Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Fiji

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Fiji, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee7ec.html [accessed 19 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Fiji (Tier 2)

Fiji is a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking within the country, and a destination country for foreign men and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Family members, other Fijian citizens, foreign tourists, and sailors on foreign fishing vessels participate in the prostitution of Fijian children. Staff at small local hotels procure underage girls and boys for commercial sexual exploitation by foreign guests, while taxi drivers, nightclub employees, and relatives frequently act as prostitution facilitators. NGOs report caring for child victims of prostitution who claim facilitators took them to private boats anchored offshore near Fiji where they were sexually abused or raped by foreign adult men. Reports indicate that some transnational traffickers are members of Chinese organized crime groups that recruit women from China and arrange for them to enter Fiji on tourist or student visas. After their arrival, brothel owners confiscate their passports and force the women to engage in prostitution. Some Fijian children, whose families follow a traditional practice of sending children to live with and do light work for relatives or families living in cities or near schools, become trafficking victims. These children are subjected to domestic servitude or are coerced to engage in sexual activity in exchange for food, clothing, shelter, or school fees.

The Government of Fiji does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Over the past year, the Fijian government demonstrated increased efforts to address human trafficking, particularly through law enforcement and victim protection means. In July 2010, the Fiji Police established a dedicated anti-trafficking police unit. Authorities drafted and approved a government-wide National Action Plan to combat trafficking. In November 2010, the Fijian government convicted one individual and sentenced him to six years' imprisonment for fraudulently recruiting seven Indian nationals for agricultural jobs in New Zealand, but instead taking them to Fiji, where they were identified by immigration officials as potential trafficking victims. Authorities provided shelter for the seven Indian men while they assisted in the investigation and prosecution, and also provided them transportation home. Nevertheless, the government has never prosecuted a case involving the internal sex trafficking of women or children in Fiji, which remains a serious problem. Authorities did not make efforts to develop formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking during the year.

Recommendations for Fiji: Increase efforts to prosecute, convict, and sentence trafficking offenders under the provisions of the new Crimes Decree, in particular for internal trafficking, sex trafficking, and child trafficking, which continue to be pervasive in Fiji; increase training for law enforcement officers on victim identification and protection; make greater efforts to combat the sex trafficking of children, including through the identification of and assistance to child trafficking victims and the prosecution of their traffickers; develop and institute a formal procedure to proactively identify victims of trafficking, especially among vulnerable groups, such as prostituted or homeless children and women; make efforts to provide access to legal, medical, and psychological assistance to victims of trafficking; make efforts to allow identified trafficking victims to work and earn income while assisting in investigations; implement a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of child prostitution; and make robust efforts to identify and prosecute Fijian residents, foreign visitors, and travel industry personnel involved in child sex trafficking and child sex tourism.

Prosecution

The Government of Fiji increased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. The government's 2010 Crimes Decree includes comprehensive anti-trafficking provisions that filled anti-trafficking gaps in the Immigration Act of 2003, which prohibited transnational human trafficking. The prescribed penalties of up to 25 years' imprisonment and in some cases fines of over $400,000 under the new Crimes Decree are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In November 2010, the government convicted one Indian national for fraudulently recruiting and taking fees from seven Indian nationals for agricultural jobs in New Zealand, but instead took the men to Fiji. Upon their arrival in Fiji, they were identified by immigration officials as potential trafficking victims. The offender was sentenced to six years' imprisonment. In July 2010, the government established a dedicated anti-trafficking police unit. Nevertheless, the government did not report investigating or prosecuting any other trafficking cases during the year. The government has never prosecuted or convicted perpetrators of internal trafficking, sex trafficking, or child trafficking – forms of trafficking that are pervasive in Fiji. Many government agencies and offices that should be addressing trafficking issues lack awareness about trafficking. During the year, the government partnered with an NGO and a foreign donor to train officials on human trafficking. The Fijian government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of public officials complicit in human trafficking.

Protection

The Government of Fiji made some efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government did not provide, directly or indirectly, any victim care facilities specifically for trafficking victims, and continued to rely on NGOs and international organizations to provide most protective services to victims. Authorities operated a safe house for victims of crime, which was used during the year to assist the seven Indian nationals involved in the government's one trafficking prosecution. The seven individuals were provided temporary visas to remain in Fiji while they assisted the government in a criminal investigation and prosecution, but were not offered work visas. Authorities assisted with transportation to their home country after the conclusion of the trial. The government did not offer any trafficking victim long-term shelter, extended stay or permanent residency status, any other long-term rehabilitation or assistance, or assistance in obtaining any form of financial restitution. Additionally, the government did not provide trafficking victims with access to legal, medical, or psychological services. Although the Department of Public Prosecution has a policy that all trafficking victims arrested by police should be transferred to the anti-trafficking unit to receive assistance and all charges directly related to their trafficking should be dropped, this policy was not consistently implemented, and there has been at least one instance where trafficking victims were temporarily detained in prison by authorities. While authorities increased efforts to identify trafficking cases, victim screening and identification remained inadequate. In February 2010, the government arrested and deported seven Chinese women for prostitution offenses without investigating whether they may have been victims of trafficking. NGOs report identifying and assisting 16 Fijian female trafficking victims during the year, none of whom were identified or assisted by authorities. There is currently no systematic approach to victim identification. The government did not develop or utilize formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations with which they come in contact, such as women and girls in prostitution.

Prevention

The Government of Fiji made limited trafficking prevention efforts during the year, including efforts to raise public awareness about human trafficking. The government drafted and released a national action plan to eradicate trafficking in persons in February 2011. Authorities did not conduct any anti-trafficking information or education campaigns during the reporting period, but worked with the media to raise awareness of trafficking. The government sustained a partnership with an NGO to raise awareness of trafficking through a poster campaign at police stations, airports, and other locations. The government did not make efforts to address the demand for commercial sex acts, such as a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of children in commercial sexual exploitation. The Fijian government provides anti-trafficking training to its military forces prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. Fiji is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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