The government increased law enforcement efforts by adding provisions to its penal code criminalizing internal trafficking. These amendments enacted in May 2016, together with existing provisions in the immigration act, prohibit and punish all forms of trafficking. Article 143 of the amended penal code prohibits child sex trafficking and prescribes penalties of up to 15 or 20 years imprisonment, based on the child’s age. Article 145 of the amended penal code prohibits all forms of trafficking in which the act occurs within the country and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes. The immigration act prohibits and punishes other forms of trafficking, including crimes in which the act (recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receiving) occurs outside the Solomon Islands. The immigration act prescribes a penalty of up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to 45,000 Solomon Island dollars ($5,670), or both for the trafficking of adults; it prescribes a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of up to 90,000 penalty units ($11,340), or both for the trafficking of children. These penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with penalties for other serious offenses, such as rape. Further, fines in lieu of imprisonment are inadequate to deter trafficking crimes and are disproportionately low compared to the seriousness of the crime.
As in the previous reporting period, the government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers. Authorities investigated two new cases of suspected trafficking, compared to two in 2015. One was a possible sex trafficking case involving a girl from the Solomon Islands and the second was a labor trafficking case involving ten foreign men—both occurring at logging camps. Law enforcement officials referred the case of suspected child sex trafficking to the director of public prosecutions; authorities were awaiting guidance from the prosecutor’s office at the end of the reporting period. Courts dropped the forced labor investigation due to insufficient cooperation from key government officials. Two suspected cases of forced labor identified in previous reporting periods remained under consideration by the director of public prosecution. Because the government did not adequately fund enforcement agencies, authorities were slow to respond to reports of trafficking; agencies lacked logistical resources and technical expertise to pursue investigations. A foreign donor conducted training for law enforcement officials, including two “train the trainer” courses, but the government did not conduct any training itself. Many officials remained unaware of anti-trafficking legislation and an overall lack of awareness of trafficking hindered effective law enforcement activity. The government did not conduct any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.