The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a source and, to a limited extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The groups most vulnerable to trafficking in FSM include foreign migrant workers and Micronesian women and girls who allegedly engage in prostitution at restaurants frequented by crew members of docked Asian fishing vessels or who are on vessels in FSM’s territorial waters. FSM women are recruited with promises of well-paying jobs in the United States and its territories, but are subsequently forced into prostitution or domestic labor upon arrival. Local authorities claim many sex trafficking cases are unreported due to victims’ fear of embarrassment in FSM’s insular communities. Foreign migrants, many from the Philippines, report working in conditions that are indicative of human trafficking on Asian fishing vessels in FSM or its territorial waters.
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. During the reporting year, the FSM government initiated a prosecution involving one alleged Micronesian offender and eight Micronesian victims. As part of a larger awareness campaign, the president declared a National Trafficking Day and the government implemented a national action plan to combat trafficking. The government did not, however, identify or assist any victims. It continued to lack a formal system to identify or refer victims to appropriate services and did not allocate funding for victim assistance and protection.
Recommendations for the Federated States of Micronesia:
Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; develop and implement procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as fishermen on fishing vessels in FSM or its territorial waters, women and girls in prostitution, and FSM nationals migrating to the United States for work; develop and implement a victim referral system; train officials on human trafficking and how to identify and assist trafficking victims; continue to implement the national plan of action; dedicate resources to establish protective services for victims of trafficking; continue nationwide educational campaigns to increase awareness of trafficking; and collaborate with traditional leaders to raise awareness of trafficking and to break away from customary practices that render Micronesians vulnerable to trafficking.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The national anti-trafficking law prohibits all forms of trafficking, and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for adult trafficking and 30 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking, and fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $50,000; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The Federated States of Micronesia’s four states have laws that implement the national law. Pohnpei state’s law prohibits sex trafficking of children and forced labor of adults, but not sex trafficking of adults; it prescribes penalties for these crimes of up to 10 years’ imprisonment or fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $10,000, or both. Chuuk state’s law includes the same prohibitions, but prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for forced labor, 25 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking, or fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $10,000, or both. Kosrae state’s law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment or fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $20,000, or both. Yap state’s law prohibits all form of trafficking and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment or fines not exceeding the equivalent of approximately $1 million dollars, or both. Penalties in each of these four states are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses.
During the reporting period, the government reported conducting three investigations of suspected sex trafficking offenses involving Micronesians, compared to zero in 2012. In December 2013, it initiated one prosecution, a case from 2009, compared to zero in 2012, against a Micronesian man on eight counts of criminal deprivation of civil rights, including involuntary servitude for aiding and abetting the forced labor and prostitution of eight Chuukese females. The case remained pending at the close of the reporting period. The government did not convict any traffickers under the new anti-trafficking laws.
In 2013, the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) provided anti-trafficking training to 22 national and state police, immigration, and customs officers. The DOJ, in collaboration with a foreign-funded organization, also provided human trafficking advocacy training to the Attorney General’s Offices of all four states. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking.
The FSM government demonstrated inadequate efforts to identify and protect victims of trafficking. It did not identify any new 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 or women and children in prostitution. The government made no efforts to refer trafficking victims to services or allocate resources to provide such services. The government reported that any identified trafficking victims would have access to 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; no victims received these services in 2013. FSM officials did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, or incentives to participate in trials. There were no reports of potential trafficking victims being punished for crimes that they committed as victims of trafficking; however, the government identified no victims.
The FSM government increased efforts to prevent trafficking through a heightened public awareness campaign. President Mori highlighted the importance of a Pacific regional response to combat trafficking and committed the country to make efforts to fight modern slavery. He declared January 22 as the National Trafficking Day and launched a trafficking awareness campaign in all four states. As part of this campaign, the government allocated the equivalent of approximately $75,000 to draft and enact a national plan of action to combat trafficking, hold a nationwide anti-trafficking poster contest for high school students, educate more than 3,000 high school and 60 college students, create public service announcements, and conduct community-based discussions on trafficking; these efforts took place in early 2014. DOJ and the National Police met with Pohnpei state traditional leaders to discuss ways the traditional leaders could be involved in anti-trafficking efforts. The Pohnpei Migrant Resource Center continued to provide anti-trafficking training to 250 representatives of national and state law enforcement, local churches, and women’s groups, and to 5,300 students in all four states. The FSM government provided the equivalent of approximately $190,000 to IOM and the Chuuk state government to establish a second Migrant Resource Center. While the government did not develop or disseminate campaigns aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts, it met with agents and owners of foreign fishing companies to discuss implications of labor trafficking.