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The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore FSM remained on Tier 2. These efforts included securing a facility for its second trafficking victim shelter, increasing trafficking awareness activities for the public, and continuing to identify victims and convict traffickers. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government remained without comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs) for proactive victim identification and referral to protection services. Courts continued to issue lenient sentences to convicted traffickers, creating potential safety problems for trafficking victims, weakening deterrence, and undercutting nationwide efforts to fight trafficking. Overall protection services and training for law enforcement and judicial officials continued to be insufficient. Unlike the previous year, the government did not report allocating funding to victim services.

Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, and sentence convicted traffickers to significant prison terms. • Finalize, disseminate, and train officials on procedures for the proactive identification and referral of trafficking victims to rehabilitation services. • Increase resources for protection services for trafficking victims. • Screen for trafficking indicators among vulnerable groups, including individuals in commercial sex. • Increase and institutionalize anti-trafficking training for police, prosecutors, and judges, including on how to implement a victim-centered approach. • Provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. • Strengthen efforts to implement the national action plan (NAP) and state-level plans, including through staffing a governmental anti-trafficking secretariat. • Monitor foreign labor recruitment for trafficking indicators, including the coercive use of debt. • Strengthen efforts to conduct anti-trafficking awareness campaigns targeted to traditional leaders, health care professionals, and the public, including those citizens of FSM who might migrate for work overseas.

The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The national anti-trafficking law criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $5,000-$25,000, or both for offenses involving adult victims, and up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a fine of between $5,000-$50,000, or both for offenses involving child victims. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regards to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. Each of Micronesia’s four states had its own laws that criminalized trafficking crimes; however, Pohnpei and Chuuk States did not explicitly prohibit adult sex trafficking. Cases prosecuted at the state level may be heard subsequently at the national level, under national anti-trafficking law, depending on which court hears a case.

The government did not report any new trafficking investigations, compared with one in 2019, and prosecuted four alleged traffickers, compared with eight in 2019. Courts convicted four traffickers during the reporting period, compared with six in 2019. Courts sentenced one trafficker to three months’ imprisonment and a $100 fine, one to 12 months’ imprisonment and a $250 fine, one to seven years’ imprisonment and seven years’ probation, and one to 10 years’ imprisonment (served only on the weekends during the 10 years) and a $5,000 fine. Lenient sentences of a year or less or those that were not served on consecutive days created potential safety problems for trafficking victims and weakened deterrence. The government continued to prosecute a child sex trafficking case involving one child victim and three alleged traffickers during the reporting period. In the previous reporting period, the acting attorney general of Yap was murdered, and some media reports stated the motive, which remained unclear, may have been related to her prosecution work, including on human trafficking. The government charged two perpetrators with 19 counts ranging from murder and manslaughter to firearms possession; the trial was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. Law enforcement officials cooperated with a foreign government on an ongoing international trafficking case.

During a prior reporting period, the Department of Justice (DOJ) assigned a full-time assistant attorney general to prosecute all human trafficking cases and hired four investigators who specialized in human trafficking. The placement of the investigators changed during the reporting period; one was placed at the national government, one in Chuuk, one in Pohnpei, and one in Kosrae compared to two in Chuuk and two in Kosrae in prior reporting periods. In September 2020, the government funded its second annual three-day anti-trafficking conference that included victim-centered approach training for law enforcement officials and service providers from the national and Pohnpei State governments; FSM and foreign government officials, international organizations, and civil society stakeholders conducted the training. Unlike in prior years, the government did not report providing DOJ with funding for investigations and awareness activities. DOJ continued to provide state and national level anti-trafficking training for law enforcement, judges, lawyers, health providers, faith-based organizations, and youth and women’s groups. Despite these trainings, judges overall continued to lack specialized training and, consequently, some judges lacked sensitivity to trafficking issues and the trauma victims experienced at times, resulting in judges sentencing traffickers to penalties that were disproportionately low to the severity of the crime. The government’s police academy training for new cadets included mandatory training on investigating trafficking cases and how to interview potential victims. Observers stated police still required additional training on sex trafficking and sophisticated investigation techniques. Police did not frequently investigate or charge traffickers who facilitate rather than impose exploitation, such as hotel owners, taxi drivers, and family members. The insular nature of the small island communities at times protected traffickers and impeded investigations. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking crimes.

