FSM making progress on anti- Human Trafficking efforts but more needed according to US State Department

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

July 4, 2018

Federated States of Micronesia—For the fifth year in a row, the United States Department of State has ranked the FSM at Tier 2 in their Trafficking in Person report.  The report evaluates the efforts of countries worldwide to eliminate human trafficking.  Human trafficking is the exploitation of people through coercion and does not necessarily involve the movement of a person from one place to another.  It is involuntary servitude.

The Tier 2 evaluation means that the FSM does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.  The report said that the government demonstrated increasing effort by convicting two traffickers, increasing anti-trafficking training among judicial officials and students, and establishing and staffing a national hotline.

“Despite these efforts, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  Courts issued weak sentences to convicted traffickers and authorities did not follow an established procedure to identify victims among vulnerable populations or refer them to protective services, which remained undeveloped and under-resourced,” the report said.

The report recommended that FSM should consider eliminating provisions in its human trafficking laws that allow for fines in lieu of imprisonment.  It pointed out that in the one prosecution of two human traffickers, one was sentenced to a $5000 fine and only weekend jail time.  That convicted felon didn’t even serve his entire sentence and was allowed by the court to leave the country when his work contract expired. The other trafficker, the parent of the victim received probation for 15 months with no fine.  The report said that the prescribed penalties for human trafficking are sufficiently stringent with possible jail terms of up to 30 years, but by allowing for a fine or other greatly decreased sentence, the value of deterrence is greatly diminished.

The FSM continues to prosecute human trafficking cases.  In early August, four men in Chuuk who were convicted of Human Trafficking are set to be sentenced in the FSM Supreme Court for their crimes.  It remains to be seen and will be up to the court whether the men will receive sentences that are more in line with the apparent deterrent intent of the law than previous sentences that were handed down.

The report also made recommendations for protection of Human Trafficking victims and for prevention of the crime.

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