Micronesia

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Report

MICRONESIA, FEDERATED STATES OF: Tier 2

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a source, transit, and, to a limited extent, a 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 and Micronesian women and girls who allegedly engage in prostitution at restaurants frequented by crew members of docked Asian fishing vessels. FSM women are recruited with promises of well-paying jobs in the United States and its territories, but are subsequently forced into prostitution or domestic labor upon arrival. Local authorities claim many sex trafficking cases are unreported due to victims’ fear of embarrassment in FSM’s insular 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.

The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia 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 FSM government continued a prosecution initiated in 2013 involving one alleged Micronesian offender and eight Micronesian victims. It also continued to coordinate efforts across four states to implement the national plan of action. The government did not, however, identify any trafficking victims, despite evidence of trafficking in investigations involving foreign crew on fishing vessels. The government did not initiate new prosecutions against suspected traffickers. It continued to lack a formal system to identify or refer victims to appropriate services. The government did not allocate specific budgetary funding for victim protection and assistance, but provided protection and assistance for eight Chuukese victims identified in a previous reporting period.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA:

Develop and implement procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as people on fishing vessels in FSM or its territorial waters, women and girls in prostitution, and FSM nationals migrating to the United States for work; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish traffickers; develop and implement a victim referral system and establish specialized protective services for trafficking victims; continue to implement the national plan of action; and continue to collaborate with traditional leaders to raise awareness of trafficking and to break away from customary practices that render Micronesians vulnerable to trafficking.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The national anti-trafficking law prohibits all forms of trafficking, and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for adult trafficking, 30 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking, and fines up to $50,000; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. FSM’s four states have laws that implement the national law. Pohnpei state’s law prohibits sex trafficking of children and forced labor of adults, but not sex trafficking of adults; it prescribes penalties for these crimes of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, fines up to $10,000, or both. Chuuk state’s law includes the same prohibitions, but prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for forced labor, 25 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking, fines up to $10,000, or both. Kosrae state’s law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment, fines up to $20,000, or both. Yap state’s law prohibits all form of trafficking and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment, fines up to $1,000,000, or both. Penalties in each of these four states are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses.

The government initiated two new investigations, compared with three in 2013, of suspected trafficking offenses involving more than 50 Indonesian and Vietnamese men serving as the crew of six different boats. Both cases were treated as smuggling cases despite evidence of human trafficking, such as confiscation of crew members’ passports, exploitative working conditions onboard the vessels, and the crew’s severe malnutrition. Three investigations of suspected sex trafficking offenses initiated last year remained pending at the end of the reporting year. One prosecution, a case from 2009 against a Micronesian man for the exploitation of eight Chuukese females, had its first hearing in February 2015; the case remained pending at the end of the reporting period. The government provided $20,852 to the Yap and Kosrae State Police for training on anti-trafficking investigation and reporting procedures. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.

PROTECTION

The government demonstrated inadequate efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. It did not identify any new trafficking victims, even in cases in which elements of forced labor were present, and did not develop or implement a system to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers, women and children in prostitution, or men stranded on boats in the FSM waters or ports. Two cases involving six boats were seen as smuggling cases; however, the government provided food and general medical care to the men found onboard during the investigation and prosecution of the case and coordinated with their respective embassies to repatriate them. The government made no efforts to refer potential trafficking victims to specialized trafficking services or allocate resources to provide such services. The government continued to provide hotel accommodation, food, security, and flights between Chuuk and Pohnpei for the eight Chuukese victims identified in a 2009 trafficking case. The government reported that any identified trafficking victims would have access to limited social services, such as the mental health program at a hospital in Kosrae state and legal assistance provided to victims of general crime through the public defenders offices at the national and state level. FSM officials did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, or incentives to participate in trials. There were no reports of potential trafficking victims being punished for crimes committed as victims of trafficking; however, the government identified no victims.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. As part of the January 22 National Trafficking Day, the government launched a trafficking awareness campaign in all four states. National Trafficking Day activities included remarks by President Mori, other high ranking officials, members of civil society, and students. The government spent $92,500 for its anti-trafficking efforts in 2014, an increase from $75,000 in 2013. The government continued to provide $190,000 for the two migrant resource centers in Pohnpei and Chuuk, where representatives of national and state law enforcement, local churches, and women’s groups received anti-trafficking training. The government did not develop or disseminate campaigns aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts; it met with agents and owners of foreign fishing companies to discuss implications of labor trafficking. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.