[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

Fiji (TIER 3)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Fiji is a source country for children trafficked for the purposes of labor and commercial sexual exploitation, and a destination country for women from the People’s Republic of China, Thailand, , and India trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. Some women from the P.R.C. and India who migrate voluntarily to Fiji for work have been in the past and may still be coerced into forced labor in sweatshops. Fijian boys and girls are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation by family members, other Fijian citizens, foreign tourists, and sailors on foreign fishing vessels. Staff at local hotels procure underage girls for commercial sexual exploitation by guests, while taxi drivers, nightclub staff, and relatives frequently act as facilitators. Some Fijian children are informally adopted - sent to live with and work for relatives or families living in or near schools – a tradition of child placement that sometimes leaves the child in an internal labor or sex trafficking situation.

The Government of Fiji does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and it is not making significant efforts to do so. Despite consistent and, reliable reports from NGOs, international organizations, foreign governments, and individuals about trafficking in Fiji, especially the wide-spread exploitation of children in the commercial sex trade, the government has demonstrated no action to investigate or prosecute traffickers, assist victims, or participate in public awareness campaigns to prevent trafficking.

Recommendations for Fiji: Develop a national action plan for combating trafficking in persons; collaborate with civil society and international organizations to combat the sex trafficking of children and train law enforcement officers on victim identification and protection; significantly improve the record of prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing of trafficking offenders; develop and institute a formal procedure to proactively identify victims of trafficking, especially among vulnerable groups such as homeless children and women or children found in prostitution; implement and support a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of children in commercial sexual exploitation; and expand cooperation with international law enforcement entities to identify and prosecute Fijian residents, foreign visitors, and travel service providers involved in child sex trafficking and tourism.

The Government of Fiji demonstrated no significant efforts to combat trafficking in persons during the year. The government is limited in its ability to focus on combating trafficking in persons by an ongoing political and economic crisis; funding for police, immigration, and other institutions is generally inadequate. Fiji prohibits transnational sex and labor trafficking through its Immigration Act of 2003, which prescribes punishments that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. The Government of Fiji reported no arrests, prosecutions, or convictions of trafficking offenders during the reporting period. The Immigration Directorate handed a fully-investigated case with elements of trafficking to the police for prosecution early in 2008. The police, however, did not advance the case to the prosecutor, and Immigration eventually deported the two suspected traffickers involved due to lack of detention funding. A Combined Law Agencies Group (CLAG) meets monthly to address law enforcement issues, including trafficking in persons. There is no evidence of government officials’ complicity in trafficking.

The Government of Fiji did not demonstrate any significant efforts to protect victims of trafficking over the last year. The Government of Fiji’s law enforcement, immigration, and social service personnel had no formal system to proactively identify victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contact, and the government did not identify any trafficking victims during the year. The government has not developed or implemented a process to refer identified victims to institutions that could provide short- or long-term care. Due to severe resource constraints, the government relied on NGOs or international organizations to provide protective services to victims. One NGO sheltered a number of female trafficking victims and their children throughout the year. The Government of Fiji did not actively encourage victim participation in the investigation of traffickers or sex tourists. The Fijian anti-trafficking law includes provisions to ensure that victims of trafficking are not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.

The Government of Fiji demonstrated no meaningful efforts to raise awareness about trafficking during the year. There were no visible measures undertaken by the government to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts and the government did not support any anti-trafficking information or education campaigns during the reporting period. Fijian laws, including those pertaining to trafficking in persons and sexual assault, apply to Fijians deployed abroad as part of peacekeeping missions. The Republic of Fiji Military Forces provided anti-trafficking training for soldiers in advance of their being deployed abroad on international peacekeeping missions. Fiji has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.