Palau remains on the Tier 2 of the Trafficking in Persons Report released by the US State Department in June while continuing to make significant efforts to eliminate trafficking but still lacks standards in many key areas.
Palau is one of the areas that is evaluated by the US and the nations efforts are ranked into four tiers by ((Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3), with Tier 1 being the best and Tier 3 the worst.
The report said Palau has made efforts to suppress human trafficking including, acceding to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, conducting more campaigns to raise awareness of human trafficking, and providing victims with temporary employment placements.
However the efforts are not enough to raise Palau’s ranking, with the report citing that there is still lack of minimum standards implemented in tackling human trafficking.
“However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government remained without standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral to services, leading to insufficient identification and protection services.”
The report also said human trafficking efforts are hindered by recurring issues including officials complicity in facilitating trafficking.
Authorities have investigated government officials—including labor, immigration, law enforcement, and elected officials—for complicity in trafficking crimes.
The report recommended the need for Palau to increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including complicit officials, under trafficking laws and sentence traffickers to adequate penalties, which should involve significant prison terms.
It recommended that Palau also amend the anti-trafficking laws that provides more teeth by removing sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses.
Palau , according to the report, should also create and implement a system to proactively offer foreign trafficking victims job placements and work visa extensions.
The report also highlighted the government’s weak efforts in protecting its victims which usually leads to “ foreign migrant workers’ reluctance to complain to authorities out of fear that such complaints would result in job termination and deportation.”
In the past five years, human trafficking in Palau usually involves foreign victims which are reportedly offered high jobs in exchange of thousands of dollars in recruitment fees.
These workers accept jobs in domestic service, agriculture, restaurants, or construction.
“But, upon arrival, traffickers exploit some in conditions substantially different from what had been presented in contracts or recruitment offers, and some become trafficking victims.”
“ Women from the Philippines and China are recruited to work in Palau as waitresses or clerks, but traffickers exploit some in sex trafficking in karaoke bars or massage parlors. Foreign workers on fishing boats in Palauan waters also experience conditions indicative of human trafficking”
The report also cites Official complicity plays a role in facilitating trafficking. Authorities have investigated government officials—including labor, immigration, law enforcement, and elected officials—for complicity in trafficking crimes.