13 Mar 2014

American Samoa trafficking law to target abusers of Samoan domestic workers

4:36 pm on 13 March 2014

American Samoa's deputy attorney general says the majority of human trafficking victims in the territory are citizens from Samoa being treated by local relatives as slaves.

A bill outlawing human trafficking was officially endorsed by the Fono and has now been sent to the governor, who proposed the law.

Last year, an American Samoan man was charged with sexually assaulting three women, including a minor, who had been brought from Samoa to do domestic work.

Some residents have complained that bringing relatives from Samoa to do domestic work is a long standing practice, and shouldn't be seen as trafficking.

But Mitzie Jessop says that culture has been hijacked.

"Unfortunately we do have people here that are taking advantage of that situation and they're adulterating our culture so that they are using their own family members as slaves to do their domestic work without compensating them and without taking care of them."

American Samoa's deputy attorney general Mitzie Jessop.