The government maintained anti-trafficking 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 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 of 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. During the reporting period, the government initiated a review of its trafficking legal framework with assistance from an international organization.
Police initiated investigations of two suspected trafficking cases during the reporting period (three in 2018) and continued to investigate three cases initiated in previous years. The government initiated prosecution of one suspected trafficker (three in 2018), and in a case involving domestic child sex trafficking, the government convicted a trafficker for the first time since 2014 and sentenced them to 14 years’ imprisonment. Following its formalization as a unit during the previous reporting period, the police’s human trafficking unit (HTU) increased its staff from four to seven officers. Nonetheless, the unit lacked adequate resources to effectively conduct investigations. Police did not proactively investigate trafficking cases consistently, and a lack of effective coordination between police and prosecutors continued to impair the government’s pursuit of trafficking cases. Inadequate victim support, including insufficient efforts to enable victims to work and earn an income while assisting with investigations, weakened 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 Department of Immigration did not renew temporary work permits to foreign victims participating in an ongoing police investigation, which hampered the police’s ability to complete the investigation when the victims returned to their home country. HTU continued to conduct trainings for police recruits and prosecutors; however, observers reported the one-day anti-trafficking trainings provided to police recruits were insufficient. Law enforcement were often not aware of the definition of trafficking, procedures for interviewing victims, or how to proactively identify victims. Fijian law enforcement continued to cooperate with South Korean authorities to investigate leaders of a church that allegedly confiscated the passports of its members who worked without pay in various companies owned by the church. 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.