Micronesia

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Report

MICRONESIA: Tier 2

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a source, transit, and, to a limited extent, 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 in prostitution. Girls are allegedly exploited in prostitution by crew members of docked Asian fishing vessels. FSM women recruited with promises of well-paying jobs in the United States and its territories 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 from Southeast Asian countries report working in conditions 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 meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the FSM government convicted one Micronesian trafficker who victimized eight Micronesian victims in 2009 and initiated three new prosecutions against suspected traffickers. It also continued to coordinate efforts across four states to implement the national plan of action. The government did not, however, identify any trafficking victims, despite evidence of trafficking uncovered during investigations involving minors in commercial sexual activity. It continued to lack a formal system to identify or refer victims to appropriate services. The government did not allocate specific budgetary funding for victim protection, although it provided assistance for eight Chuukese women who testified in court.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA:

Develop and implement procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses that lead to the conviction and punishment of traffickers; impose adequate sentences on convicted traffickers; develop and implement a victim referral system and establish specialized protective services for trafficking victims; continue to implement the national plan of action; and continue to collaborate with traditional leaders to raise awareness of trafficking and to break away from customary practices that exacerbate vulnerabilities to trafficking.

PROSECUTION

The government modestly increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The national anti-trafficking law prohibits all forms of trafficking, and the four states have laws that implement the national law. National and state laws allow for sufficiently stringent prison sentences but allow convicted offenders to pay a fine in lieu of prison time—a penalty that is not proportionate to the severity of the crime committed and not sufficiently stringent. The national law prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for adult trafficking and 30 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking, or fines up to $50,000. 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 up to $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 up to $10,000, or both. Kosrae State’s law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment or fines up to $20,000, or both. Yap State’s law prohibits all form of trafficking and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment or fines up to $1,000,000, or both.

The government convicted a Micronesian man for the sexual exploitation of eight Chuukese females in a case that originated in 2009. He was convicted under criminal civil rights provisions, as the crimes occurred before passage of the national anti-trafficking law, and was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment to be served under probationary house arrest, due to the trafficker’s need for special accommodations not available in the correctional facility. The government initiated five new investigations of suspected child sex trafficking, compared with two in 2014. Three of those investigations, involving a total of seven suspected sex traffickers, were filed with the FSM Supreme Court and are pending a trial date. The government conducted anti-trafficking training for 30 law enforcement officials and executive and legislative branch officials. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.

PROTECTION

The government demonstrated inadequate efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. It did not identify any trafficking victims during the year, even in cases under investigation for child sex trafficking, and did not develop or implement a system to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups. The government made no efforts to refer potential trafficking victims to specialized services or allocate resources to provide such services. The government continued to provide hotel accommodation, food, security, and flights between Chuuk and Pohnpei for the eight Chuukese victims identified in a 2009 trafficking case. The government reported 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. 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 committed as victims of trafficking; however, due to a lack of formal victim identification procedures in use during the reporting period, some victims went unidentified in the law enforcement system.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. As part of its National Trafficking Day in January 2016, the government carried out a trafficking awareness campaign in all four states, including remarks by the Pohnpei lieutenant governor, members of civil society, and youth groups. The government spent $75,000 for its anti-trafficking efforts in 2015, a decrease from $92,500 in 2014. With part of these resources, the government continued to fund two migrant resource centers in Pohnpei and Chuuk, which provided pre-departure training, including anti-trafficking awareness training, to Micronesians who intend to emigrate. The government did not develop campaigns or disseminate informational materials aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.