The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2014 criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The law prescribed penalties of up to 14 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to 500,000 Seychelles rupee (SR) ($37,510) for offenses involving adult victims, and a maximum of 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to 800,000 SR ($60,020) for those involving child victims; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Although the anti-trafficking law criminalized child sex trafficking, unclear and conflicting statutes in the penal code did not clearly define the ages of consent, causing confusion between the traditionally understood age of consent (15 years of age) and the legal age of majority (18 years of age). In 2017, the government, in collaboration with an international organization, began development of implementing regulations for the 2014 anti-trafficking law to address protective measures for trafficking victims; however, the government did not finalize these regulations for the fourth consecutive year. In 2020, the Child Law Reform Committee drafted new legislation that reportedly expands protections for child sex trafficking victims and increases law enforcement’s obligation to investigate and prosecute cases of child sex crimes, including trafficking; however, the new legislation was not presented to the National Assembly for the second consecutive reporting period.
The government investigated 24 potential trafficking cases—three for sex trafficking, 11 for forced labor, and 10 involving unspecified exploitation—in 2021, compared with three investigations in the previous reporting period. The government did not initiate any prosecutions, compared with 12 prosecutions in 2020 and none in 2019, and reported 18 prosecutions remained ongoing from previous reporting periods. The government convicted two traffickers, which was the same number of convictions as the previous reporting period. Courts sentenced a Seychellois national to 14 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking under the 2014 anti-trafficking law. Courts also sentenced a Seychellois national to three years’ imprisonment and a fine for labor trafficking involving three Bangladeshi migrant workers; courts also ordered the trafficker to pay each victim 10,000 SR ($750). In response to the pandemic, police officers, including those mandated to investigate trafficking crimes, were diverted from enforcement duties and assigned to oversee pandemic-related guidelines and procedures, such as mask- wearing, curfews, social distancing, and mandatory quarantines, for a portion of the reporting period. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. For the first time in three years, the government, in partnership with international organizations, trained officials on anti-trafficking enforcement, policies, and laws. Despite training efforts, the government did not institutionalize anti- trafficking training, and some police, immigration officers, prosecutors, and judges continued to lack a clear understanding of trafficking, which hampered law enforcement and victim identification efforts. The government reported cooperating with foreign governments on trafficking investigations.