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Posted: Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 11:18 AM HST

Am. Samoa passes first anti-human trafficking law

By Associated Press

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) Legislators in American Samoa have approved the territory's first anti-human trafficking law after several unsuccessful attempts over more than a decade.

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who initially proposed the bill, is expected to review it when he returns to the territory from Honolulu by the end of this week.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop says she is relieved and excited about the bill passing because it gives prosecutors another tool in addressing human trafficking cases. Jessop drafted the bill and testified during legislative hearings.

Jessop says the bill makes human trafficking illegal under penalty of five to 10 years in prison, with a mandatory 10 years if the trafficking involves a minor.

The territorial Senate approved the measure last week. It passed the House late last year.

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