Marshalls rejects human trafficking issues
The Marshalls says human trafficking is not a major issue despite a US report ranking it amongst the worst in the world.
The Marshall Islands government says human trafficking is not a prominent issue despite a US report condemning the country's record.
In June the US Department of State released its 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report which says the Marshalls does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.
Among the criticism was forced prostitution of women and girls in the Marshalls who are recruited by foreign business owners to engage with crews of foreign fishing vessels that dock in Majuro.
But the Marshall's Foreign Minister John Silk told Daniela Maoate-Cox the criticism needs to be more specific and the US should offer help.
John Silk says he would like the US government to share its information with the Marshall's government to clarify the problems identified in the report.
JOHN SILK: We have always been addressing these issues. It's a matter of, you know, we had hoped that the United States would come back to us and tell us what exactly they see that we haven't done and share with us what they think we should be doing and help us out. Help us out and bring some experts and technical people to assist us.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: To be fair the report does note that some of your anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts have been increased and it does note that the national plan has been drafted as well but has yet to be approved. It's just saying that the effort so far hasn't been good enough and some of the things it's calling for are increased efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offences and to punish traffickers. Do you have the available resources to achieve this?
JS: We can't, no. Obviously we need additional assistance to help us out. If they feel that we're short on resources then they should come up with some suggestions on how we can meet our commitments and how we can accomplish our goal and provide the resources.
DM-C: Do you think you are short on resources? Do you need more help?
JS: Well I think in the field of prosecution we need more help and we need more help in terms of investigation and in fact we are looking towards upgrading and getting some help in assisting our police force, some technical help in assisting our police force and in fact we are contemplating requesting some assistance from the government of Australia. Even today I might be sending off letters to the government of Australia. We have only five, as far as I know, five attorneys in the General's office and we working towards that. It's one of the proposed amendments to our constitution, to set up a special prosecutors office that will address some of these issues.
DM-C: So is trafficking a major issue in the Marshall Islands?
JS: It's not so much a major issue. We know, we suspect that there might be some trafficking following transhipment, boats that come in for transhipment and fisheries related activities, but we don't feel that is really a prevalent thing here, we don't see it that way.
DM-C: Well the US Department of State sees it differently so why have they come to a different conclusion?
JS: Well that's the thing, if the Department of State sees things differently, please tell us. Tell us what they see that we don't see and share with us that kind of information. How they conclude and make their assessments we don't know but we'd like to have them share those with us so that we can help us see things differently.
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