The government modestly increased efforts to combat labor trafficking, but did not initiate investigations of sex trafficking crimes. The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2014 criminalizes all forms of trafficking in adults and children. The law prescribes penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment, and in cases involving children or aggravating circumstances, a maximum of 25 years imprisonment and a fine up to 800,000 Seychelles rupee ($60,519); these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Elements of human trafficking are also criminalized in provisions of the penal code, including section 259 prohibiting slavery and section 251 prohibiting forced labor. Although all forms of child sex trafficking are criminalized under the anti-trafficking law, enforcement of this prohibition may be hampered by unclear and conflicting statutes in the penal code that do not clearly define the ages of consent and legal majority, creating confusion between the traditionally understood age of consent (15 years of age) and the legal age of majority (18 years of age).
During the reporting period, the government investigated two potential cases of trafficking. The government initiated its first prosecution under the anti-trafficking law in a case involving alleged forced labor of four Bangladeshi victims; officials identified this case following an inspection of a construction company where officials found non-payment of wages and contractual misrepresentation. The national coordinating committee on trafficking in persons established a case conferencing group, which consisted of the relevant stakeholders to ensure a cohesive approach to the investigation and prosecution of the construction company. This contrasts with the Ministry of Labor resources and development’s past practice of treating potential cases of labor trafficking as contract disputes between employer and employee, and seeking arbitration through the labor tribunal rather than referring cases for criminal investigation. The government did not report efforts to investigate or prosecute sex trafficking. In April 2016, the Ministry of Community Development, Social Affairs and Sports, in conjunction with an international organization, conducted training for approximately 30 front-line law enforcement officers on trafficking and screening for potential indicators of human trafficking; however, many officers remained inadequately trained to identify and refer potential human trafficking cases. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.