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The Government of Seychelles fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government made key achievements to do so during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Seychelles was upgraded to Tier 1. These achievements included convicting the most traffickers reported in a single year; prosecuting more trafficking cases; increasing funding for victim services; and officially opening and providing services to survivors at the country’s first anti-trafficking shelter. The government increased training for front-line officials and regularly screened vulnerable populations for trafficking indicators, contributing to the most victims identified in a single year. The government provided direct services or referrals to care for all victims identified. The government consulted with survivors and incorporated their input into the draft NAP and other anti-trafficking materials. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not inspect migrant working conditions in the Seychelles International Trade Zone (SITZ), despite continued reports of trafficking indicators; approve the 2022-2025 national action plan (NAP); or adopt pending legislation prohibiting the retention of passports by employers of migrant workers. The lack of interpreters available in the country hindered anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim identification efforts in cases involving foreign nationals. Some reports of low-level official complicity in trafficking crimes persisted.

  • Provide specialized anti-trafficking training to labor inspectors to identify and report potential trafficking crimes to appropriate officials.
  • Conduct routine inspections in the SITZ to monitor migrant working conditions and screen for trafficking indicators.
  • Expand the availability of interpretation services, especially for Bengali and Hindi, available to law enforcement, courts, and victim service providers.
  • Allocate adequate funding and resources for victim services, including to the Trafficking in Persons Fund.
  • Use the victim identification and referral SOPs to systematically and proactively identify trafficking victims, including by screening for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations, such as individuals in commercial sex, migrant workers, workers in the SITZ, and Cuban medical professionals, and refer all trafficking victims to appropriate services.
  • Continue to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, which should involve significant prison terms.
  • Adopt and implement the draft 2022-2025 NAP.
  • Remove the required fee for migrant workers to file a complaint with the Labor Tribunal.
  • Adopt legislation prohibiting the retention of passports by employers of migrant workers.
  • Consistently enforce strong regulations and oversight of labor recruitment companies, including by increasing efforts to identify fraudulent labor recruiters and hold them criminally accountable.

The government increased 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) ($38,850) for crimes involving adult victims, and a maximum of 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to 800,000 SR ($62,160) 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.

The government investigated 10 trafficking cases – one for sex trafficking and nine for labor trafficking – in 2022, compared with 24 investigations in 2021. The government initiated two sex trafficking prosecutions, compared with none in 2021, and reported two labor trafficking prosecutions initiated in previous reporting periods remained ongoing. Courts convicted 14 labor traffickers – the most convictions ever reported in a single year – compared with two convictions in 2021. Courts sentenced all 14 traffickers to 15 years’ imprisonment under the 2014 anti-trafficking law; however, the government deported 11 traffickers, foreign nationals from Iran, prior to serving their sentences. Courts ordered traffickers to pay one victim 500,000 SR ($38,850). The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, some reports of low-level official complicity in trafficking crimes persisted.

The Criminal Investigation Department had three investigators dedicated to trafficking crimes, while the Child Protection Unit was mandated to investigate all crimes against children, including child trafficking. All entry-level police officers received basic training on trafficking crimes at the Seychelles Police Academy. In partnership with international organizations and foreign donors, the government trained law enforcement officials on victim-centered investigation strategies, child-friendly interviewing techniques, victim identification, and financial crimes associated with human trafficking. Despite training efforts, some officials lacked a clear understanding of the difference between human trafficking and other crimes, such as labor exploitation. Observers reported improved coordination and information sharing between police and prosecutors resulted in higher-quality evidence gathering, expedited investigations, and more victim-centered approaches to anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government increasingly utilized plea bargaining in trafficking cases to decrease the length of time to reach case resolution and reduce re-traumatization of victim witnesses; however, the judicial process for cases involving foreign victims and defendants that went to trial continued to be prohibitively long – frequently many years – often due to the lack of interpretation services available. The government reported cooperating with the Government of Mauritius on a child sex trafficking investigation.

