There is a need for an all-inclusive, multidimensional approach to effectively respond to Human Trafficking. This was highlighted by the Permanent Secretary for Defence Manasa Lesuma at the commemoration of the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons at the Holiday Inn today.
“While the strengthening of internal controls is thus crucial to our overall ability to counter all forms of human trafficking, this issue is one that is cross cutting across government agencies and likewise NGO’s, CSO’s and FBO’s,” Mr Manasa said.
“As you may know, Fiji acceded to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime or more commonly known as the ‘Palermo Convention’ with its three protocols on the 19th of September, 2017.” Mr. Lesuma added that prior to this, our Crimes Act 2009 had already criminalised trafficking in persons into our national laws, paving the way for our first prosecution in 2010.
“This was followed by an amendment to our Immigration Act 2011 which included in Part 5 the trafficking and smuggling of persons. Moreover, our 2013 Constitution further cemented this national priority,” Mr Lesuma said. “Our judiciary is prosecuting more and more cases of all forms of human trafficking, with widely publicised cases in our local media exposing the scourges of this degrading crime.
“This shows that human trafficking exists within the paradise we call home and that we are not immune, as this form of transnational crime also crosses through our borders and more importantly is also orchestrated within Fiji.”
Mr. Lesuma added that whilst men are also susceptible to being trafficked for the purpose of forced labour, statistics reveal that children and women are more vulnerable than male adults.
“For women and girls, it is worse because apart from the demand for their labour, they are also exploited sexually.” Mr. Lesuma acknowledged the efforts of the relevant stakeholders that have been creating awareness and strengthening collaboration to address issues on human trafficking.