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 sex trafficking and domestic servitude abroad or in Fijian cities. Women from China, Thailand, Malaysia, and other East Asian countries are deceptively recruited for legitimate jobs 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—and role as a regional transportation hub may contribute to its status as a transit country for human trafficking. Workers from other Asian countries are subjected to forced labor on fishing vessels and transit through Fiji or board fishing vessels from Fiji ports and waters. They live in poor conditions, accrue significant debts, and work for little or no compensation on foreign fishing vessels, mainly Chinese- and Taiwan-flagged, in Pacific waters. South Asian and East Asian men are fraudulently recruited to work in Fiji and find themselves in conditions of forced labor upon arrival.
Family members, taxi drivers, foreign tourists, businessmen, and crew on foreign fishing vessels have allegedly exploited Fijian children in prostitution. 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, where they may be subjected to domestic servitude or coerced to engage in sexual activity in exchange for food, clothing, shelter, or school fees.
The Government of Fiji does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the Fijian government assisted in the repatriation of two Fijian trafficking victims and acquired a new safe house. Authorities began investigation of five trafficking cases involving four suspects, but did not bring any of those cases to prosecution. The government did not 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 exploited children; enhance efforts to provide access to interpretation services and legal, medical, and psychological assistance to victims; make efforts to allow identified trafficking victims to work and earn income while assisting with investigations; increase dissemination of anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at clients of child and adult prostitution; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The government made limited 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 ($47,059), are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not prosecute or convict any suspected traffickers in 2015. The police anti-trafficking unit began investigation of five cases, an increase from two cases investigated in 2014, which remain under investigation. Two of these cases from 2015 involved forced labor of male foreign nationals and three involved sex trafficking of Fijian women and children. The government continued to fund anti-trafficking in persons training for new police recruits. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government increased efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The police anti-trafficking unit identified 13 potential trafficking victims, an increase from zero victims identified in 2014 and three in 2013; and officials provided modest assistance to at least nine victims during the year. 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 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 apportioned funds to cover the operational costs of a new safe house for human trafficking victims, asylum seekers, and migrants awaiting deportation. Trafficking victims were eligible to apply for government legal aid and receive basic medical care. The government made available accommodation, medical care, interpreters, allowances for basic necessities, 24-hour police security, and temporary visas to foreign victims of trafficking; seven foreign trafficking victims used government facilities for these services during the reporting period. 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 provided financial and repatriation assistance to two Fijian trafficking victims in a third country. The government did not protect unidentified victims from punishment as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking, such as women and children in prostitution or undocumented workers.
The government sustained efforts to prevent trafficking. The police anti-trafficking unit continued public awareness campaigns aimed at children and parents. The 2007 Employment Relations Promulgation gives the permanent secretary of labor the authority to fine or imprison employment agencies operating without authorization; however, the government did not make efforts to punish labor brokers involved in fraudulent recruitment offers despite known cases of such activity. 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 to its diplomatic personnel. Fiji is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.