FIJI: Tier 2
Fiji is a source country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor and a transit and destination country for Asian men and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Fijian women and children are subjected to trafficking abroad or in cities for sexual exploitation or as domestic workers. Women from China, Thailand, Malaysia, and other East Asian countries are deceptively recruited in their home countries or while visiting Fiji, sometimes by Chinese criminal organizations. These women reportedly are exploited in illegal brothels (posing as massage parlors and spas), local hotels, private homes, small and informal farms and factories, and other rural and urban locations. Fiji’s liberal visa requirements—which allow nationals of 132 nations to enter the country without acquiring a visa—coupled with Fiji’s role as a regional transportation hub, may contribute to Fiji being a transit area for human trafficking. Workers from Cambodia, the Philippines, Burma, Indonesia, North Korea, China, Singapore, and other Asian countries are deceptively recruited in their home countries and transit through Fiji or board fishing vessels from Fijian ports and waters. They live in poor living conditions, accrue debt larger than promised wages, and work for little or no compensation on foreign fishing vessels, mainly Chinese and Taiwanese, in Pacific waters.
Family members, taxi drivers, foreign tourists, businessmen, and crew on foreign fishing vessels have been alleged to participate in the prostitution of Fijian children. Some Fijian children are at risk of human trafficking as families follow a traditional practice of sending them to live with relatives or families in larger cities; these children may be subjected to domestic servitude or coerced to engage in sexual activity in exchange for food, clothing, shelter, or school fees. Fijian children may also be subjected to forced labor in agriculture, begging, and industrial sectors.
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. During the reporting period, the Fijian government convicted two men in the country’s first domestic trafficking case. Authorities, however, continually failed to implement formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations; some potential victims may have been deported as law violators.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FIJI:
Continue efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish traffickers; institute additional trainings for law enforcement and immigration officers on victim identification and protection; develop and strengthen formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims, especially among vulnerable groups, such as foreign migrant workers on fishing vessels, those allegedly involved in prostitution, and children exploited by local citizens; enhance efforts to provide access to legal, medical, and psychological assistance to victims; make efforts to allow identified trafficking victims to work and earn income while assisting with investigations; disseminate more anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at individuals purchasing commercial sex; and accede to the 2000 UN Protocol.
The government decreased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2009 Crimes Decree includes provisions that prohibit all forms of trafficking. The prescribed penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment, and possible fines of up to 100,000 Fijian dollars ($49,100), are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The police anti-trafficking unit investigated two cases, a decline from seven investigations in 2013. The government prosecuted and convicted two traffickers in a 2012 case involving three child victims of domestic sex trafficking. The traffickers were sentenced to 16 and 12 years’ imprisonment. Despite Fiji’s first two domestic sex trafficking convictions, the government investigated fewer cases and did not initiate any prosecutions. The government continued to fund the Police Human Trafficking Unit’s training workshops. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government decreased efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The police anti-trafficking unit did not report identifying any victims, a decline from three in 2013 and six in 2012, continuing a decreasing trend in victim identification. Immigration officials and police reported using guidelines to identify potential trafficking victims, including at the border; however, authorities did not proactively identify victims of trafficking among other vulnerable populations, such as women and girls in prostitution, foreign workers in spas, and crew members who transit through Fiji onboard vessels in Fiji ports. Instead, some potential trafficking victims may have been deported as law violators. The government continued to deport foreign women in prostitution without screening them for vulnerability to trafficking.
The government continued to rely on NGOs and international organizations to supply long-term care facilities and specialized services for trafficking victims; the government did not allocate or provide funding to shelters for trafficking victims in 2014. Trafficking victims were eligible to apply for government legal aid and receive basic medical care, but no victims applied for this provision during the reporting period. The government made available accommodations, medical care, interpreters, allowances for basic necessities, 24-hour police security, and temporary visas to foreign victims of trafficking; no trafficking victim reported benefitting from these provisions. The government did not offer permanent residency status for foreign victims, including those who participated in criminal trials. Victims had the right to file for civil remedies, but no victims applied for these measures.
The government sustained efforts to prevent trafficking. The police anti-trafficking unit continued a poster campaign to raise public awareness of trafficking and published press releases and advertisements in Mandarin, Hindi, and Thai to publicize available government assistance for potential victims. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, forced labor, or child sex tourism. The government provided anti-trafficking training as a component of human rights training given to Fijian military personnel prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel. Fiji is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.