The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore FSM remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by convicting two traffickers, increasing anti-trafficking training among judicial officials and students, and establishing and staffing a national hotline. Despite these efforts, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Courts issued weak sentences to convicted traffickers and authorities did not follow an established procedure to identify victims among vulnerable populations or refer them to protective services, which remained undeveloped and under-resourced.


Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, and sentence them to penalties proportionate to the seriousness of the crime; amend anti-trafficking legislation to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment; develop and implement procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; develop and implement a victim referral system and establish and allocate funding for specialized protective services for trafficking victims; strengthen efforts to implement the National Action Plan (NAP), including through establishment of state-level anti-trafficking task forces in all four states, staffing a governmental anti-trafficking secretariat; and strengthen efforts to conduct anti-trafficking awareness campaigns targeted to government and law enforcement officials, traditional leaders, health care professionals, and the public.


The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The national anti-trafficking law criminalized sex and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000-$25,000, or both for offenses involving adult victims and up to 30 years imprisonment, a fine of between $5,000-$50,000, or both for offenses involving child victims. These penalties were sufficiently stringent, but by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking crimes, these penalties were not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. Each of Micronesia's four states had its own laws which criminalized trafficking offenses; however, Pohnpei and Chuuk States did not explicitly prohibit adult sex trafficking. Cases prosecuted at the state level may be heard subsequently at the national level, under national anti-trafficking law, depending on which court hears a case.

In 2017, the government reported investigating eight alleged trafficking cases, the same number of cases investigated in 2016. Of these investigations, one case led to a prosecution with two convictions, compared to one conviction in 2017. The government reported another alleged trafficking case was awaiting a trial date and a third case was still under investigation. They did not report the status of the other five alleged trafficking cases or the outcome of two cases reported as pending last year.

In the case with two convictions, one offender was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and sentenced to be in prison from Saturday night until Monday morning and confined to his workplace or home on the weekdays for a 15 month period. The other offender, the parent of the sexually trafficked child, received probation for 15 months with no fine.

In partnership with an international organization, the government conducted anti-trafficking training for a total of 735 participants: 75 judicial officials, 110 college students, and 550 high school students and teachers at venues provided by local governments. Authorities did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.


The government maintained inadequate efforts to protect victims. Law enforcement, health care, and labor inspection entities did not implement standard procedures required in the NAP to proactively identify trafficking victims. The government reported protecting three victims involved in prosecution cases, two of whom received limited services during the reporting period. The government reported establishing and staffing a national hotline but did not receive any calls during the reporting period. The government had no formal referral system for trafficking victims but continued to work with state governments on the development of a directory listing churches, NGOs, and local government bodies which may be able to provide limited additional protective services to trafficking victims. However, the government did not report if any trafficking victims benefited from any of these services. Authorities did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, nor did it provide incentives for victims to participate in trials. The government did not report any victim involvement in law enforcement or requests for victim restitution during the reporting period. Although there were no reports of victims punished for crimes committed as a direct result of having been subjected to trafficking, some potential victims may have been detained due to a lack of formal victim identification procedures.


The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. The national government's anti-trafficking office and the supreme court reported collaboration with state task forces and an international organization on developing awareness campaigns targeting law enforcement, immigration and customs officers, political leaders, churches, women's and youth groups, and students which reached over 500 participants. The government reported the creation and dissemination of posters to 100 participants in summit and council meetings. Three of the four FSM states had state action plans linked to the NAP, which guided state level anti-trafficking task forces operating under state action plans. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government did not report any efforts to monitor foreign labor recruitment or preparation of Micronesian women and girls leaving to work in other countries. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.


As reported over the past five years, the Federated States of Micronesia is a source, transit and, to a lesser extent, destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The groups most vulnerable to trafficking in FSM include foreign migrant workers, especially from the Philippines, and Micronesian women in prostitution. Women and girls are allegedly exploited in sex trafficking by the crewmembers of docked Asian fishing vessels, on vessels in FSM territorial waters, or with foreign construction workers. FSM women recruited with promises of well-paying jobs in the United States and its territories are subsequently forced into prostitution or domestic labor upon arrival. Local authorities claim many sex trafficking cases are unreported due to social stigma and victims' fear of possible repercussions in their home communities. Foreign migrants from Southeast Asian countries report working in conditions indicative of human trafficking on Asian fishing vessels in FSM or its territorial waters.


This 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.