The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a source and, to a limited extent, a destination country for women subjected to sex trafficking. Some reports suggest FSM women are recruited with promises of well-paying jobs in the United States and its territories, and are subsequently forced into prostitution or labor upon arrival. The most vulnerable groups of persons at risk for sex trafficking in FSM include foreign migrant workers and FSM women and girls, who allegedly engage in prostitution at restaurants frequented by crew members on Asian fishing vessels in FSM or on vessels in its territorial waters. Other vulnerable groups include FSM nationals who travel to the United States. Local authorities claim many sex trafficking cases are unreported due to victims’ fear of embarrassment in their communities. Authorities also claim to have received and investigated labor trafficking complaints from foreign nationals on fishing boats for lack of payment and inhumane treatment.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these steps—namely the passage of implementing regulations for FSM’s 2012 trafficking law by the states of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap—the national government did not demonstrate sufficient evidence of increasing efforts since the previous reporting period; therefore, the Federated States of Micronesia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year. During the year, the Government of FSM took steps to implement the regulations in the remaining states, but did not prosecute any trafficking cases or make efforts to identify or assist victims of trafficking. Moreover, it failed to make substantive efforts to prevent trafficking but made limited efforts to increase the general public’s awareness of trafficking.
Recommendations for the Federated States of Micronesia: Enact implementing regulations for the 2012 anti-trafficking law in the remaining state; improve efforts to investigate, prosecute, and punish all trafficking offenders; develop and implement procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as foreign workers in the FSM, fishermen on fishing vessels, women and girls in prostitution, and FSM nationals migrating to the United States for work; continually train officials on human trafficking and how to identify and assist trafficking victims; support and facilitate comprehensive and visible anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at employers of foreign workers and clients of the sex trade; make efforts to notify foreign workers of their rights, protections, and ways they can report abuse; and develop a national plan of action for anti-trafficking efforts.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia demonstrated modest effort in improving anti-trafficking law enforcement. The FSM president released a press release asking the four FSM states’ leadership to condemn all forms of human trafficking and develop action plans. In addition, the newly-appointed attorney general traveled to all four states of the country to advocate and assist in drafting of implementing regulations that would accompany the national anti-trafficking legislation enacted in 2012. In early 2013, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Kosrae states signed the implementing regulations into law; Yap state has legislation pending with its legislature.
The national anti-trafficking legislation prohibits all forms of trafficking, and prescribes penalties of 15 to 30 years’ imprisonment and fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $50,000, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The newly enacted Pohnpei and Chuuk legislations prohibit sexual servitude of children and involuntary servitude of adults, but not sexual servitude of adults. The legislations prescribe punishments of up to 10 years’ imprisonment or fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $10,000, or both. These penalties also are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses. The newly enacted Kosrae legislation prohibits all forms of trafficking and protects male, female, and children victims. Trafficking is considered a category one felony with prescribed penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment or fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $20,000, or both.
During the year, the FSM government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for sex or labor trafficking crimes. The government also did not report any investigations or prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.
The FSM government’s efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims during the reporting period remained inadequate. The government did not identify any trafficking victims within the country and did not develop or implement a system to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers and women and children in prostitution. In addition, the FSM government made no efforts to refer trafficking victims to services during the reporting period; no NGOs provided services to any trafficking victims. The government reported that if any trafficking victims were identified, they would have access to the very limited social services, such as the mental health program at a hospital in Kosrae state, and legal assistance provided to victims of general crime through the public defenders offices at the national and state level. FSM officials did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. The FSM law provides victims the opportunity to present their needs and concerns at appropriate stages of any judicial or administrative proceedings relating to any offense, including on trafficking.
The FSM government did not expand efforts to prevent trafficking, but made modest efforts to increase the general public’s awareness of trafficking during the reporting year. IOM, in collaboration with the federal and Pohnpei state governments, opened a Migrant Resource Center in Kolonia, which created educational modules on human trafficking for those migrating to the United States. The government conducted or supported only limited informational or educational campaigns solely about human trafficking and discussing its prevention to officials or the public. Government entities did not develop or disseminate campaigns aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts with children or adults. The Secretary of Justice devised training plans for state and local law enforcement officers, national prosecutors and legislators, the state and national judiciary; it also conducted training with the Yap state police and immigration officials on trafficking. The FSM government still lacks a national action plan against trafficking in persons. The FSM government, however, has allocated resources for anti-trafficking efforts for this fiscal year but had not determined how this funding would be used.