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Vulnerabilities to trafficking in persons in the Pacific Islands

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 428

Jade Lindley and Laura Beacroft
ISSN 1836-2206
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, November 2011

Foreword | There is emerging evidence that the Pacific Island region is vulnerable to the crime of trafficking in persons. Using information from a range of Pacific Island stakeholder forums and consultations conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), together with a review of the literature, key issues relevant to trafficking in persons in the Pacific Islands region are identified in this paper.

Existing patterns of people movement, weak border and immigration controls, states affected by poor governance, failing rule of law and corruption, the impact of cultural practices entwined with poverty and a limited capacity to respond to natural disasters are identified as key vulnerabilities to trafficking in persons.

It is noted that the factors that facilitate susceptibility to trafficking also provide focal areas for strategies to prevent and suppress trafficking in persons and to address transnational crime in the Pacific Islands region more generally. This paper provides a foundation for ongoing research on trafficking in persons in the Pacific Islands region and the identification of effective prevention strategies, which will be undertaken by the AIC in the future.

Adam Tomison
Director

That the Pacific Island region is vulnerable to trafficking in persons, and is already being exploited, is evidenced by a documented trafficking in persons incident in the Northern Mariana Islands in 2005 (Ogumoro 2007), subsequent incidents in 2006, 2009 and 2010 in other Pacific nations (see Boxes 1, 2 and 3) and other incidents documented in recent reports (UNODC 2009a). Pacific Island nations are in the early stages of implementing anti-trafficking treaties and measures, and the Australian Government’s strategies to stop trafficking in persons in Australia in part depend on the success of Pacific Island nations in this regard. To date, the vulnerabilities of the Pacific Island region to trafficking in persons and examples of successful strategies to tackle them are not well documented. This paper provides an overview of key vulnerabilities and some approaches to addressing them.

Box 1: Fiji 2009 and 2010 case studies

In 2009, several Indian and Fijian nationals faced the Suva Magistrates Court in Fiji, charged with trafficking in persons and facilitating the stay of illegal immigrants. They were allegedly aided by airport-based immigration officials, who were subsequently suspended. During 2009, the defendants allegedly lured 13 Indian nationals aged between 22 and 42 years to non-existent jobs in a local Fijian company. The prosecution failed due to prosecuting authorities repeatedly failing to appear.

Source: Refugee Review Tribunal 2010

In November 2010, an Indian national was convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment for deceiving seven Indian nationals about work in New Zealand and taking them to Fiji instead. An immigration official identified them as possible victims of trafficking persons.

Source: US Department of State 2011

The vulnerabilities discussed in this paper largely emerge from the literature that is available on trafficking, specifically that involving Pacific Island nations. The paper also uses information from unique Pacific Island stakeholder forums and consultations conducted by the AIC with regional partners in 2008 and 2009 (see Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009; Lindley & Davis 2009).

The internationally recognised definition for trafficking in persons is found in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (the Protocol), which has 143 state parties, including Australia and most Pacific nations (UNODC 2004). Under this Protocol, the crime of trafficking in persons involves three elements— an action such as recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving persons; a coercive means that ranges from abduction to abuse of power; and a purpose that is exploitative, such as sexual exploitation or forced labour. A child, defined as someone under 18 years of age, can be a victim of trafficking in the absence of any coercion due to their age vulnerability (UNODC 2004). The Protocol supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as trafficking in persons can be associated with transnational and/or organised crime.

The Pacific Islands region

The Pacific Islands region is made up of 17 sovereign nations and five non self-governing (or non-decolonialised) territories; with each nation or territory consisting of many islands. These island nations range widely in land area and population—from the Pitcairn Islands (population less than 50) to Papua New Guinea (population over 6.7 million; see Table 1). The region is divided into three subregions—Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia; with significant heterogeneity in culture and social and political arrangements between these sub-regions. As a result of these differences, not all islands are equally exposed to trafficking in persons.

Australia has developed strong bilateral ties with its nearest neighbours in the Pacific (DFAT 2009) and has membership of the British Commonwealth in common with some. Australia’s important role in the Pacific region is recognised internationally, not least because of the approximately $1b it provides annually in aid (Rose, Quanchi & Moore 2009).

