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Palau remains in Tier 2 for trafficking efforts

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KOROR  (Island Times/Pacnews) — Palau remains on Tier 2 of the Trafficking in Persons Report released by the U.S State Department in June.

Palau is one of the jurisdictions evaluated by the U.S. which rank them into four tiers by ((Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3), with Tier 1 being the best and Tier 3 the worst.

The report said Palau has made efforts to suppress human trafficking including acceding to the 2000 U.N. TIP Protocol, conducting more campaigns to raise awareness of human trafficking, and providing victims with temporary employment placements.

However, these are not enough to raise Palau’s ranking, with the report stating that there is still a lack of minimum standards in tackling human trafficking.

“The government remained without standard operating procedures for victim identification and referral to services, leading to insufficient identification and protection services,” the report stated.

The report likewise noted that human trafficking efforts are hindered by recurring issues including officials’ complicity in facilitating trafficking.

The report recommended that Palau  step up its efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including complicit officials, under trafficking laws, and sentence traffickers to adequate penalties, which should involve significant prison terms.

It recommended that Palau also amend the anti-trafficking laws to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses.

Palau, moreover, should create and implement a system to proactively offer foreign trafficking victims job placements and work visa extensions.

The report highlighted the government’s weak efforts in protecting victims which usually leads to the “foreign migrant workers’ reluctance to complain to authorities out of fear that such complaints would result in job termination and deportation.”

In the past five years, human trafficking in Palau usually involved foreign victims offered jobs in exchange for thousands of dollars in recruitment fees.

These workers accept jobs in domestic service, agriculture, restaurants or construction.

“But upon arrival, [they find themselves] in conditions substantially different from what have been presented in contracts or recruitment offers, and some become trafficking victims,” the report stated.

“Women from the Philippines and China are recruited to work in Palau as waitresses or clerks, but traffickers exploit some in sex trafficking in karaoke bars or massage parlors. Foreign workers on fishing boats in Palauan waters also experience conditions indicative of human trafficking” 

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