By: L.N. Reklai

July 5, 2017 (Ngerulmud, Palau) Once again, Palau’s leadership are questioning the U.S. Department of State Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report after the 2017 report came out listing Palau on Tier 2 category.

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Questions of where the information came from, who reported such information and why Palau remains in this category were posed during the Senate Special Session on Wednesday.

2017 TIP Report states, “Official complicity plays a role in facilitating trafficking. Government officials—including labor, immigration, law enforcement, and elected officials—have been investigated for complicity during previous reporting periods.”

In 2012 it cites the conviction of a Palauan sitting senator, Senator Hokkons Baules case. The case involved nine alleged trafficking victims, using a labor law violation of unlawful wage deductions and penalties that lead to an imposed sentence of only 90 days imprisonment.  According to same report, he has since then been blacklisted by Philippine government from employing their citizens.

The reports for each year cite other government officials such as Immigration officers, Labor officers, police, governor and others who were given light sentences or probation as penalties for human trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor.

The report accuses Palau of downplaying the importance of anti-trafficking efforts.  It notes that court give very lenient sentences, and that government files lesser charges carrying minimal sentences instead of filing the based on the Anti-Trafficking law that carry more stringent penalties.

Palau, Singapore, Japan join many other countries in the world on Tier 2 ranking.  Philippines, US, UK and others are on the Tier 1 ranking.

Palau has consistently been ranked as Tier 2 country since 2010.  It has always been called a “destination country”, a place trafficked persons are taken to. Being ranked as Tier 2 means that the country is taking steps to address trafficking but is not aggressive enough to meet US Trafficking Victims Protection of 2000 minimum standards.

TIP Report is a program of the US Department of State where they use such report as means of pushing countries to comply or implement strong anti-people trafficking laws. [/restrict]