Adoption of the protocol

Pacific Island nations are in the early stages of committing to and implementing anti-trafficking treaties and measures. By adopting the Protocol, members agree to implement domestic anti-trafficking legislation and national measures to prevent the occurrence of trafficking, to protect victims and to prosecute offenders. Non self-governing Pacific Island nations can be compliant with the Protocol by virtue of the actions of the overseas country with which they share governance. However, the implementation of local anti-trafficking measures including legislation in the Pacific Islands is desirable given the special vulnerabilities outlined in this paper.

Some Pacific Island nations have enacted anti-trafficking legislation, for example Palau (UNDOC 2009a), and model legislation to support the enactment of sound domestic legislation is becoming available. For example, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has developed one such model (Buresova cited in Lindley & Davis 2009) and there is also the UN model legislation (UNODC 2009b). Many other nations in the region rely on often inadequate existing criminal law provisions where trafficking is not recognised as a specific crime. Australia has a supporting role in the implementation of the Protocol in the Pacific Island region; when Australia ratified the Protocol in 2005 it also committed to provide assistance to regional partners (UNODC 2004).

Emerging evidence of trafficking in persons

Since 2003, an important regional collection of data relevant to trafficking in persons has been undertaken by the Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference (PIDC). Each year, the 23 members of the PIDC (of which Australia is one) produces an unpublished annual report based on monthly intelligence reports containing data on people smuggling, human trafficking and illegal migration in the region. The report notes that caution must be applied in reading the data, with one clear limitation being that the annual report data does not capture incidents of trafficking occurring within a country, that is, domestic trafficking. However, it claims to present ‘the most accurate and wide-ranging information on immigration in the region’ (PIDC cited in Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009: 60).

Over a six year period 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 (PIDC cited in Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009) The PIDC has noted that the facilitators of trafficking are often not based in the region (Komiti cited in Lindley & Davis 2009) and the most publicised cases have involved a transnational element (see Boxes 1, 2 and 3). A matter raised by a range of participants during the AIC’s 2008 consultations in the Pacific was that the Pacific Islands are being used as temporary transit points. This anecdotal evidence was supported by the official data supplied by the PIDC (PIDC cited in Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009). The finding is perhaps not surprising since the region has been used as a transit point for people smuggling and a range of other organised transnational criminal activities, such as drug smuggling and exploitation of resources through illegal fishing and logging (Hill 2006).

Cases reported in this paper, which are prosecutions or cases that exhibit elements and/or recognised risks of trafficking in persons (International Labour Office 2009), suggest this crime can involve legal or illegal entry (see Boxes 1 and 2); however, illegal entry generally poses greater risks due to the vulnerability of illegal migrants (Joudo Larsen 2010).

The available evidence suggests that trafficking within or into the Pacific Island region, particularly from Asia, is a greater risk than the trafficking of persons from the region into Australia (see Boxes 1, 2 and 3). This is, in part, due to Australia’s strong border and immigration controls. These controls are complemented by recent initiatives such as the Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme, which allows individuals from the region to gain temporary workers rights in Australia (Ball, Beacroft & Lindley forthcoming). This scheme may potentially reduce the need for Pacific persons to consider entering the country illegally. Despite the lesser risk of trafficking of persons into Australia, there are some instances of its occurrence. In 2006, a young Cook Islands man was recruited to work in Australia and upon his arrival, had his passport taken from him and endured physical abuse and exploitative working conditions. The case exhibits the hallmarks of a trafficking crime—recruitment, the removal of a passport and severe exploitation at destination. Ultimately, this matter was dealt with under other criminal and industrial laws and successfully prosecuted.

Transnational crime

Transnational crime can involve trafficking in persons for otherwise legal purposes, such as labour in legal industries (see Box 2). Alternatively, it can be used to facilitate other illegal activities including organised crime, which has been found to be present in the region; for example, 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 transhipments (Rolf 2004).

