Pohnpei files Human Trafficking and Criminal Exploitation charges against four

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
May 12, 2016
Pohnpei, FSM—What started as an investigation in a larceny case has expanded to Pohnpei State’s first prosecution for Human Trafficking crimes. Two males and two females were arrested. Three of the individuals are Pohnpeian and one is a foreigner. Three of the accused were denied bail and one was released under strict conditions due to a medical problem. The three who were denied bail are currently in jail awaiting trial.
A prosecutor at the Pohnpei State Attorney General’s office says that the State filed two separate Human Trafficking and Criminal Exploitation sets of charges that resulted in the arrests. The State filed the charges in February.
In order to protect the privacy of the victims, Pohnpei’s Criminal Code provides that the names of the victims and the victims’ families never be disclosed including by the defendant(s).
Nothing in Chapter 8A of Pohnpei’s Criminal Code, the law against Human Trafficking and Criminal Exploitation precludes the release of the names of the accused. Still, those names have not been released to the public.
To further protect the victims and to save them from the potential humiliation of having to testify publicly in court, the prosecutor’s office has been taking the testimony of the four alleged victims who have so far come forward on video.
There are several forms of Human Trafficking and Criminal Exploitation, all of them involving the subjugation of a human being to servitude of any kind by coercion. Contrary to popular believe, the crime does not always involve exploitation through forced prostitution but in this case prostitution is involved. Victims of Human Trafficking are not criminally liable “for any commercial sex act or illegal sexually-explicit performance committed as a direct result of, or incident or related to, being trafficked.”
The law allows for 10 years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine but it also allows for harsher sentences if there were more than two victims. The law also provides for financial remuneration by a convicted person to his or her victims. It also allows victims to file civil actions against their captors.
A trial date has not yet been set. The Court still has several pre-trial motions on which to rule.
Police are still investigating whether or not more people were involved