FIJI: Tier 2 Watch List
The Government of Fiji does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by investigating six trafficking cases, prosecuting three suspected traffickers, providing services to six victims, providing anti-trafficking training to police recruits, and acceding to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. The government did not convict any traffickers for the third consecutive year or dedicate sufficient resources to officials leading anti-trafficking efforts. It did not proactively screen for trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, particularly children exploited in sex trafficking, or take steps to implement its anti-trafficking national action plan. Therefore Fiji was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FIJI
Dedicate and increase resources for the police anti-trafficking unit; develop and implement formal victim identification and referral procedures; proactively screen vulnerable groups, such as foreign migrant workers on fishing vessels, those allegedly involved in prostitution, and exploited children, for trafficking; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish traffickers, including by improving interagency coordination; amend the Crimes Decree to criminalize all forms of trafficking in persons, including forced labor; update and implement the 2011 anti-trafficking national action plan; designate a government agency responsible for coordinating victim services; make efforts to allow identified trafficking victims to work and earn income while assisting with investigations; and increase dissemination of labor and sex trafficking awareness campaigns.
The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The 2009 Crimes Decree criminalized some forms of labor trafficking and all forms of sex trafficking. Sections 112-117 criminalized trafficking in persons but, inconsistent with international law, required either transnational or domestic movement in order to constitute a trafficking offense. These articles prescribed penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment for movement-based trafficking offenses involving adult victims, and up to 25 years imprisonment for those involving child victims; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with other serious crimes, such as kidnapping. While sections 103 and 118 criminalized slavery and debt bondage respectively, all forms of labor trafficking were not criminalized under the Crimes Decree. The law prescribed penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for slavery, and penalties of up to one year imprisonment for debt bondage involving an adult victim and up to two years imprisonment for those involving a child victim; the penalties for slavery were sufficiently stringent, while the penalties for debt bondage were not. Sections 226 and 227 criminalized the buying or selling of children for “immoral purposes,” which included prostitution, and prescribed penalties of up to 12 years imprisonment; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping. Section 106 criminalized sexual servitude by means of force or threat and prescribed penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment if the offense involved an adult victim, and up to 20 years imprisonment if the offense involved a child victim; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping. Section 107 criminalized “deceptive recruiting for sexual services,” including inducing and maintaining individuals in prostitution through deceptive means, and prescribed penalties of up to seven years imprisonment if the offense involved an adult victim and up to nine years imprisonment if the offense involved a child victim; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping.
The police anti-trafficking unit investigated six new cases in 2017 (five in 2016); five cases involved labor trafficking and one involved child sex trafficking. The government initiated prosecutions of three alleged traffickers (three in 2016) and obtained zero trafficking convictions for the third consecutive year. The police anti-trafficking unit did not have dedicated or adequate resources to effectively conduct trafficking investigations and other anti-trafficking activities. Weak interagency collaboration between police and prosecutors impaired the government’s pursuit of trafficking cases. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government decreased efforts to identify and protect victims. The police anti-trafficking unit identified six trafficking victims (nine in 2016), including five Filipino men who were subjected to forced labor in construction. Despite reports of child sex trafficking, the government identified only one Fijian child subjected to sex trafficking for the second consecutive year. The government provided shelter for the foreign victims in government safe houses and provided mental health treatment for the child victim. Police officials reported using informal guidelines to identify potential trafficking victims and the government reported providing training for labor inspectors on victim identification, which it did provide in the previous reporting period. The government continued to fund anti-trafficking training for new police recruits, but authorities did not proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations; all victims identified during the reporting period were initially referred to police by members of civil society. There were no reports that officials detained, fined, or otherwise penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking, however the lack of proactive screening may have resulted in the penalization of unidentified victims. The government did not develop a formal mechanism to refer victims to services as set out in its national anti-trafficking action plan, and did not designate an agency to coordinate victim services. The government made available accommodation, legal aid, medical care, interpreters, and allowances for basic necessities. The government apportioned funds to operate safe houses for trafficking victims, asylum-seekers, and migrants awaiting deportation; four children’s homes operated by the government were available to shelter victims younger than 21 years of age. The government did not offer legal alternatives to foreign victims’ removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship or allow foreign victims to work while assisting with investigations. Victims had the right to file for civil remedies, but none took advantage of that legal right.
The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. The government completed an anti-trafficking national action plan in 2011 but had not taken steps to implement the plan. The interagency trafficking task force has not been active since 2012. The police anti-trafficking unit conducted public awareness campaigns and seminars aimed at children and parents. Immigration and labor officials conducted awareness programs targeted at Fijians who work overseas to prevent labor exploitation. Immigration officials did not routinely take steps to investigate or verify the legitimacy of employers of migrant workers. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to Fijian military personnel prior to their deployment abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions. The government acceded to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol during the reporting period.
As reported over the past five years, Fiji is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Fijian women and children are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude. Family members, taxi drivers, foreign tourists, businessmen, and crew on foreign fishing vessels have allegedly exploited Fijian children in sex trafficking. Some Fijian children are at risk of human trafficking as families follow a traditional practice of sending them to live with relatives or families in larger cities, where they may be subjected to domestic servitude or coerced to engage in sexual activity in exchange for food, clothing, shelter, or school fees. Women from China, Thailand, and other East Asian countries are exploited in illegal brothels posing as massage parlors and spas, local hotels, and private homes. Fijian adults working overseas, including in Australia and New Zealand, are vulnerable to forced labor, particularly in the construction and agriculture industries. Workers from South and East Asian countries are subjected to forced labor in small and informal farms and factories, construction, and on fishing vessels that transit through Fiji or board fishing vessels (mainly China and Taiwan-flagged) from Fiji ports and waters.