Box 2: Niue 2006 case study

In 2006, 15 Indian males allegedly each paid facilitators between $20,000 and $38,000 to work overseas, with the promise of attractive hourly rates and an entitlement to New Zealand citizenship after five years. To fund the travel to Niue (their destination), many of the Indian families sold their land. The facilitators were based in the United Kingdom, India, New Zealand and Niue. After their applications to transit through New Zealand were rejected, the men entered Niue via South Korea, Fiji and Samoa. The men were forced to surrender travel documents upon arrival in Niue and these were only returned upon departure five years later. During that five year period, the men were forced to work for low wages and also repay the costs of their transportation from India. They were housed in unsatisfactory accommodation. The International Organization for Migration intervened and assisted the Indian workers in their return to India and reintegration. At the time of publication, prosecutions had not been initiated in any of the countries involved in the incident, despite the facts of the case having key elements and risks associated with trafficking in persons.

Source: Blakemore cited in Lindley & Davis 2009

Gambling and prostitution have been highlighted as forming part of a larger, more organised, syndicate of criminal activity in the Pacific region (Vayrynen 2003), which was confirmed through the AIC’s consultations in the Pacific (Australian Government representative personal communication March 2008). The Palau case study (see Box 3) demonstrates the transnational elements of trafficking of persons into the sex industry. The Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre (an offshoot of the Australian Federal Police) was involved in the investigation of an incident of trafficking of persons from China into the Pacific for sex work and the use of fishing vessels to transport them (Evans cited in Lindley & Davis 2009). In early February 2010, a joint police and immigration raid in Fiji found nine Chinese nationals in breach of their visas, seven of whom were vulnerable women engaging in prostitution (Pacific Islands Report 2010).

Box 3: Palau 2006 case study

In August 2006, seven Filipino and nine Chinese women were allegedly trafficked into Palau by four Chinese nationals.
It was alleged that the Filipino women paid US$900 to be recruited to waitress jobs where they would supposedly earn
US$250 per month. The Chinese women allegedly paid US$5,000 with an expectation of earning US$2,000 per month
as waitresses. On arrival, it was alleged that their passports were confiscated, they were given six packets of condoms
and learned they would be sex workers; also that their salary would be subject to deductions, including a US$100 ‘fine’ for refusing to have sex with a customer. They were required to work seven days per week and allowed to leave the premises for only two hours per day.

In April 2007, the four offenders—the owner, manager, recruiter and ‘mamasan’—were convicted of a range of offences relating to trafficking in persons, advancing prostitution and violation of labour laws. The owner and manager were sentenced for 20 years, the recruiter received three years and the mamasan received one year imprisonment. At the time of the trial, the prosecution faced significant challenges in that the 2005 national anti-trafficking legislation had not been tested in the courts. On appeal, the convictions of all four defendants were reversed in 2008 and 2009. No new trafficking convictions have been recorded by the Palau Government as of June 2011.

Source: Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009; US Department of State 2011, 2010

However, Marshall (2001) has pointed out that ‘cottage industry’ criminal activity may in fact be more common in the Pacific than centrally organised crime, in that small-time operators commonly work in isolation, contributing directly to small aspects of a larger transnational criminal operation. During consultations in 2007, Pacific law enforcement agencies highlighted to the AIC that small-scale criminals may be involved with larger criminal syndicates based outside of the Pacific, where they are used to facilitate activities within the Pacific region. The involvement of transnational crime facilitators from across the globe, mainly in developed nations, is highlighted particularly by the case study in Box 2. ‘Cottage industry’ organised crime of this nature is still considered serious and when chains of small local operators are coupled with international facilitators, this type of crime can create challenges in detection and prosecution, as seen in the Niue case study where prosecutions were not initiated (see Box 2).

Key vulnerabilities and protective approaches

Given the transnational element of vulnerabilities in the Pacific Island region highlighted above, strengthening border controls and regulation of people movements into and out of Pacific Island nations and the wider region may be a critical part of prevention. Initiatives are under way, for example, by the PIDC, the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (White 2008), the Pacific Transnational Crime Network (Noakes cited in Lindley & Davis 2009) and the Oceania Customs Organisation (Dreu cited in Lindley & Davis 2009) among others, to strengthen border and immigration security. Their focus is to increase regulation of maritime activities, visa-free arrangements and the issue and use of immigration documents. While these initiatives are important, there is a question of the adequacy of their scale in tackling trafficking in persons, given the challenges faced by the Pacific Islands region, as is the case for many developing countries, in tackling trafficking in persons.

