Increased Efforts Needed in Papua New Guinea to Combat Human Trafficking (October 24, 2016)

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 in Papua New Guinea (PNG) 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.  PNG was ranked Tier 3 in this year’s report, a downgrade from its Tier 2 – Watch list ranking in 2015. This downgrade recognizes that much more work remains to be done despite the efforts that the government of PNG has made in combatting human trafficking.

Like the United States, PNG 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 in logging and mining camps. An estimated 19 percent of the country’s labor market is comprised of child workers – some of whom are subjected to forced labor or child prostitution. Non-government organization (NGO) sources indicate children in prostitution increased by 30 percent in 2013.

According to the report, the Government of PNG does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government did not prosecute any trafficking offenses or convict any traffickers; nor did it provide financial or in-kind support for any protective services. The national action plan to combat trafficking, drafted during the previous reporting period, was not approved or implemented. The U.S. Embassy encourages the PNG government to implement a formal victim identification procedure or an appropriate referral mechanism.

The TIP report calls for the continued training of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges on the crime of human trafficking. Such training can help with the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenses and punish traffickers, including parents and officials who facilitate or directly benefit from trafficking. In addition to human trafficking training programs, law enforcement officers must proactively identify victims and refer them to protective services. Also necessary is the development and implementation of procedures to ensure that victims of trafficking are not arrested, deported, or otherwise punished for acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.

The report encourages the PNG government to allocate sufficient resources to the National Human Trafficking Committee for anti-trafficking awareness campaigns and trainings and to work with local NGOs and international organizations to increase protective services to victims of trafficking. By increasing collaboration with civil society, private sector, religious, and tribal leaders to raise awareness of and reduce demand for forced labor and commercial sex acts, especially of children, we can prevent human trafficking.

Governments must continue to combat human trafficking in all its forms, the TIP report claimed, through strong law enforcement efforts and effective victim protections, as well as with policies to prevent trafficking, including in their own supply chains.  A government can lead by example. It can set high standards and clear expectations for the private sector, and adopt policies that strengthen protections against modern slavery in supply chains. When governments improve efforts to monitor their own purchasing practices, they drive change in the global marketplace.

The report also encouraged the private sector to lead by example on this issue. Businesses can create anti-trafficking policies and map their supply chains down to the level of raw materials to identify gaps in transparency and vulnerabilities; address the trafficking-related risks in their operations; and balance growth with anti-trafficking efforts so the freedom, well-being, and dignity of workers throughout the supply chain is not sacrificed for higher profits.

Ensuring supply chains are free from human trafficking will take increased attention, resources, and collaboration between governments, the private sector, and individual consumers. By working together and leveraging the strengths of different actors, the global market can become a place where innovation and growth thrive alongside a workforce free from modern slavery.

The entire TIP Report is available on-line at

For further information, or to report a suspected case of human trafficking in PNG, please call the ‘Stop Human Trafficking’ toll-free hotline on +675 7100 7777.