The Solomon Islands is a source, transit, 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, some 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 Solomon Islands’ logging and mining industries and may be subsequently subjected to forced labor in industrial camps. Fishing crew members from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, North Korea, and Fiji have reported indicators of human trafficking, including severe living conditions, violence, limited food supply, and nonpayment of wages on Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessels in Solomon Islands’ territorial waters and ports.
Local children are also subjected to prostitution and forced labor within the country. Children 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. Some parents sell their children to foreign workers at logging and mining companies for marriage; some of these girls are later forced into domestic servitude and prostitution in the logging and fishing areas. Local boys and girls are put up for “informal adoption” by their family members in order to pay off debts; some are subsequently subjected to sexual servitude by the adopted family members or guardians, or forced labor as domestic servants. Boys are forced to work as domestic servants and cooks in logging camps.
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. Immigration officials reported investigating an unspecified number of alleged labor trafficking cases in the fishing industry, in which potential victims of trafficking were interviewed and repatriated. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts; therefore, Solomon Islands is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year. During the reporting period, the government passed implementing regulations for the 2012 Immigration Bill, which prohibits all forms of trafficking, but they were not gazetted. The government did not press charges against suspected traffickers or actively assist trafficking victims. The government also did not allocate funding for national anti-trafficking efforts.
Recommendations for the Solomon Islands:
Investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including those involved in utilizing forced labor on fishing vessels and children in prostitution and forced labor in or near logging camps, fishing vessels, and in the tourism industry; 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 and logging sectors 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 combatting trafficking in persons; and become a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The Government of the Solomon Islands demonstrated limited progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. It approved, but did not gazette, implementing regulations for the Immigration Bill of 2012, which prohibits and punishes all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine 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 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. The law also 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, a fine the equivalent of approximately $2,960, or both. The law 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.
The government did not report any prosecutions of trafficking offenses or convictions of suspected traffickers. The Immigration Division reported investigating more than 27 potential trafficking cases involving migrant workers in the fishing industry who were reportedly lured under false contracts in foreign countries and then deprived of their passports, mistreated, and not paid. Immigration officials interviewed and repatriated the victims, but could not gain cooperation from the Department of Labor or the office of the Attorney General to further investigate or prosecute the alleged traffickers.
In September 2013, the Chief Immigration Officer, with the assistance of foreign funding, led anti-trafficking training for ten government officers in various ministries. Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee (TIPAC) members also participated in foreign donor-funded training and activities focused on strengthening efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in Solomon Islands. The government did not 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 reporting period. Law enforcement and social services personnel continued to lack systematic procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among high-risk groups and formal guidelines to refer 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, and did not provide or allocate funding for anti-trafficking efforts. The Family Support Center, 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 in 2013.
During the reporting period, Solomon Islands Immigration, with the help of a local business, referred 11 male Indonesian crewmembers, who were victims of labor trafficking on a fishing vessel, to shelter services. The government did not identify or protect any victims of sex trafficking and did not operate any shelters for trafficking victims. The government has the authority to provide temporary residency permits—valid for up to three months—to allow foreign victims to assist the police in investigations, though no victims were granted a permit during the reporting period. The government reports that victims are able to seek compensation from their traffickers through civil suits; however, no trafficking victims have filed such suits. TIPAC reported that women in prostitution were arrested and prosecuted during the year without efforts being made to determine whether they were victims of human trafficking.
The government made negligible efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. During the reporting year, the government did not conduct any educational campaigns or workshops to increase awareness of trafficking. The law of 2012 was not gazetted; as a result, a national action plan to combat trafficking drafted in 2012 remained pending approval, and TIPAC remained an unofficial body at the end of the reporting period. The government did not take any measures to decrease the prevalence of child sex tourism in Solomon Islands. It also took no action to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor in the country during the reporting period. The Solomon Islands is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.