People movements

During the AIC’s consultations, it was commonly noted that for cultural reasons, the Pacific Islands region has a history of labour mobility (Ratuva 2008; Rose, Quanchi & Moore 2009). In this context of cultural mobility, people movements into, within and out of the region are increasing for various reasons linked to regional changes that are outlined in this section below. Such movements may be unregulated and coupled with increasing migration, raises the risk of trafficking in persons and similar crimes.

Increased movement within or out of the region by nationals is, in part, due to population drivers. Growth rates in the majority of Pacific Islands, particularly Melanesia, generally exceed average economic growth rates (McMurray 2006), increasing the pressure to migrate in order to find work (Ware 2005). In addition, natural disasters, poverty or disparities in economic and security conditions, together with other push and pull factors, have led to substantial people movement in the region (Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009).

The extent of outward migration from the region is illustrated by the scale of earnings remitted home by Pacific Islanders living overseas, being 39, 25 and 15 percent of the gross domestic product for Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati respectively (Browne & Mineshima 2007; Ware 2005). While outward migration may be economically attractive, it can leave the outgoing migrants vulnerable at their destinations.

Movement of Pacific Islanders out of the region also potentially increases the risk of trafficking of inward migrants or relocation of migrants already in the region to supplement a diminishing local workforce (eg see Box 2). Movement into the region is already increasing due to substantial maritime activity (ie fishing, yachting, cruise and cargo shipping), resource and agricultural industries (ie logging, mining and non-traditional agriculture such as coffee) and tourism involving high levels of visa-free entry (Komiti cited in Lindley & Davis 2009; Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009). Demand for workers in these industries is high and exploitative work environments are common, such as those identified by Fiji’s United Nations Development Fund for Women, which then presents risks for labour trafficking (Rokoduru 2008). For example, Fijian authorities became aware of employers in sugar mills seizing passports and other documentation belonging to migrant workers to prevent them from leaving the mills, while exposing the workers to harsh treatment (Rokoduru 2008).

Immigration and law enforcement

The region has a history of migration without adequate documentation (ie without identity and immigration documents such as visas; Hiesley 2008) and migration in these circumstances makes migrants more vulnerable to exploitation or trafficking (Joudo Larsen 2010). Government representatives from across the Pacific reported that children often don’t have birth registration documents, particularly those born in times of crisis such as community disputes, political unrest and natural disasters, which increases risks of child exploitation and trafficking.

A compounding issue for trafficking risks is that Pacific Islands’ law enforcement and border control mechanisms may often be inadequate (Lindley & Davis 2009). People movements occurring in more remote areas of the region may not be regulated at all, increasing opportunities for trafficking in persons and other crimes (Roughan cited in Lindley & Davis 2009).

Allegations of child exploitation (Herbert 2007) that may, in some cases, involve trafficking in persons are complicated by a limited law enforcement presence in outlying islands due to a lack of capacity and limited respect for appropriate laws by international workers (Government and non-government representatives personal communications February/March 2008).

Special migration pathways

Elements of Pacific Island immigration laws may be exploited by traffickers to avoid detection (Vayrynen 2003). Due to colonial legacies, some Pacific Island nations belonging to Micronesia and Polynesia have special migration arrangements with the United States and New Zealand. Although immigration controls at destination countries such as the United States may be strong, these special arrangements may increase the risk of trafficking into Pacific Island nations, as people make their way to these islands in order to more easily access the target country, for example, a developed nation such as New Zealand (eg see Boxes 1 and 2). Hence, some Pacific nations become transit points for trafficking in persons and other transnational criminal activities. Conversely, Melanesia has limited special migration arrangements (see Table 1) and it is the absence of this safety valve (Ware 2005) for migration that results in increased pressure for undocumented and hence riskier migration practices within the country or the region (Government and non-government representatives personal communications March 2008).

Criminals seek passports for countries with special migration arrangements in order to facilitate transnational crime (McCusker 2006). Other incentives for obtaining ‘passports of convenience’ include tax-free exemptions, entry into foreign states, ability to bypass travel restrictions, the provision of foreign or privileged status in home country, to change identity or escape criminal past (Van Fossen 2007).

