The Anti-Human Trafficking Office which was established two years ago by the President has been planning to raid facilities that are reportedly involved in prostitution.
Anti-Human Trafficking Office investigator Ricklet Antonio said that the raids will be conducted with the help of Bureau of Immigration, Division of Criminal Investigation, Division of Labor, and the customs office as the Anti-Human Trafficking Office alone has limited resources.
“We have been communicating with them since last month. We’ll pick a particular place that has a report and follow up on that one,” Antonio said.
As multiple agencies are working together to tackle the problem of human trafficking and illegal prostitution in Palau, the time availability of these agencies often do not match up, Antonio added.
“We need cooperation from other agencies and so we need their schedule. There is varying time differences and availability so it takes some time to come up with a plan,” Antonio added.
At present the Anti Human Trafficking Office has been dealing with labor trafficking cases of individuals who have come forward to report being trafficked.
According to Antonio, people are often deceived into coming to Palau for work under the promise of a high salary. When they arrive in Palau, the salary is way less than the promised figure.
Although, the immigration office and the labor office happen to keep a tap in the background on the facilities that reportedly carry out illegal activities such as prostitution, Antonio said that the immigration office and the labor office check the tariffs, number of employees, and their salaries.
He added that the data collected shall be complied and as the schedule of other agencies match up, raids will be conducted.
Meanwhile, Immigration Officer Levi Idechong, who has been acting as a liaison to Anti-Human Trafficking office said, “We provide a list of companies and employees to the Anti-Human Trafficking Office and then the officers investigate.”
According Idechong, there is also a labor officer who liaises with Anti-Human Trafficking Office, however the Div. Of Labor hasn’t commented yet.
The 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US places Palau under tier two.
The government agencies have taken efforts to improve the tier two status by creating shelters for the victims of human trafficking and developing a national action plan.
There have been prosecutions for human trafficking as well. Special Assistant to the Minister of Justice Keiden Kintol said, “We are taking efforts and whatever happened in the past, we are improving.” (Eshan Kalyanikar)