Marshall Islands raises sex trafficking concerns with United States


Tue 10 Dec 2013

Marshall Islands
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MAJURO, Marshall Islands --- The Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak has called on the United States to help his country fight sex trafficking rather than simply name and shame it.

The Pacific nation was listed in the US Trafficking in Persons Report 2013 as a place where women from East Asia are forced into prostitution to service fishing crew members from China and other nations.

Loeak told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program his nation has not been able to verify such statements.

“We've voiced our concern from the beginning,” he said.

“If they're going to do anything about it then they should be able to help us, so we can help them. Maybe provide training, or whatever would be helpful to solve the problem, instead of just passing our name in the international community.”

The US Department of State report, released in June, says women are recruited with the promise of legitimate work, but are then forced into the sex slave trade.

It says the Marshall Islands is not taking sufficient steps to identify and protect victims of sex trafficking, although admits the government is making significant steps in the right direction.

The US recommends the Marshall Islands pass new anti-trafficking laws and increase efforts to investigate the claims.

The Marshall Islands has previously dismissed the report as “totally baseless”, and raised the issue again at the 19th Micronesian Chief Executives' Summit, which wrapped up last week.

Loeak also used the Micronesian Summit to call for greater action on climate change, saying the Pacific “bears the brunt” of extreme weather events.

“We are the most vulnerable countries in the world, as was demonstrated by super Typhoon Haiyan, which smashed into Palau and the Philippines last month,” he said

World leaders are expected to adopt a new binding deal to tackle climate change in 2015, with the previous agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, finishing last year.
Loeak is confident a deal will be struck.

“I think we're making headway into 2015, when the world will have to come to a mandatory agreement on climate change.”

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