party, organization, or
association which advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of American Samoa or of the United States shall be
qualified to hold any public office of trust or profit under the Government of American Samoa.
Section 13. Retroactive laws and bills of attainder. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts
shall be passed.
Section 14. Health, safety, morals and general welfare. Laws may be enacted for the protection of the health, safety, morals and general
welfare, of the people of American Samoa.
Section 15. Education. The Government shall operate a system of free and non-sectarian public education. The government will also
encourage qualified persons of good character to acquire further education, locally and abroad, both general and technical, and thereafter
to return to American Samoa to the end that the people thereof may be benefited.
Section 16. Unspecified rights and privileges and immunities. The enumeration of certain rights in this Constitution shall not be construed
to impair or deny other rights retained by the people. No law shall be made or enforced which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of
the citizens of American Samoa.
Polynesians first settled the Samoan Islands around 1000 BCE. French explorers reached
the islands and warred with islanders in the latter part of the 18th century and English
missionaries arrived in the 1830's. A German force invaded and occupied the islands in 1889
and the islands were formally divided between Germany and the United States via the Treaty
of Berlin in 1899. The United States used their Samoan territories as coaling stations for
navy steamships. A bid for independence from Germany and the United States began in
World War I but was put down by 1930. During World War II, U.S. Marines occupied the
islands, outnumbering Samoans. U.S. Navy governors had governed the islands until after
World War II when the U.S. Congress failed to pass the Organic Act 4500 which would
formally incorporate American Samoa. Pressure by influential tribal chieftains for the
creation of a local legislature, the American Samoa Fono, and self-government. As American
Samoans are nationals (not citizens) of the United States, American Samoa promulgated a
constitution on 1 July 1967. Human rights are enumerated beginning with Article I (Bill of
Rights) and conform with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however, as a
United States territory, the United States is the signatory. For a full English translation of the
American Samoa's Constitution, click here.