Seychelles upgraded to Tier 1 in US' Trafficking in Persons report
The report is recommending expanding the availability of interpretation services, especially for Bengali and Hindi as many of the migrant workers are from India and Bangladesh. (Joe Laurence)
Seychelles has been upgraded to Tier 1 on the 23rd annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released by the United States Department of State last week.
The TIP report assesses the anti-trafficking efforts of 188 governments around the world, including Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
Tier 1 on the TIP means fully compliant with the minimum standards for the elimination of severe forms of trafficking in persons.
According to the report, Seychelles was upgraded because the government made key achievements to do so during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity.
"These achievements included convicting the most traffickers reported in a single year; prosecuting more trafficking cases; increasing funding for victim services, and officially opening and providing services to survivors at the country's first anti-trafficking shelter," said the TIP report.
The report said that 10 trafficking cases were investigated in 2022, one for sex trafficking and nine for labour trafficking, compared with 24 investigations in 2021. Seychelles' Courts convicted 14 labour traffickers – the most convictions ever reported in a single year – compared with two convictions in 2021.
"Courts sentenced all 14 traffickers to 15 years imprisonment under the 2014 anti-trafficking law; however, the government deported 11 traffickers, foreign nationals from Iran, prior to serving their sentences. Courts ordered traffickers to pay one victim SCR500,000 ($38,850). The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes, however, some reports of low-level official complicity in trafficking crimes persisted," it added.
The Seychelles government also increased victim protection efforts and provided various services and referrals to care for all identified victims, including medical care, shelter, and repatriation assistance for foreign victims.
Additionally, Seychelles increased efforts to prevent trafficking but "did not have effective policies or laws regulating or providing oversight for labour recruiters; however, the government reported investigating fraudulent recruiters."
The report recommended some priority areas.
These include expanding the availability of interpretation services, especially for Bengali and Hindi, available to law enforcement, courts, and victim service providers.
It also recommends allocating adequate funding and resources for victim services, including to the Trafficking in Persons Fund and to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, which should involve significant prison terms.
The TIP Report is the U.S. government's principal diplomatic tool to guide relations with foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world's most comprehensive resource for governmental anti-trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. government's commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue.