The government increased 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 it prescribed penalties of up to one year’s 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 six trafficking investigations, all of which involved forced labor, and continued 11 trafficking investigations from previous reporting periods, an increase compared with initiating three investigations in the previous reporting period. The government initiated prosecution of two alleged traffickers and continued prosecution of an unknown number of alleged traffickers from previous reporting periods, compared with initiating prosecution of one alleged trafficker in the previous reporting period. Courts did not convict any traffickers, compared with convicting one trafficker in the previous reporting period. In June 2022, courts overturned the conviction of one trafficker on an appeal.
The police’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) led the government’s antitrafficking law enforcement efforts, in partnership with the Fiji Immigration Department (FID) and the Fiji Ministry of Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations (MEPIR) on cases relating to cross-border trafficking and labor exploitation. However, police did not proactively investigate trafficking cases consistently and the government has only successfully prosecuted two traffickers since 2014. The government did not report efforts to investigate child sex tourists or facilitators who transported child sex trafficking victims to hotels or private yachts, despite reporting that this practice increased in previous reporting periods. The government reported that, under Fiji’s legal system, the prosecutor’s office acted independently from law enforcement investigations, including in cases involving human trafficking; however, this lack of communication and coordination between police and prosecutors continued to impair the government’s pursuit of trafficking cases. Officials cited inadequate resources for victim and witness support as weakening the success of prosecutions.
The HTU trained police recruits on trafficking; however, observers reported the one-day anti-trafficking trainings were insufficient. Law enforcement officials often were not aware of the definition of trafficking, procedures for interviewing victims, or how to proactively identify victims. The HTU did not complete the SOPs for investigating trafficking cases it began drafting in previous reporting periods. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking crimes; the government did not report taking any action in an investigation, which the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption initiated in February 2021, of an immigration official in a suspected trafficking case.