The government increased victim protection efforts. The government identified 43 trafficking victims – the most victims ever identified in a single year – compared with four victims identified in 2021. Of the 43 victims identified, traffickers exploited nine in sex trafficking and 34 in labor trafficking. All nine sex trafficking victims were Seychellois girls, and all 34 labor trafficking victims were adult men from Bangladesh and India. The government maintained formal SOPs to guide officials in the proactive identification of victims and subsequent referral to care. The government took significant steps to enhance implementation of the SOPs, adopted in 2021, by distributing copies and training government and NGO stakeholders on them. Despite these efforts, some officials occasionally used ad hoc procedures not included in the national SOPs. The government proactively screened vulnerable populations, such as migrant workers or individuals in commercial sex, for trafficking indicators, including by increasing screening of potential victims transiting through the international airport.

The government provided various services and referrals to care for all 43 identified victims, including medical care, shelter, and repatriation assistance for foreign victims. The National Coordinating Committee against Trafficking in Persons (NCCTIP) reported spending 248,596 SR ($19,315) for victim care in 2022, compared with 148,284 SR ($11,520) in 2021. The country’s first shelter for human trafficking survivors, established in partnership with a religious organization and a local NGO in late 2021, officially opened and provided services to 34 survivors, all foreign national adult males. The government continued to provide alternate accommodation, such as private guesthouses or referrals to NGO-operated shelters for women, children, and Seychellois victims as needed. The 2014 anti-trafficking law allowed the government to place witnesses under protection and, if the court found it necessary, to hold trafficking trials in private to protect witness confidentiality and privacy; the law also ensured witnesses could testify through closed circuit television and courtroom accommodations could be made as needed to support participation. The 2014 anti-trafficking law also allowed for limited legal alternatives to victims’ removal to countries in which they would face hardship; the law permitted the Minister of Home Affairs to allow a foreign victim to remain for 30 days or issue a permit allowing the victim to remain for a set period until the completion of legal proceedings. The government provided two victims of labor trafficking with work permits, enabling them to begin working with a new employer. The anti-trafficking law allowed the government to provide restitution to victims from fines imposed on the accused or from the Trafficking in Persons Fund; however, the government has never allotted resources to the Trafficking in Persons Fund or provided restitution to any victims. The law protected trafficking victims from detention or prosecution for unauthorized entry into Seychelles, but it did not protect victims from prosecution for other unlawful acts committed solely as a direct result of being trafficked. Observers reported immigration officials did not always use the formal SOPs for victim identification, and a lack of interpretation services prohibited adequate screening at transit points; therefore, authorities likely deported some unidentified victims for immigration crimes.

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. NCCTIP met regularly to direct anti-trafficking efforts across government agencies and coordinate national policy; the establishment of an anti-trafficking secretariat in 2021 continued to enhance inter-ministerial coordination of anti-trafficking efforts. The government allocated 1.3 million SR ($101,010) to the secretariat for anti-trafficking activities, including NCCTIP operations, victim assistance, and prevention efforts, compared with 148,281 SR ($11,520) allocated to NCCTIP in the previous reporting period. The government reported its draft 2022-2025 NAP, developed in partnership with an international organization, was pending final approval by the Cabinet of Ministers for the second consecutive reporting period. The government consulted with survivors and incorporated their input into the draft NAP and other anti-trafficking materials. The government held awareness campaigns targeting frontline officials, journalists, and populations vulnerable to trafficking, including migrant workers and individuals from low-income communities. The anti-trafficking secretariat continued to operate a trafficking-specific hotline. The hotline was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide referrals for services; two cases reported to the hotline resulted in an investigation. The Ministry of Employment (MOE) maintained a hotline to report labor trafficking concerns, but it did not report identifying any trafficking victims.

