8 Jul 2004

US Senate committee holds hearing on alleged human trafficking in American Samoa

3:31 pm on 8 July 2004

A United States Senate Committee will hold a hearing in American Samoa on alleged human trafficking and slavery at the now closed garment factory, Daewoosa Samoa.

Among the witnesses, is a Washington-based group, Human Rights Watch, which spoke out in 2000 against problems encountered by about 200 Vietnamese and Chinese workers who were employed at the factory.

A U.S. Justice Department report submitted to the Congress highlighted the Daewoosa case and its owner Kil Soo Lee as the largest trafficking prosecution brought to trial.

The report says that Lee brought over 250 Vietnamese and Chinese nationals, mostly young women, to work as sewing machine operators.

The report also stated some victims, were forced to work through extreme food deprivation, beatings and physical restraint for up to two years.

Lee, a South Korean national, remains in jail and currently is undergoing a psychological evaluation ordered by the court and is scheduled for sentencing next Thursday.