A Senate bill is seeking an update of the Anti-People Smuggling and Trafficking Act law to bring it in line with international law and give it more teeth to fight against human smuggling and trafficking
Senate Bill No. 11-73 also calls for an amendment of the law to reflect the “true heinousness of human smuggling and trafficking crimes.
“Presently, the Republic’s laws relating to human smuggling, trafficking, and exploitation do not meaningfully differentiate between the degrees of severity involved in human smuggling, trafficking, and exploitation which often results in plea agreements and sentences that do not match the severity of the offense,” the bill said,
The bill also seeks to give more protection and immunity to victims of human smuggling and trafficking.
The bill calls for 10 years imprisonment for any person or persons found committing the crime of human smuggling.
The bill also increases jail terms for any person who makes, obtains, sells, and possesses a fraudulent passport for the purpose of facilitating human smuggling.
The new law, if approved will also give more protection to the identity of the victim of human smuggling and trafficking with the Ministry of Justice given the responsibility to promulgate policies and procedures.
Palau slid down on the US 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report from Tier 1 to Tier 2 Watch List status, according to an earlier annual report issued by the US State Department placed Palau on Tier 2 Watch List as opposed to previous reports of just Tier 2 ranking.
Being on Tier 2 Watch List puts Palau in the position of slipping to Tier 3 status and potentially losing non-humanitarian grant assistance that the country receives from the United States Government.
Should Palau fail to meet the recommended actions of the Report or show efforts to comply, it will fall to Tier 3, after which the United States can impose sanctions.