10 Mar 2014

American Samoa says it can't punish human trafficking without laws

5:27 pm on 10 March 2014

American Samoa's deputy attorney-general says new laws criminalising human trafficking will give her office more authority to prosecute cases.

The final approval to the human trafficking bill was endorsed by the Senate last week while the House gave its approval late last year, a month after it was submitted by the Lolo administration.

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

Mitzie Jessop, who drafted the legislation, says she is excited with the bill's passage, after years of attempts.

"I know that there might be a perception that human trafficking does not exist here in the Pacific. Unfortunately since I've been in the attorney-general's office, I have seen a lot of cases that have come through our office and I cannot prosecute those cases because I have no laws."

Mitzie Jessop says a person convicted of human trafficking will face serious jail time, and offences against minors will carry more severe sentences.