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Pacific nations sources for sex trafficking

Thursday 30 July 2015 | Published in Regional


Papua New Guinea and Fiji are both source and destination countries for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour, according to a US Government Report.

Papua New Guinea is singled out as a place where foreign and local women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced begging, and street vending – and foreign and local men are subjected to forced labour in logging and mining camps.

Fiji has been identified as a source country for the trafficking of women and children for sex as well as a destination for Asians who are forced into prostitution.

The Pacific nations are currently ranked Tier Two in the report.

A Tier Two ranking means their governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

The report claimed Fijian women and children were subjected to trafficking abroad or in cities for sexual exploitation or as domestic workers.

It further said there were instances where some criminal organisations deceptively recruited women from Asian countries who were then exploited in illegal brothels.

It suggested that Fiji’s no visa requirement to 132 nations could also be a contributing factor to Fiji being a transit area for human trafficking.

A more startling revelation is the alleged involvement of family members, taxi drivers, foreigners, businessmen and foreign fishing vessels crew as participants in the prostitution of Fijian children.

In Papua New Guinea, an estimated 19 per cent of the country’s labour market is comprised of child workers – some of whom are subjected to forced labour or child prostitution, according to the Trafficking in Persons report released by the US Government.

The report further says, non-government organisation (NGO) sources indicate children in prostitution increased by 30 per cent in 2013.

Although PNG does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it is making significant efforts to do so.

The 2015 report was compiled using information sourced from US embassies, government officials, non governmental organisations and international organisations, news reports, academic studies and research trips to every region.

Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said authorities were working to address the issues identified by the report.

“Fijians regard human trafficking as totally abhorrent. We welcome the positive elements of the US report on the steps we have already taken and are progressively working to address the issues that have been identified as requiring further attention,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The report recommended that Fiji continued its efforts to investigate, prosecute trafficking offences and convict and punish traffickers.

It also recommended that additional trainings for law enforcement and immigration officers on victim identification and protection be instituted.

Sayed-Khaiyum said “the progress we have made thus far underlines the fact that we have zero tolerance for human trafficking and are systematically tackling the issue within the constraints of our available resources”.