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    Monday, December 9, 2019-2:21:32P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Palau remains Tier Two in Trafficking in Persons Report

KOROR (Island Times/Pacnews) — Palau remains on Tier Two of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2019 released on Thursday last week by the U.S Department of State.

According to the report, the Palauan government has made significant effort to tackle the problem of human trafficking in the country. However, it has failed to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of the problem.

The previous report in 2017 put Palau under Tier Two and suggested protective services for the victims such as a government-funded shelter.

The 2019 report acknowledges the steps taken by the Palau government since 2017 which include a national action plan; funding an assessment of the trafficking situation in Palau and an anti-trafficking infrastructure; creating a temporary shelter for victims; and establishing a trafficking hotline.

However, the shortcomings of Palau authorities were also pointed out in the 2019 report: “Protection services were insufficient; the government did not provide basic services such as medical and psychological care, and the government did not investigate indicators of trafficking in labor recruitment and contract violations experienced by many foreign workers.”

Island Times attempted to reach out to Anti-Human Trafficking Office coordinator Jennifer Anson but was told that she was off-island.

According to the 2019 report, Palau authorities investigated labor, immigration, law enforcement and elected officials for facilitating trafficking.

The report recommended an increase in resources to develop victim protection and rehabilitation services which include long-term shelter options. The report added that victims shouldn’t be prosecuted for the crimes they may have been compelled to do by traffickers.

“While the 2005 Anti-Smuggling and Trafficking Act granted victims immunity from prosecution for the ‘act of people trafficking,’ the vague language permitted prosecution for unlawful acts the trafficker compelled the victim to commit, such as prostitution or petty crime.”

The report likewise noted that the Palau Attorney General’s Office did not request restitution for trafficking victims, reportedly due to an inability to submit admissible evidence.