The government increased investigations and training, but it convicted only one offender, who was allowed to pay restitution to his victims in lieu of a prison sentence. The national anti-trafficking law criminalizes all forms of trafficking, and each of the four states has its own trafficking law prescribing penalties. The national and state laws prescribe prison sentences that are sufficiently stringent. However, when allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment is not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. In lieu of prison time, offenders convicted in Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae states can elect to pay a fine as low as $5,000; offenders may face even lower fines in Pohnpei State. Courts may also approve plea bargains requiring the payment of restitution costs to victims in lieu of prison sentences. The national law prescribes penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment or fines up to $25,000 for adult trafficking, and 30 years imprisonment or fines up to $50,000 for child trafficking. Pohnpei State’s law prohibits sex trafficking of children and forced labor of adults and prescribes penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment or fines up to $10,000, or both; however, it does not explicitly prohibit sex trafficking of adults. 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 sex 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 forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment or fines up to $1 million, or both.
In 2016, the government reported conducting investigations into eight alleged trafficking cases in Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap, compared to five in 2015 and two in 2014. Of these investigations, only one led to a prosecution culminating in a conviction, compared to one conviction in 2015 and none in 2014. Yap State convicted a local restaurant owner for subjecting two Filipino citizens to forced labor, but the courts approved a plea bargain that obligated the trafficker to pay full repatriation costs and $7,000 in restitution for each victim. Two other cases identified in 2016 were pending a trial date at the end of the reporting period. In partnership with an international organization and a foreign government, the government conducted anti-trafficking training for 70 law enforcement officials and 75 service providers—an increase from 30 law enforcement and government officials in 2015. Authorities did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.