The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The 2009 Crimes Act 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. Sex trafficking offenses that did not involve movement could be prosecuted under Sections 106, 107, 226, and 227 of the Crimes Act. 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. 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. 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. The penalties prescribed under these sections were sufficiently stringent and commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. While Sections 103 and 118 criminalized slavery and debt bondage respectively, all forms of labor trafficking were not criminalized under the Crimes Act. 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.
Police initiated investigations of three suspected trafficking cases in 2018 (six in 2017). The government initiated prosecutions of two suspects for their alleged involvement in subjecting Fijians to forced labor in New Zealand and one alleged sex trafficker (three in 2017). The government obtained zero trafficking convictions for the fourth consecutive year. In an effort to improve the capacity of the police’s anti-trafficking unit, which did not previously have adequate resources to effectively conduct investigations, the government formalized the unit in order to increase its budget and staff to seven officers; however, the budget did not increase during the reporting period. Police did not proactively investigate trafficking cases. Prosecutors continued to return case files to the police for further investigation, and police continued to request additional instruction on the requirements of trafficking case files. This disconnect continued to impair the government’s pursuit of trafficking cases. Inadequate victim support, including insufficient efforts to enable victims to work and earn income while assisting with investigations, impaired the success of prosecutions. Restrictive policies limiting law enforcement officials’ access to child victims staying in government shelters may have hindered the ability of police and prosecutors to build rapport with victims, obtain statements, and prepare victims for trials against their traffickers. The government conducted seven trainings for police recruits and prosecutors; however, contacts reported law enforcement were often not aware of the definition of trafficking, procedures for interviewing victims, or how to proactively identify victims. Fijian law enforcement cooperated with South Korean authorities to investigate leaders of a church that allegedly confiscated the passports of its members who worked in various companies owned by the church without pay. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses; however, some reports indicated low-level official complicity impeded anti-trafficking efforts, including by preventing the investigation of trafficking in Chinese-operated brothels.