The MOE and the inter-ministerial Special Task Force, which had a mandate to address the living and working conditions of migrant workers, regularly inspected work sites for indications of human trafficking. For the first time in recent years, labor monitoring and compliance officers identified and referred six cases of potential labor trafficking to law enforcement. Despite these efforts, observers reported labor officers in the country did not receive specialized anti-trafficking training, hampering efforts to identify trafficking among vulnerable migrant workers. The MOE continued to lack jurisdiction in the SITZ as it was considered extra-territorial and managed by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the government agency mandated for non-bank financial services; this limited its ability to screen migrant workers for trafficking indicators. The government did not report conducting any labor inspections in the SITZ, despite the FSA no longer requiring special permission to visit businesses in the SITZ. The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported health inspectors visited the SITZ to assess migrant workers’ housing and accommodations. In accordance with the Employment Act, the MOE reviewed all contracts for migrant workers to ensure compliance with its provisions, and the MOH conducted site visits of accommodations; however, these requirements did not apply to the SITZ.

The government did not have effective policies or laws regulating or providing oversight for labor recruiters; however, the government reported investigating fraudulent recruiters. Seizure and retention of passports by employers remained legal under Seychellois law, unless proven it was specifically for the purpose of trafficking crimes. In 2019, the government drafted an amendment to the immigration bill that reportedly would prohibit passport retention of foreign workers; however, the government did not report sending the bill to parliament for the fourth consecutive year. The government continued to utilize the labor tribunal for labor-related complaints and continued to require a fee for migrant workers to file a complaint. During the reporting period, the MOE began allowing migrant workers – who reported situations indicative of labor trafficking to the anti-trafficking secretariat – to obtain new employment following receipt of a written letter from the secretariat. This allowed potential trafficking victims to bypass associated fees with filing a complaint with the labor tribunal and expedite new employment. The government did not report providing anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained a code of ethics for diplomats and provided diplomats with human rights training. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Seychelles, and to a lesser extent, traffickers exploit victims from Seychelles abroad. Traffickers exploit Seychellois girls and boys in child sex trafficking; in some cases, peers and family members exploit children in bars, guest houses, hotels, brothels, private homes, and on the streets. Traffickers fraudulently recruit Seychellois girls from Mahé and Praslin for modeling jobs and exploit them in sex trafficking. Traffickers also exploit Seychellois women with substance use issues or from low-income households in sex trafficking. Increasingly, foreign traffickers, particularly from Iran and often with a local Seychellois accomplice, force Seychellois men with substance use issues to commit criminal offenses, such as distributing or carrying illegal substances across international borders, and commonly use substance addiction to control victims.

More than 15,000 migrant workers – primarily individuals from Bangladesh and India, and to a lesser extent the People’s Republic of China, Kenya, Madagascar, Philippines, and other countries in South Asia – make up approximately 25 percent of the working population in Seychelles and are employed in fishing, farming, construction, security, caregiving, and domestic work; traffickers exploit migrant workers in these sectors. Retail shop owners, primarily from India, often recruit other Indians to travel to Seychelles for work; however, upon their arrival, the business owners force them to work in conditions indicative of labor trafficking. Labor recruitment agents based in Seychelles exploit migrant workers in labor trafficking, often with the assistance of a local Seychellois accomplice. Migrant workers often sign their employment contracts upon arrival in the Seychelles and frequently cannot read the language, which traffickers exploit using fraudulent recruitment tactics. There were reports of employers routinely retaining migrant workers’ passports to prevent them from changing jobs prior to the expiration of their two-year contracts, increasing their vulnerability to labor trafficking. Observers report employers in the SITZ may not allow migrant workers to leave their residential premise outside of working hours, creating further vulnerabilities to trafficking. Previous reports indicate migrant workers aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels in Seychelles’ territorial waters and ports are subject to conditions indicative of labor trafficking, including nonpayment of wages and physical abuse. Cuban medical professionals working in Seychelles may have been forced to work by the Cuban government.

U.S. Department of State

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