19 Jul 2013

US red-flags Marshall Islands as a sex trafficking destination

7:25 am on 19 July 2013

The U.S. State Department has red-flagged the Marshall Islands as a sex trafficking destination, and put the country on a global watch list.

In last year's State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, the Marshall Islands was listed as a Tier 2 country, the middle designation in a report that lists countries as Tier 1, 2 and 3.

But in the 2013 report, which was reported in the Marshall Islands Journal this week, the Marshall Islands' status is downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.

The report says the Republic of the Marshall Island is a destination country for women from East Asia subjected to sex trafficking.

It also added the government made no efforts to prevent trafficking during the year nor did it conduct any public campaigns or take other steps to raise public awareness about the dangers of trafficking.

The report also says the Marshalls government has not made efforts to identify victims proactively, especially among vulnerable populations, such as foreign and local women in prostitution and foreign men on fishing vessels in Marshallese waters.

The State Department report urges the Marshalls government to train law enforcement and judicial officials to implement new anti-trafficking laws.

It also says the government needs increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and punish trafficking offenders and apply stringent sentences to convicted offenders.