Fiji Ranked As ‘Tier Two’ Country In Trafficking In Persons Report

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US State Department notes Fiji is destination for forced prostitution

By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 30, 2015) – Fiji has been identified as a source country for the trafficking of women and children for sex as well as a destination for Asians who are forced into prostitution.

The 2015 United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons report released this week had recommendations for Fiji, which is currently ranked Tier Two in the report.

A Tier Two ranking means countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

The report claimed Fijian women and children were subjected to trafficking abroad or in cities for sexual exploitation or as domestic workers. It further said there were instances where some criminal organisations deceptively recruited women from Asian countries who were then exploited in illegal brothels.

It suggested that our no visa requirement to 132 nations could also be a contributing factor to Fiji being a transit area for human trafficking. A more startling revelation is the alleged involvement of family members, taxidrivers, foreigners, businessmen and foreign fishing vessels crew as participants in the prostitution of Fijian children.

The 2015 report was compiled using information sourced from US embassies, government officials, non governmental organisations and international organisations, news reports, academic studies and research trips to every region. Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said authorities were working to address the issues identified by the report.

"Fijians regard human trafficking as totally abhorrent. We welcome the positive elements of the US report on the steps we have already taken and are progressively working to address the issues that have been identified as requiring further attention," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The report recommended that Fiji continued its efforts to investigate, prosecute trafficking offences and convict and punish traffickers.

It also recommended that additional trainings for law enforcement and immigration officers on victim identification and protection be instituted.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said "the progress we have made thus far underlines the fact that we have zero tolerance for human trafficking and are systematically tackling the issue within the constraints of our available resources".

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