A new Australian Institute of Criminology report observes there has been an alarming rise in people trafficking in Pacific Island countries, much of it linked to the drug trade and other crimes.
The report also claims the islands are transit points for other people trafficking operations as criminals take advantage of ‘weak laws, corruption and inadequate border controls and documentation.’
It says workers from outside the region are being entrapped to work in logging, mining, tourism and other industries, and that young women are being used in a ‘sex for fish’ trade.
‘Some members of Asian crime syndicates have migrated to the Pacific, gained citizenship and set up legitimate businesses to act as a cover for illegal activities, such as money laundering and large-scale drug transshipments,’ it’s authors say.
Over the six years to 2009, 10 Pacific Island nations (Fiji, Guam, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu) reported that they had reason to believe people were trafficked into their country.
The report says strategies targeting the vulnerabilities are needed to combat trafficking in persons, including local specialised anti-trafficking legislation and law enforcement support, and efforts to address weaknesses in immigration laws; corruption in related agencies; and strengthening community vigilance and policing.
For the full report visit the Australian Institute of Criminology