American Samoa To Host Human Trafficking Conference

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Goal of meeting to build partnerships among various agencies

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Nov. 18, 2014) – Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop has issued a statement saying that the AG’s office — in collaboration with the Amerika Samoa Multi-Disciplinary Team against Family Violence (MDT) — will be hosting the first ever American Samoa Human Trafficking Conference here in the Territory.

The goal of the conference is to build a collaborative response to Human Trafficking in American Samoa. "It is to build partnerships between local law enforcement, prosecutors, direct medical, health, social services and education service providers and community based organizations to address issues regarding human trafficking starting with the initial investigation, to prosecution, to services for victims," said the Deputy AG.

The MDT group advocates for survivors of family violence and trafficking victims and they work with zero funding, according to Jessop. The MDT partners have been advocating for victims and survivors of domestic violence, victims of child abuse and sexual assault; and the prevention and awareness of human trafficking. Jessop is the Chairperson for the MDT.

This follows the recent passage of the first Human Trafficking bill that was signed into law by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga. In a statement in response to Samoa News queries, Jessop said this particular bill will give the prosecutors and judiciary a tool to control and hopefully remove human trafficking from the territory. She also pointed out that at this conference, American Samoa’s new human trafficking law will be reviewed, along with the major components of this legislation, process and impetus for this law.

The theme chosen for this first conference is "Building a Collaborative Response to Human Trafficking in American Samoa" with presenters who have vast knowledge and background on the subject.

According to the conference program, there will be four presenters. They are:

SUZANNA TIAPULA

A Distinguished Fellow at the Institute on Violence, Abuse & Trauma, Alliant International University. Tiapula — born and raised in Aoa — previously served as a Deputy District Attorney in Honolulu, Hawai’i, as well as an Assistant Attorney General in American Samoa. She has also served as Director of the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Programs.

She is the former Director of the NDAA’s National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse (NCPCA) and NDAA’s Human Trafficking Programs, where she managed design and delivery of training to approximately 20,000 criminal justice professionals each year and managed a system that responded to between 400 – 600 technical assistance requests from front line professionals per month.

MAJA HASIC

An Anti-Human trafficking program director with Tapestri Inc., a non-profit social service agency that works with survivors of violence from the immigrant and refugee community. She designs and provides training and outreach to mainstream service providers, law enforcement, and community organizations on human trafficking on a local, state-wide, and national basis. She’s currently working to establish collaborative relationships with other nonprofit organizations and law enforcement around the issue of human trafficking.

TERRENCE TROTTER

The Wage & Hour Division’s Director for the Hawaii District Office, which includes the State of Hawaii, as well as American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Wake and Johnston Islands will also be presenting at the conference.

He is responsible for the Compliance Assistance and Enforcement Program within his jurisdiction relating to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, federally funded construction (public works) projects and several other programs that provide baseline standards and protections for employees. He is a participant in the Hawaii Coalition Against Human Trafficking task force.

Recently, he has assigned a Wage Hour investigator to remain in American Samoa and promote awareness of federal labor laws, as well as conduct on-site investigations with various employers in the private and public sectors.

JENNIFER TSE

The U Visa Coordinator for the Western Region in the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Her region covers eight states and three U.S. territories, including Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. In her position as the U Visa Coordinator, she works with exploited workers and makes recommendations whether to certify immigrant victims of labor crimes for immigration relief.

Of the labor crimes, she works especially with victims of trafficking crimes. Prior to her position with the Department of Labor, Jennifer was an attorney at the Immigrant Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She worked both as an immigration attorney and in litigation primarily involving class-action labor trafficking, workers’ rights, and civil rights cases. She has provided technical legal support and training related to immigration relief on behalf of victims of human trafficking.

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