US government slams PNG for failure to combat people trafficking. Children as young as 10 being forced into prostitution
WASHINGTON DC - The government of Papua New Guinea does not fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of people trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, according to the United States government.
This year’s annual report on trafficking by the US Department of State says that, as a result, PNG has been downgraded to the lowest of four tiers on the trafficking scale, with evidence that children as young as 10 are being forced into prostitution.
The report states PNG has taken some minimal steps to address the problem, including initiating the first investigation of a government official under anti-trafficking law, but that progress is hindered by an acute lack of resources as well as very low awareness of the problem among government officials and the public.
The PNG government did not provide or fund protective services for victims, did not systematically implement victim identification procedures and did not identify any trafficking victims in 2017. It also did not initiate any prosecutions and did not achieve a single trafficking conviction for the fifth consecutive year.
In fact, the government decreased law enforcement efforts in 2017 despite partnering with an international organisation to conduct training for officials.
The police investigated a police commander for allegedly subjecting eight women to sex and labour trafficking but, similar to past years, it did not achieve even one trafficking conviction. In fact, the government decreased efforts to protect victims.
In other cases officials did not apprehend any vessels for illegal fishing and trafficking in 2017, and logging and mining sites operated in remote regions with “negligible government oversight and authorities did not make efforts to identify sex or labour trafficking victims”.
For the sixth consecutive year, the report identified PNG as a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. It cited international NGO research which found that 30% of sex trafficking victims were children under the age of 18, some as young as 10.
The report also revealed that Malaysian and Chinese logging companies arrange for foreign women to enter PNG voluntarily with fraudulently issued visas. After their arrival, many of these women—from countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, and the Philippines—are turned over to traffickers who transport them to logging and mining camps, fisheries and entertainment sites, and exploit them in forced prostitution and domestic servitude
Stating that the government “maintained minimal efforts to prevent trafficking”, the report made ten major recommendations for improvement including increasing collaboration with other organisations in PNG to raise awareness of commercial sex acts, especially of children.