Fiji is a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, and a destination country for Asian men and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Fiji’s role as a regional transportation hub makes it a potential transit area for human trafficking. Victims in Fiji are allegedly exploited in illegal brothels, local hotels, private homes, and other rural and urban locations. Victims are recruited in their home countries or deceptively recruited while visiting Fiji, sometimes by Chinese criminal organizations. Family members, other Fijian citizens, foreign tourists, and crew on foreign fishing vessels have been alleged to participate in the prostitution of Fijian children. Some Fijian children are at risk of human trafficking if their families follow a traditional practice of sending them to live with relatives or families in larger cities. These children may be subjected to domestic servitude or may be coerced to engage in sexual activity in exchange for food, clothing, shelter, or school fees. Fijian children are also subjected to labor in agriculture, begging, and industrial sectors.
The Government of Fiji does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting year, the Fijian government continued its anti-trafficking efforts, particularly through investigations that led to its first prosecution of an internal sex trafficking case, as well as another prosecution involving Thai nationals. Despite its limited resources, the Fijian government provided a range of victim protection services throughout the reporting period. Nevertheless, the government made insufficient progress in combating the serious problem of sex and labor trafficking, including of children, within the country. Authorities did not widely implement formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations during the year.
Recommendations for Fiji: Continue efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders under the provisions of the Crimes Decree; increase anti-trafficking cooperation among the Department of Immigration, the police Human Trafficking Unit, the police Transnational Crimes Unit, and other relevant government bodies; institute more trainings for law enforcement and immigration officers on victim identification and protection; develop and strengthen formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking, especially among vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers, those allegedly involved in prostitution, and children exploited by local citizens; enhance efforts to provide access to legal, medical, and psychological assistance to victims of trafficking; make efforts to allow identified trafficking victims to work and earn income while assisting with investigations; disseminate more anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at clients of child and adult prostitution; and accede to the 2000 UN Protocol.
The Government of Fiji sustained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. The government’s 2009 Crimes Decree includes comprehensive anti-trafficking provisions for both domestic and international cases. The prescribed penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment, and possible fines of up to the equivalent of approximately $400,000, are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The anti-trafficking unit investigated nine cases, compared to eight investigations during the previous reporting year, of which two were prosecuted during the current reporting period. In a case involving three Thai nationals subjected to forced prostitution by two foreign nationals and two Fijians, the government prosecuted and obtained convictions of the two offenders, who received sentences of seven to 10 years’ imprisonment without parole. Prosecution of the first internal sex trafficking case, which involved two adults who allegedly had sexually exploited children, remained in court at the end of this reporting period. The government continued to fund the Police Human Trafficking Unit’s training workshops to detect and investigate trafficking cases. Fijian government did not report any investigations or prosecutions of public officials complicit in human trafficking-related offenses during the year.
The Government of Fiji made modest efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. Victim identification efforts were sustained, as three foreign adult victims and one adult Fijian victim were identified, in addition to two child victims of sex trafficking during this reporting year. The victims were provided accommodation, security, and daily allowances. The government continued to rely on NGOs and international organizations to supply long-term care facilities and specialized services for trafficking victims. The government provided temporary visas to foreign victims of trafficking, but did not offer permanent residency status for victims who were participating in criminal trials. The government continued a policy of referring victims to the anti-trafficking unit for assistance. During the year, the Immigration Department and the Police Human Trafficking Unit used guidelines for identifying potential trafficking victims, including at the border. The government did not, however, proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations with which its officials come in contact, such as women and girls in prostitution or foreign workers in spas.
The Government of Fiji sustained its efforts to raise public awareness about human trafficking. In March 2013, the government launched a human trafficking public awareness campaign and conducted a two-day workshop for prosecutors. The Child Labour Unit (CLU) conducted child labor training for 347 primary and secondary school teachers to assist children in forced labor situations. CLU hosted oratory and picture competitions in 17 schools, around the theme of world day against child labor. The government published press releases, advertisements, and pamphlets in Mandarin, Hindi, and Thai to publicize available government assistance for potential trafficking victims, and sustained a partnership with an NGO to raise awareness, through a poster campaign, at police stations, airports, and other locations. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period. The government provided anti-trafficking training as a component of human rights training given to Fijian military personnel prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. Fiji is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.