Obtaining passports through legitimate means has historically been relatively easy in the Pacific. In the past, the governments of Tonga, Marshall Islands and Nauru have implemented schemes for the sale of passports to citizens of certain countries or those willing to invest a certain amount of money (Van Fossen 2007). Although these schemes have since been abolished, it is probable that passport sales still occur due to a lack of transparency and democratic accountability (Van Fossen 2007). It follows that improved immigration document controls for the region are a focus for anti-trafficking and other crime prevention strategies.

Issues of Pacific Island governance

States with governance and a rule of law that is ‘weak, failing or failed’ (Roughan cited in Lindley & Davis 2009: 16) may have a reduced capacity to enforce and protect against crime and/or may be more prone to corruption (Graycar & McCusker 2007; Rolf 2004).

Some Islands have responded to governance concerns by implementing frameworks to improve accountability; for example, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). RAMSI involves the participation and support of the people and government of the Solomon Islands and 15 contributing countries (all within the Pacific region). It is an organised effort to improve the Solomon Islands’ capacity to implement law, justice and security measures in addition to improving governance mechanisms, accountability, service delivery and promote economic growth (RAMSI 2006).

Anti-corruption initiatives linked to whole of government activities such as finance and health, are being put in place by some Pacific Island nations and have been identified as good practice for the Pacific (AusAID 2006a). However, more could be done to increase the scale of such initiatives and official corruption remains common to the Pacific Island region, placing increased pressure on the efficacy of regulatory networks (AusAID 2006b). Transparency International (2010) ranked seven Pacific Islands in the 2010 Corruption Perception Index, with each of the six receiving a score that indicates perceived corruption is a problem. Of these six, perceived corruption was least problematic in Samoa and most problematic in Papua New Guinea, a ranking similar to that given in previous reports.

Corruption of any sort hinders attempts to deliver other strategies that may help prevent trafficking, such as those related to achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015, as well as the effectiveness of overseas aid generally (AusAID 2006a; Bastick & Grimm 2007; UN 2000). Specifically, official corruption, particularly of immigration officials, aids the process of supplying documents used in identity and immigration fraud (Boister 2004). Such corruption is especially relevant when attempting to prevent organised transnational trafficking in persons, as it allows traffickers to move across borders inconspicuously (eg see Box 1; Bastick & Grimm 2007).

Cultural issues

Consultations with Pacific non-government organisations highlighted that cultural knowledge and practices can offer protection from trafficking in persons. For example, small cohesive communities can contribute to improved policing and reporting of the crime, especially in remote areas (see Chadwick forthcoming; Joudo Larsen 2011 ). However, cultural practices can also raise risks (Ali 2006). While there is diversity in culture in the region, Pacific Island cultures often have patriarchal social systems, where the attitudes, beliefs and interests, and the role of men dominate social institutions, decision-making, ideas and practices in the private and public spheres (Griffen 2006). The consequences of this disempowerment of women is that violence against women and girls can be unchecked, increasing their vulnerability to other harm, such as being trafficked (Ali 2006). Poverty, when intertwined with patriarchal social systems, particularly impacts on the education and future employment opportunities for girls and women in the Pacific. These factors may have contributed to an observed increase in young women working in the sex industry, with the inherent risk that such work may involve trafficking (Hill 2006). All of the factors described here may be contributing to the reported exposure of young women to a system where sex is traded for fish and fresh produce; such a system has been identified as widespread in the Pacific among local and international fishing trawlers (Government representative personal communication March 2008; Herbert 2007). The full nature and extent of violence against women and children and its relationship to human trafficking is a complex issue beyond the scope of this paper, but one that will be explored in a future AIC paper.

A lawyer from Papua New Guinea reflected the views from a forum and other consultations in the Pacific Islands when he noted that early marriage, bride price (ie payment for the bride) and customary adoption are other cultural practices that may increase the risk of exploitation, including being trafficked (Raula cited in Lindley & Davis 2009; Non-government representative personal communication March 2008). Further, the practice of sending children and young people to live with relatives in urban areas in order to attend school or seek employment, may also increase vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking (Chadwick forthcoming; Joudo Larsen, Lindley & Putt 2009).

