2015 Human Trafficking Report: COFA Nations


The annual human trafficking report was released this July. The three COFA nations of Palau, The FSM, and the Marshall Islands are on the list with details of trafficking activities occurring in each country.

Types of trafficking occurring in the islands include: sex trafficking, prostitution, and forced labor. Some islands are sources and/or destinations for human trafficking. Meaning that victims are either from these islands, being sent to other countries from these islands, or being brought to these islands from another country.

The report has four tiers, or four levels of human trafficking.

  • Tier 1: are countries that have laws, penalties and programs in place to fight human trafficking. They are countries that have the minimum standards needed to eliminate human trafficking.
  • Tier 2: countries that do not have the minimum needed requirements but are taking strides to do so.
  • Tier 2 Watch List: these countries are also trying to fight human trafficking but they are experiencing severe amounts of trafficking occurring in their country. These are also countries that can't prove that they are taking the right steps to fix the situation.
  • Tier 3: these are countries that do not comply with minimum standards and have shown little effort in fighting human trafficking.

Here are excerpts from the report:

PALAU (Tier 2):

"Palau is a destination country for women subjected to sex trafficking and for women and men subjected to forced labor. Palau’s foreign population, about one-third of the country’s population of 21,000, is the most vulnerable to trafficking. Filipino, Chinese, and Korean men and women pay thousands of dollars in recruitment fees and willingly migrate to Palau for jobs in domestic service, agriculture, restaurants, or construction. Upon arrival, some are forced to work in conditions substantially different from what had been presented in contracts or recruitment offers, and some become trafficking victims. Women from China and the Philippines are recruited to work in Palau as waitresses or clerks, but some are subsequently forced into prostitution in karaoke bars or massage parlors—many operated by Taiwanese, Filipino, or Palauan nationals. Foreign workers on fishing boats in Palau waters experience conditions indicative of human trafficking. Regulations that make it extremely difficult for foreign workers to change employers once they arrive in Palau place foreign workers at increased risk of involuntary servitude and debt bondage. Official complicity plays a significant role in facilitating trafficking; government officials—including a governor, a police officer, a labor official, and an immigration official—have been investigated for complicity in trafficking crimes."

FSM (Tier 2):

“[The FSM] is a source, transit, and, to a limited extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The groups most vulnerable to trafficking in FSM include foreign migrant workers and Micronesian women and girls who allegedly engage in prostitution at restaurants frequented by crew members of docked Asian fishing vessels. FSM women are recruited with promises of well paying jobs in the United States and its territories, but are subsequently forced into prostitution or domestic labor upon arrival. Local authorities claim many sex trafficking cases are unreported due to victims’ fear of embarrassment in FSM’s insular communities. Foreign migrants from Southeast Asian countries report working in conditions indicative of human trafficking on Asian fishing vessels in FSM or its territorial waters. "

The Marshall Islands (Tier 3):

“The Marshall Islands is a source and destination country for RMI women and girls and women from East Asia subjected to sex trafficking. RMI girls are recruited by foreign business owners to engage in prostitution with crew members of foreign fishing and transshipping vessels that dock in Majuro. Foreign women, most of whom are long-term residents, are subjected to forced prostitution in establishments frequented by crew members of Chinese and other foreign fishing vessels; some Chinese women are recruited with promises of legitimate work and, after paying large recruitment fees, are forced into prostitution."

for the full report: Trafficking In Persons Report, July 2015