FSM now ranked at Tier 2 Watch List, the highest level it has ever attained
June 21, 2012
Federated States of Micronesia—The 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for efforts to curb human trafficking during 2011 was issued by the US State Department yesterday in Washington D.C. The Federated States of Micronesia was returned to the Tier 2 Watch List after a year at the Tier 3 status, the lowest status attainable.
For activities in 2008 and 2009, FSM was on the Tier 2 Watch List. Because FSM was on the Tier 2 Watch List for two years in a row without any improvements or apparent law enforcement efforts to curb Human Trafficking it was demoted on the 2011 report on 2010 activities to Tier 3
The crime of human trafficking has been largely misunderstood in the FSM as being the same as the crime of prostitution but the two are not equivalent. Essentially human trafficking is the crime of forcing a person into what amounts to modern slavery whether or not national borders are crossed. Since a large number of victims of human trafficking are forced into service in the sex industry some in the FSM have assumed that human trafficking is prostitution. It is not. Human trafficking is forcing a person through coercion of any kind to perform services they do not want to perform, including but not at all limited to prostitution. It is involuntary servitude.
In a high profile case last year in Washington State, two citizens of Chuuk were convicted of crimes related to human trafficking after they forced a relative to perform household duties by withholding her passport and other documents. During the short time that the victim worked outside of the home she was required to give up her paycheck. She could not escape and that is involuntary servitude, a crime of human trafficking.
In 2012 FSM acceded to the 2000 United Nations Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Protocol. The FSM Congress also drafted and passed new legislation that revised the country’s criminal code to include anti-trafficking provisions. It also made commitments to fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
The FSM’s new TIP law sets down penalties of 15 to 30 years imprisonment and fines not exceeding $50,000 “which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape,” the report said.
“However, the Government of the FSM did not prosecute any trafficking cases, made no efforts to identify or assist victims of trafficking and failed to make substantive efforts to prevent trafficking or increase the general public’s awareness of trafficking in 2011.”
Song Ja Cha was convicted in Guam for human trafficking violations in February of 2011. She was found guilty of luring young women from Chuuk to work in Guam. The girls were told that they would be working at a store as waitresses at her restaurant. When they got there the girls’ passports were confiscated and a jury determined that they were forced into the sex trade at Cha’s “Blue House” karaoke lounge. Though evidence in the case said that a man in Chuuk had recruited the girls who became victims of human trafficking including his own under age daughter, no charges against the alleged “recruiter” in the human trafficking scheme were ever filed in the FSM.
The U.S. State Department’s report on human trafficking contained recommendations for the FSM to pursue in order to adequately combat the crime of Human Trafficking:
“Publicly recognize and condemn all acts of trafficking; make robust efforts to criminally investigate, prosecute, and punish all trafficking offenders; develop and implement procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as foreign workers in the FSM, fishermen on fishing vessels, women and girls in prostitution, and FSM nationals migrating to the United States for work; establish measures to ensure that victims of trafficking are not threatened or otherwise punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; train officials on human trafficking and how to identify and assist trafficking victims; support and facilitate comprehensive and visible antitrafficking awareness campaigns directed at employers of foreign workers and clients of the sex trade; make efforts to notify foreign workers of their rights, protections, and ways they can report abuse; establish a registration system for overseas employment recruiters as agreed to in the Compact of Free Association as Amended (2004); initiate monitoring mechanisms for recruitment agencies both domestically and abroad; investigate and prosecute recruiters who may be engaged in fraudulent recruitment acts that lead to trafficking in persons; and develop a national plan of action for anti-trafficking matters.”