AIC consultations emphasised the protective potential of small supportive communities against trafficking in persons and recommended the further support and development of community-based responses, including the increased utilisation of the capacity of churches and community policing (Hiesley 2008; White 2008). For example, as marine vessels can be unchecked by state agencies when docking in the Pacific community, community-based vigilance and policing is an area for potential development to improve prevention and the detection of trafficking of persons (Australian Government representative, personal communication March 2008).

A commonly cited example of this type of initiative is the situational analysis undertaken by the Christian Care Centre of Solomon Islands on the risks of exploitation of children, including logging camp employees buying young brides (Herbert 2007; Non-government representative, personal communication March 2008). International analysis of some of the most significant ‘non-traditional’ approaches to tackling organised crime included involving community, the private sector and non-justice system agencies (Levi & Maguire 2004).

Proneness to natural disasters

Natural disasters create an opportunity for traffickers to prey on vulnerable people, both children (the most vulnerable) and adults, who may have lost family, homes and their livelihoods. They may also exacerbate pre-existing corrupt systems that can support or facilitate trafficking due to further breakdowns in governance and the rule of law following natural disasters.

In recent times, the potential for trafficking of persons in the wake of natural disasters surfaced following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami where reports emerged of rape, sexual abuse, kidnapping and trafficking in persons (Graycar & McCusker 2007). Similarly, concerns were raised after the October 2009 earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific region devastated Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, leaving thousands homeless and causing an estimated US$147.25m worth of damage (UNOCHA 2009). Although it may be difficult to achieve, improved responses to natural disasters that minimise adverse impacts on internally displaced persons, avoid forced people movements and disruption to good state governance practices are key to minimising trafficking (USAID 2006).

Table 1 Pacific Island nation populations and ‘special’ international migration options
Pacific IslandPopulationaSpecial migration opportunities for citizens
Melanesia
Fiji 849,000 Some access for Indo-Fijian’s to India
Papua New Guinea 6,732,000  
New Caledonia 244,410b Access to France
Solomon Islands 523,000  
Vanuatu 240,000  
Micronesia
Federated States of Micronesia 110,000 Access to United States
Guam 178,000 Access to United States
Kiribati 98,000  
Marshall Islands 62,000 Access to United States
Nauru 10,000  
Northern Mariana Islands 87,000 Access to United States
Palau 20,000
Polynesia
American Samoa 67,000 Access to United States
Cook Islands 20,000 Access to New Zealand
French Polynesia 259,596c Access to France
Niue 1,500 Access to New Zealand
Pitcairn Islands 50 Access to New Zealand
Samoa 179,000 1,100 annual quota for access to New Zealand
Tokelau 1,400 Access to New Zealand
Tonga 104,000  
Tuvalu 10,000  
Wallis and Futuna 13,484d Access to France

a: Estimates derived July 2009 unless otherwise specified

b: Estimates derived January 2008

c: Estimates derived August 2007

d: Estimates derived July 2008

Source: UNPDDESA 2009; Ware 2005

Conclusion

Strategies targeting the vulnerabilities discussed in this paper are a necessary element of combatting trafficking in persons, and transnational crime more generally, in the Pacific Island region. These include a focus on domestic, as well as transnational trafficking in persons, local specialised anti-trafficking legislation and law enforcement support, responding to the diversity of offending related to this crime (including legal and illegal people movements to exploit them in legal and illegal industries) and tackling contextual factors that enable this crime; for example:

  • weaknesses in immigration laws;
  • corruption in related agencies; and
  • strengthening community vigilance and policing.

There are indications of good practice and successful initiatives in place, some of which have been noted in this paper. One challenge will be to build up these initiatives to a region-wide scale in order to avoid simply displacing trafficking in persons into areas not targeted by anti-trafficking measures. Further, building the capacities of communities and key non-government sectors to take a stronger role in the prevention and detection of trafficking should be given greater emphasis, particularly given the limited capacity of the state in many parts of the region, and is an area requiring further research and evaluation.

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Jade Lindley is a former Research Analyst from the Global, Electronic and Economic Crime team at the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Laura Beacroft is the Research Manager, Trafficking in Persons Program at the Australian Institute of Criminology.

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