Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: More than 20 million people today are trapped in human trafficking, which is a form of modern slavery. It is a crime that happens almost everywhere and affects virtually everyone. Yet many still think of human trafficking as an issue affecting only other people, in other countries. This just isn’t the case. Human trafficking persists around the world, including the Solomon Islands and the United States.
The United States issues annual reports on human trafficking issues around the world. The 2016 U.S. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, recently released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, highlights this problem and the actions governments, businesses, and consumers can take to combat human trafficking. Solomon Islands was ranked Tier 2 Watch list for the fourth year in a row. While ineligible for another extension, they are making an effort to move up to Tier 2 (off the Watch List), before risking being moved down to a Tier 3 ranking in 2016. According to the report, due to passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, Solomon Islands was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has devoted sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards.
Like the United States, Solomon Islands is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Foreign and local women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced begging, and street vending, and foreign and local men are subjected to forced labor.
According to the report, the Solomon Islands government has made modest effort to protect trafficking victims. In December 2015, the government finalized and published guidelines on the identification, referral, and treatment of transnational trafficking victims, although no such procedures existed for internal victims.
The report recommends that the Solomon Islands investigate and prosecute both sex and labor trafficking offenses, and convict and punish traffickers; amend relevant laws to criminally prohibit all forms of human trafficking and to give prosecutors more authority and restrict judges’ ability to offer fines in lieu of prison time. The report further recommends that the Solomon Islands continue to increase efforts to identify trafficking victims among foreign workers, including those in the fishing, logging, and mining industries, and adopt and implement proactive procedures to identify victims of sex trafficking and internal trafficking. Finally, the report recommends the nation increase government support for victim services, including through the allocation of funding, institute a campaign to raise public awareness of human trafficking; provide training for immigration officials, law enforcement officers, and social service providers, including at the provincial level, implement the draft national action plan for combating trafficking in persons; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The entire TIP Report is available on-line at http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2016/index.htm