Fight against human trafficking: "Seychelles is leading the way for Africa," says US diplomat
The TIP report was presented to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Roy Fonseka, by the Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Seychelles, Jim Donegan. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles needs to continuously make efforts to address recommendations outlined in the 2023 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released by the United States Department of State, so as to maintain its Tier 1 status.
The statement was made by the head of the National Coordinating Committee against Trafficking in Persons on Monday after Seychelles received a copy of the 2023 Trafficking In Person report.
The TIP report was presented to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Roy Fonseka, by the Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Seychelles, Jim Donegan.
According to the report, Seychelles is among 30 countries to hold Tier 1 status this year.
Preceding the presentation of the report, Donegan outlined the achievements that Seychelles has made.
"Seychelles should be proud of its Tier 1 status. It is the only Tier 1 country in Africa and only two countries, Denmark and Seychelles, were upgraded to Tier 1 in the 2023 report. Once again, Seychelles is leading the way for Africa," said Donegan.
The chairperson of the National Coordinating Committee against Trafficking in Persons, Linda William-Melanie, shared that since the enactment of the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act in 2014, criminalising sex and labour trafficking, Seychelles' TIP rating "has fluctuated from Tier 2, down to Tier 2 watchlist and up again."
She said that "reaching Tier 1 does not mean that we have eliminated all the problems and challenges that we have in Seychelles in regard to trafficking in persons. It shows the progress that Seychelles has made since putting in place this law, and all the efforts being made."
William-Melanie outlined that for the country to maintain this status relevant bodies in Seychelles has to continue making strides to meet the recommendations outlined in the report.
"There are certain decisions that the government will have to make. For example, there is a recommendation stating that we should have a regulation that prevents employers from retaining the passport of migrant workers. There is also a great concern when it comes to workers in SITZ (Seychelles International Trade Zone) and the relations to the Employment Act," said William-Melanie.
Donegan said that the achievements that Seychelles has made 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.
In 2022, courts in Seychelles convicted 14 labour traffickers - the most convictions ever reported in a single year - compared with two convictions in 2021. The courts sentenced all 14 traffickers to 15 years imprisonment under the 2014 anti-trafficking law.
He also said that "the government also increased victim protection efforts and identified 43 trafficking victims, the most victims ever identified in a single year, compared with four victims identified the previous year."
Of the 43 victims identified, traffickers exploited nine in sex trafficking and 34 in labour trafficking. All nine sex trafficking victims were Seychellois girls, and all 34 labour trafficking victims were adult men from Bangladesh and India.