U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - East Timor

East Timor (Tier 2)

East Timor is a destination country for women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims in East Timor are women from Thailand, Indonesia, and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) who had been trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.

The Government of East Timor does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government shows the political will to address the problem but lacks the resources to combat trafficking effectively. While the East Timorese Government actively engages with NGOs and regional and international bodies, it continues to have difficulty distinguishing trafficking victims from illegal migrants. Government action should concentrate on adopting a strong and comprehensive anti-trafficking law, arresting and prosecuting traffickers, and improving victim protection measures. The government and the United Nations should also continue to address credible reports that UN peacekeepers are clients of brothels that have trafficked women.


The Government of East Timor's law enforcement efforts against trafficking were modest during the reporting period. The government has not developed the capacity to compile full information on trafficking-related arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. East Timorese authorities conducted sporadic investigations and raids but did not prosecute any trafficking-related cases over the last year. The Immigration and Asylum Act of 2003 criminalizes trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and for non-sexual purposes but penalties are less severe than penalties for rape and forcible sexual assault. The Ministry of Justice is finalizing a new penal code that will criminalize the activities of pimps and brothel owners/operators. There is a lack of coordination between prosecutors and the police, and law enforcement officials generally lack training.


Due to a lack of resources, the East Timorese Government provided only sporadic protection and assistance to trafficking victims during the reporting period. Some trafficking victims were repatriated with the help of the government, their embassies, and international organizations. While the government assisted a few victims in finding shelter and protection from NGOs it appears that some victims may have been charged and deported for prostitution and/or immigration violations. The government did not fund foreign and domestic NGOs that provided shelter and access to services for victims.


There have been no anti-trafficking campaigns conducted in East Timor, in part because East Timor has not been a country of origin for trafficking victims. While the government continued to recognize that trafficking is a problem, it did not place a priority on trafficking prevention programs. The government has been considering a national action plan.


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