An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
2017-2021 ARCHIVED CONTENT

You are viewing ARCHIVED CONTENT released online from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021.

Content in this archive site is NOT UPDATED, and links may not function.

For current information, go to www.state.gov.

MICRONESIA, FEDERATED STATES OF: Tier 2

The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore FSM remained on Tier 2. These efforts included prosecuting and convicting more traffickers and sentencing them to penalties proportionate to the seriousness of the crime. Judges also ordered the traffickers to pay victim restitution. The government provided $270,000 for anti-trafficking efforts and opened its first shelter for victims of crime in Chuuk. The government also designated a full-time assistant attorney general to prosecute all human trafficking cases and hired four investigators to support this work. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government remained without standard operating procedures (SOPs) for proactive victim identification and referral to protection services. Law enforcement and judicial understanding of trafficking remained low and overall protection services were insufficient.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, and sentence convicted traffickers to significant prison terms. • Finalize, disseminate, and train officials on procedures for the proactive identification and referral of trafficking victims to rehabilitation services. • Increase resources for protection services for trafficking victims. • Increase and institutionalize anti-trafficking training for police, prosecutors, and judges, including on how to implement a victim-centered approach. • Provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. • Strengthen efforts to implement the national action plan (NAP) and state-level plans, including through staffing a governmental anti-trafficking secretariat. • Monitor foreign labor recruitment for trafficking indicators, including the coercive use of debt. • Strengthen efforts to conduct anti-trafficking awareness campaigns targeted to traditional leaders, health care professionals, and the public, including those citizens of FSM who might migrate for work overseas.

PROSECUTION

The government increased law enforcement efforts. The national anti-trafficking law criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $5,000-$25,000, or both for offenses involving adult victims, and up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a fine of between $5,000-$50,000, or both for offenses involving child victims. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regards to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. Each of Micronesia’s four states had its own laws that criminalized trafficking offenses; however, Pohnpei and Chuuk States did not explicitly prohibit adult sex trafficking. Cases prosecuted at the state level may be heard subsequently at the national level, under national anti trafficking law, depending on which court hears a case.

The government reported investigating nine alleged trafficking cases, compared with eight in 2017, and prosecuting seven alleged traffickers, compared with two in 2017. Courts convicted six traffickers during the reporting period, an increase compared with two traffickers convicted in 2017. The Chuuk State court sentenced three traffickers for child sex trafficking to nine years’ imprisonment and ordered each offender to pay $1,000 in restitution to the victim. In March 2019, a Supreme Court judge sentenced the mother and stepfather of a child sex trafficking victim to seven years and eight months’ imprisonment and ordered each to pay the victim $40,000 in restitution. The combined $80,000 in restitution imposed by the court on the offenders was one of the largest restitution judgments in the history of the court. Also in March 2019, the Pohnpei State court sentenced a cab driver who used his taxi to recruit, transport, and deliver girls to have sex with sailors on shore leave and other men between 2015 and 2017 to 10 years’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay a total of $14,000 restitution to two identified victims. The court allowed the offender to be released from prison at certain hours on Sunday to attend church and visit his children during the duration of his incarceration.

During the reporting period, the Department of Justice (DOJ) assigned a full-time assistant attorney general to prosecute all human trafficking cases and hired four investigators, two in Chuuk and two in Kosrae, who specialize in human trafficking. In 2018, the government provided DOJ with $100,000 for investigation and awareness programs; DOJ continued to provide training for law enforcement, judges, lawyers, health providers, faith-based organizations, and youth and women’s groups at the state and national level. Despite these trainings, judges lacked specialized training and consequently some judges lacked sensitivity to trafficking issues and the trauma victims experienced. In previous years, the absence of judicial training and Micronesian law, which allowed for penalties of fines in lieu of imprisonment, regularly permitted judges to apply penalties that were disproportionately low to the severity of the crimes. The government’s police academy training for new cadets included a mandatory training on investigating trafficking cases and how to interview potential victims. Observers stated police still required additional training on sex trafficking and sophisticated investigation techniques. The insular nature of the small island communities at times protected traffickers and impeded investigations. Police did not frequently investigate or charge traffickers whose role was to facilitate rather than impose exploitation, such as hotel owners, taxi drivers, and family members. Authorities did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.

PROTECTION

The government increased efforts to protect victims. In August 2018, the government finalized and approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim assistance and referral to state law enforcement; however, the government remained without SOPs to proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them to rehabilitation services. Insufficient identification efforts may have made victims vulnerable to law enforcement actions against them, such as deportation. The government did not report the number of potential victims it identified but reported providing food, clothing, medical services, psychological evaluation, counseling services, assistance with the appointment of legal guardians, and academic and social reintegration support, in partnership with an international organization, to 10 Micronesian girls who were victims of sex trafficking. This was an increase compared with the government providing limited protection services to two victims during the previous reporting period. In January 2019, the government opened its first shelter, available to all victims of crimes, in Chuuk. The government provided $100,000 for additional DOJ personnel and victim services and, in January 2019, provided an additional $70,000 to support a trafficking victim psychologist and the hotline established in the previous reporting period. The hotline operated 24 hours a day in English and local languages and while it received calls during the reporting period, none of the calls resulted in trafficking investigations.

The DOJ employed an anti-human trafficking coordinator at the national level and three assistant coordinators at the state level, who provided support to the victim from the investigation through the trial and for several years after the disposition of the victim’s case. During the reporting year, a judge in Chuuk granted the implementation of special trial procedures by agreeing to close the court and providing a screen for the victim to sit behind during the victim’s testimony. The government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. The DOJ coordinated the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. Each of the four states’ anti-trafficking task forces, comprised of members of state and national law enforcement, the legal community, medical and mental health professionals, immigration officials, and women’s empowerment and faith-based groups, continued to operate during the reporting period. Chuuk’s task force met monthly and was the most active. The government reported it continued to implement its 2014 national action plan (NAP) and three of the four states had action plans linked to the NAP. The government provided $100,000 to DOJ for investigations and awareness activities, a large increase from approximately $100 for awareness activities in the previous reporting period. The government reported it conducted monthly community awareness programs throughout the four states. The government did not report any efforts to monitor foreign labor recruitment or preparation of Micronesian women and girls leaving to work in other countries. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in the FSM, and traffickers exploit victims from FSM abroad. Sex traffickers exploit Micronesian women and girls through commercial sex with the crewmembers of docked Asian fishing vessels and on vessels in FSM territorial waters, or with foreign construction workers. Some family members exploit Micronesian girls in sex trafficking. Local authorities claim many sex trafficking cases are unreported due to social stigma and victims’ fear of possible repercussions in their home communities. Foreign and domestic employers in FSM exploit low-skilled foreign migrant workers in forced labor, including in restaurants. Foreign migrants from Southeast Asian countries report working in conditions indicative of human trafficking on Asian fishing vessels in FSM or its territorial waters. Traffickers recruit FSM women with promises of well-paying jobs in the United States and its territories but upon their arrival they are subsequently forced into commercial sex or domestic service.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future