The government demonstrated mixed efforts to protect victims. In the previous reporting period, the government finalized and approved SOPs for victim assistance and referral to state law enforcement; however, the government remained without comprehensive SOPs to proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them to services. In addition, the current SOPs did not contain measures to screen for trafficking indicators among LGBTQI+ individuals, who were disproportionately vulnerable to trafficking. The government identified four victims during the reporting period, compared with five victims who self-identified as victims to the government during the previous reporting period. The government reported providing food, clothing, medical services, psychological evaluation, counseling services, and academic and social reintegration support, in partnership with an international organization, to two trafficking victims. This was compared with the government providing limited protection services to four victims during the previous reporting period. Authorities may have penalized unidentified victims through law enforcement actions against them, such as deportation, due to insufficient identification efforts.

An international organization facilitated a port security project that included a component on gender based violence and trafficking victim identification and protection procedures; DOJ helped facilitate the project and is the lead agency for implementing victim-centered processes. In January 2021, DOJ, with assistance from an international organization, finalized a needs assessment and action plan for the implementation of the project. The government identified and secured a building to serve as its second shelter, available to trafficking victims, in Pohnpei; its first shelter, available to all victims of crimes, in Chuuk continued to provide services throughout the reporting period. The government did not report providing funding to victim services, a decrease from $120,000 in 2019; additionally, unlike in prior reporting periods, the government did not report providing any funding for a trafficking victim psychologist and the trafficking hotline. Despite this, the trafficking hotline continued to operate 24 hours a day in English and local languages, and while it received calls during the reporting period, none of the calls resulted in trafficking investigations. Since 2018, the government has not reported if the DOJ national anti-human trafficking coordinator and three assistant state coordinators continued to provide support to victims through the trial and for several years after the disposition of the victim’s case. Courts ordered convicted traffickers to pay restitution to one victim during the reporting period. The government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.

The government modestly increased efforts to prevent trafficking. DOJ coordinated the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. During the previous reporting period, an executive order created the Division of Anti-Human Trafficking within the DOJ; the division was tasked with conducting public awareness campaigns, developing anti-trafficking training programs, providing victim protection services, and assisting in investigations. Each of the four states had an anti trafficking task force composed of members of state and national law enforcement, the legal community, medical and mental health professionals, immigration officials, and women’s empowerment and faith-based groups; only Chuuk’s task force was active during the reporting period. The government reported it continued to implement its 2014 NAP and three of the four states had action plans linked to the NAP. DOJ conducted a series of awareness activities, both in-person and virtual, throughout the four states for a variety of groups including government officials, school stakeholders, and church members. Public awareness campaigns included radio question and answer programs, installation of anti-trafficking billboards and banners in communities, a walk organized in conjunction with a trafficking awareness program, community distribution of anti-trafficking bumper stickers and t-shirts, and a trafficking awareness text message sent to more than 20,000 cell phone subscribers throughout the FSM. The government did not report any efforts to monitor foreign labor recruitment or provide information on safe migration and human trafficking indicators to Micronesian nationals leaving to work in other countries. While the government continued to report conducting awareness campaigns focused on destigmatizing individuals in commercial sex and closing known brothels, it did not report efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in the FSM, and traffickers exploit victims from FSM abroad. Sex traffickers exploit Micronesian women and girls through commercial sex with the crewmembers of docked Asian fishing vessels, crewmembers on vessels in FSM territorial waters, or with foreign construction workers. Some family members exploit Micronesian girls in sex trafficking. There are reports of children exploited in commercial sex facilitated by taxi drivers. Local authorities claim many sex trafficking cases are unreported due to social stigma and victims’ fear of possible repercussions in their home communities. LGBTQI+ individuals are disproportionately vulnerable to trafficking. Foreign and domestic employers in FSM exploit low-skilled foreign migrant workers in forced labor, including in restaurants. Foreign migrants from Southeast Asian countries report working in conditions indicative of human trafficking on Asian fishing vessels in FSM or its territorial waters. Traffickers recruit FSM women and men with promises of well-paying jobs in the United States and its territories but upon their arrival they are subsequently forced into commercial sex, domestic servitude, or forced labor.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future