The Solomon Islands is a source and destination country for local and Southeast Asian men and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Women from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are recruited from their home countries for legitimate work, often paying large sums of money in recruitment fees, and upon arrival are forced into prostitution. Men from Indonesia and Malaysia are recruited to work in the Solomon Islands’ logging and mining industries, and may be subsequently subjected to forced labor in industrial camps. Local children, many under the age of 15, are subjected to prostitution, sometimes in exchange for money or fish, particularly near foreign logging camps, on foreign and local commercial fishing vessels, and at hotels and entertainment establishments. Children are sold by their parents for marriage to foreign workers at logging and mining companies; some of these girls are later forced into domestic servitude and prostitution in the logging and fishing areas, or in their foreign husbands’ home countries. Local boys and girls are put up for “informal adoption” by their family members in order to pay off debts, and some are subsequently subjected to sexual servitude and forced labor as domestic servants. Traffickers are known to gain access to their victims through taxi drivers, local contacts, and pimps. The Solomon Islands is a destination country for foreign tourists who engage in child sex tourism.
The Government of the Solomon Islands does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government undertook modest measures, such as establishing an ad-hoc Solomon Islands Trafficking-in-Persons Advisory Committee (TIPAC), supporting committee members’ study trip to the Philippines, and establishing an informal victim assistance referral procedure for law enforcement. It did not, however, pass necessary implementing regulations for the newly enacted anti-trafficking legislation, the absence of which prevented prosecution of trafficking offenders. Therefore, Solomon Islands is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.
Recommendations for the Solomon Islands: Draft and pass implementing regulations for the immigration bill; publicly recognize and condemn incidences of trafficking; make greater efforts to investigate, prosecute, and punish trafficking offenders, such as suspected offenders of child prostitution occurring in or near logging camps; investigate the forced prostitution of foreign women and prosecute their traffickers and clients; adopt and implement proactive procedures to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers in the fishing industry and women and children in prostitution; institute a campaign to raise public awareness of human trafficking in the country; implement the draft national action plan for countering trafficking in persons; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The Government of the Solomon Islands demonstrated limited progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. The government enacted anti-trafficking legislation in early 2012; however, absent implementing regulations, authorities were unable to use the legislation to prosecute alleged traffickers. The anti-trafficking legislation prohibits and punishes all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine of 45,000 “penalty points” (the equivalent of approximately $6,700) or both for the trafficking of adults, and a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of 90,000 penalty points (the equivalent of approximately $13,300) or both for the trafficking of children. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Also contained in the bill is a provision that prohibits and punishes the withholding of travel or identity documents for the purpose of facilitating human trafficking; the penalty is imprisonment not exceeding two years or 20,000 penalty points—the equivalent of approximately $2,960—or both. The bill provides immunity from prosecution for trafficking victims for such crimes as illegal entry into the country, illegal residence or procurement, or possession of a false identification document. TIPAC reported identifying more than 30 potential trafficking cases, but due to lack of formal investigation against these cases, it was not possible to determine the nature of these cases. The Immigration Division reported a case involving 23 Malaysian loggers who were subjected to trafficking-related abuse; the logging company issued fraudulent work permits to the workers and forced them to sign contracts that contradicted the legal requirements for the issuance of the work permits. When two workers complained about conditions, company representatives detained and threatened them in front of the other loggers. In February 2013, authorities identified an Asian woman who was allegedly forced into prostitution at a resort hotel. However, these trafficking cases were not investigated or prosecuted. While the government did not host training, TIPAC members participated in foreign donor-funded trainings and activities focused on strengthening efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in Solomon Islands. The government did not adequately conduct any criminal investigations or prosecutions of government employees allegedly complicit in human trafficking during the year.
The Government of the Solomon Islands made modest efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. Law enforcement and social services personnel continued to lack systematic procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contact, nor did they have formal guidelines for the referral of human trafficking victims to organizations that provide services. The government continued to rely largely on civil society or religious organizations to provide limited services to victims of crime, including victims of human trafficking. The Family Support Center, operated by the government and funded by an NGO, is available to provide consultations to victims of gender-based violence and government-identified trafficking victims, though there were no reports of trafficking victims receiving assistance at this center. Solomon Islands Immigration, with the help of an NGO, provided shelter to the 23 male Malaysian workers at a Malaysian logging camp, though the workers were repatriated without receiving their wages from the employer. The Royal Solomon Island Police (RSIP) and Immigration referred the female Asian trafficking victim identified at a local hotel to another NGO for assistance, and she was later repatriated. TIPAC reports that women in prostitution have been arrested and prosecuted during the year without efforts being made to determine whether they were potential trafficking victims. There are no legal, medical, or psychological services available to victims in the Solomon Islands. The government has available temporary residency permits—valid for up to three months—to allow victims to assist the police in investigations, though none were granted to victims during the reporting period. The government reports the availability of civil remedies for victims of trafficking, though no victim of human trafficking has ever made use of civil causes of actions.
The government made modest efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. The Transnational Crime Unit reported conducting three anti-trafficking campaign tours with RSIP, mainly to logging camps, to focus on child prostitution. RSIP based in Isabel Province visited 20 logging camps, each twice during the year, to inspect papers, possession of passports, and discuss human trafficking and related crime issues with the local villagers. The attorney general made a public speech on October 30 at a foreign donor-funded workshop acknowledging that sex trafficking and forced labor are problems in Solomon Islands, and that enacting the 2012 immigration bill had been necessary to combat trafficking. The government took no action to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts in the country during the reporting period. The Solomon Islands is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.