The US State Department says it observed some "human rights problems" in Samoa last year, despite the fact the government generally respects the human rights of its citizens.
The department's annual report on Human Rights said in Samoa there were worsened prison conditions for male inmates, unfair parliamentary proceedings, violence against women and children, and discrimination against women and non-matai.
The report says politics and culture reflected a heritage of matai privilege and power, and members of certain families had some advantages.
It said there was discrimination against women and non-matai, who only occasionally reached high office.
But the report noted that women and particularly the few female matai played an important role in society.