[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

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

[June 2008]

Tonga is not ranked in the Report this year because available information is not of sufficient quantity or reliability to determine that there is a significant number of trafficking victims in the country. In part due to its small population, Tonga’s trafficking problem may be of small scale. However, unconfirmed and anecdotal reports suggest that trafficking does take place in Tonga.

Scope and Magnitude. There were no confirmed reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country. However, a public health facility identified 14 minors engaged in commercial sexual exploitation during the year and there were other isolated reports of women and underage girls in commercial sexual exploitation. There were reports that members of foreign fishing vessel crews solicited Tongan underage girls for commercial sex. There were unsubstantiated reports of employers holding travel documents or salaries as a means to compel labor and restrain Philippine nationals working in Tonga. There were also unconfirmed reports that some nationals from the People’s Republic of China working legally and illegally in Tonga may have been coerced into prostitution or forced labor.

Government Efforts. While Tongan law does not specifically address trafficking in persons, an antislavery statute could be used to prosecute some trafficking offenders. Section Two of the Constitution prohibits slavery and forced labor. Sections 126 and 127 of the Criminal Offences Act prohibit procurement for commercial sex. Nevertheless, the Tongan government did not investigate reports of trafficking during the year.

Tonga does not have victim care facilities which are accessible to potential trafficking victims. Tonga’s law enforcement and immigration personnel have no formal system to proactively identify potential victims of trafficking among high-risk persons and no victims were identified during the reporting period. There were no government-run anti-trafficking information or education campaigns conducted during the reporting period. The Government of Tonga provided no specialized police training for recognizing and investigating incidents of trafficking during the reporting period. Immigration officials participated in training offered by the New Zealand government that included trafficking in persons issues. Tonga contributed troops to international peacekeeping efforts but reported no allegations or investigations of Tonga Defense Service personnel for allegations of facilitating trafficking in persons or exploiting trafficking victims.