2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Fiji
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||19 June 2012|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Fiji, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30ccb2.html [accessed 10 July 2014]|
FIJI (Tier 2)
Fiji is a source country for children subjected to internal sex trafficking and forced labor, and a destination country for foreign men and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Fiji's role as a regional transportation hub makes it a potential transit area for human trafficking. Victims in Fiji are allegedly exploited in illegal brothels, local hotels, private homes, and other rural and urban locations. Victims primarily are recruited in their home countries or deceptively recruited while visiting Fiji. Family members, other Fijian citizens, foreign tourists, and sailors on foreign fishing vessels have been alleged to participate in the prostitution of Fijian children. Fiji's liberal visa requirements allow many foreign nationals to travel to Fiji without first acquiring a valid visa. Some Fijian children are at risk of human trafficking if their families follow a traditional practice of sending them to live with relatives or families in larger cities or close proximity to schools. These children may be subjected to domestic servitude or may be 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 greater efforts to acknowledge publicly and address human trafficking, particularly through increased law enforcement trainings, governmental involvement in public awareness campaigns, and expanded victim protection services. Despite its limited resources, the Fijian government provided a range of victim protection services throughout the reporting period. Nevertheless, the government made insufficient progress in combating the serious problem of sex trafficking, including of children, within the country. Authorities did not widely implement formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations during the year.
Recommendations for Fiji: Continue efforts to identify, prosecute, convict, and sentence trafficking offenders under the provisions of the Crimes Decree; increase anti-trafficking cooperation between the Department of Immigration, the police Human Trafficking Unit, the police Transnational Crimes Unit, and other relevant government bodies; institute more trainings for law enforcement and immigration officers on victim identification and protection; continue efforts to finalize the database on child labor statistics and increase efforts to identify, protect, and assist child trafficking victims; develop and strengthen formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking, especially among vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers, those allegedly involved in prostitution, and children exploited by local citizens; enhance 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 with investigations; develop a specialized care unit for identified victims of trafficking; and disseminate more anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at clients of child prostitution, commercial sex, and sex tourism.
The Government of Fiji increased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. The government's 2009 Crimes Decree includes comprehensive anti-trafficking provisions for both domestic and international cases. The prescribed penalties of up to 25 years' imprisonment, and possible fines of up to $400,000, are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In July 2010, the government established a dedicated anti-trafficking police unit, which it staffed during the reporting period with four permanent detectives dedicated exclusively to human trafficking. The unit works closely with the Department of Immigration, which heads the government's interagency task force on human trafficking, and the police Transnational Crime Unit. As a result, the government investigated 11 cases, of which two were prosecuted during the current reporting period – a significant increase from the lack of any cases prosecuted during the previous year. During the current reporting year, the government funded the Police Human Trafficking Unit's training workshops to train the police personnel at many police stations on how to detect and investigate human trafficking related cases. The Fijian government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of public officials or of peacekeepers complicit in human trafficking.
The Government of Fiji made modest efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. Victim identification efforts were sustained, as four adult foreign national victims of forced labor and debt bondage were identified, in addition to one minor domestic victim of sexual exploitation. During the current reporting period, the government provided four Chinese victims with care and coordination in their repatriation. Authorities also provided one underage victim with medical and psychological care, accommodation, and security. The government continues to rely on NGOs and international organizations to supply long-term care facilities and specialized services for trafficking victims. The Fijian government did not penalize trafficking victims for unlawful acts they may have committed while being trafficked. Nevertheless, the government did not offer any trafficking victim long-term shelter or rehabilitation, permanent residency status, or proactively pursue financial restitution for victims before criminal trials were completed. The government has a policy of not punishing trafficking victims detained by police, but rather referring them to the anti-trafficking unit for assistance; however, there was no firm evidence of this policy's wide implementation. While authorities sustained efforts to identify and prosecute trafficking cases, victim screening and identification efforts were minimal. During the year, the Immigration Department and the Police Human Trafficking Unit developed guidelines for identifying potential trafficking victims, and standard operating procedures related to victim identification were put in place with immigration agents at borders. Budgetary allotments were not specifically allocated for trafficking-related cases. 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, illegal brothels in operation, and child labor situations.
Fijian authorities increased efforts to raise public awareness about human trafficking. The government worked with the media to provide press releases on its anti-trafficking efforts, and the Police Human Trafficking Unit's two public awareness campaigns reached approximately 1,500 people. In addition, the police conducted outreach on trafficking issues at the Police Awareness Centre during the annual Hibiscus Festival, through which approximately 20,000 Fijians were reached during this annual celebration in Suva. The government also sustained a partnership with an NGO to raise awareness, through a poster campaign, at police stations, airports, and other locations. However, the government did not make efforts to reduce specifically the demand for commercial sex. The Fijian government provided anti-trafficking training as a component of human rights training to military personnel prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. Fiji is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.