[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

KIRIBATI (not rated)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2008]

June 2008

Kiribati remains a special case for a second consecutive year, as information suggests there is a small scale trafficking in persons problem in Kiribati; however, reliable statistical data from either the government or civil society remains lacking.

Scope and Magnitude. During the last year, international organizations and NGOs expressed concerns that internal trafficking of underage girls for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation by crews of foreign and local fishing vessels takes place occasionally in Kiribati. It is reported that approximately 17 girls were involved in commercial sexual exploitation in South Tarawa and Christmas Island. There is anecdotal evidence that a few third parties, sometimes including family members, facilitated commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Crews from Taiwanese and South Korean fishing vessels reportedly exploited underage girls on board for commercial sexual exploitation.

Government Efforts. The Government of Kiribati made limited efforts to combat human trafficking during the reporting period. Kiribati’s 2005 comprehensive legislation criminalizes all forms of trafficking, and trafficking in children in particular, making these offenses for which it prescribes punishments of 14 to 20 years’ imprisonment. The 2005 law also provides protection and rights for victims of trafficking. An inter-agency transnational crime task force made up of law enforcement officials from police, Attorney General’s office, and the immigration, customs, and finance ministries meets monthly and includes trafficking in persons as one of its responsibilities. The Government of Kiribati did not prosecute any cases against human trafficking offenses during the reporting period.

The Government of Kiribati has a limited capacity to protect victims of trafficking and relies on civil society and international organizations to provide most victim services. The government’s law enforcement and social services personnel do not have a formal system of proactively identifying victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contact; they identified no victims during the reporting period. Kiribati has not developed or implemented a referral process to transfer victims detained, arrested, or placed in protective custody by law enforcement authorities to institutions that provide short or long-term care. Kiribati does not have victim care facilities that are accessible to trafficking victims. The government does not have any formal arrangements or mechanisms in place to provide trafficking victims with access to legal, medical, or psychological services. Government officials acknowledged in its Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that commercial exploitation of children continues to be a problem in Kiribati. Kiribati government officials are involved in an active outreach and education program on commercial sexual exploitation of children, led and funded by UNICEF. The government did not provide any specialized training for government or law enforcement officials on how to recognize, investigate, and prosecute instances of trafficking. However, the government participated in awareness-raising activities, in conjunction with NGOs, on commercial sexual exploitation of children during the reporting period. The Government of Kiribati took no action to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.