NDAA/WUTMI Address Trafficking Concerns

The Marshall Islands is taking steps that could move the country away from the U.S. Department of States’s Trafficking in Persons “watch list.”  A three day workshop in Majuro entitled “The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) Pacific Regional Response to Human Trafficking” took place from June 28-July 1, wrapping-up with an address by Ambassador Armbruster and presentation of certificates to participants.

Leading the Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI)-organized workshop was Suzanna Tiapula, a State Department sponsored representative from the NDAA’s Human Trafficking Programs and Director of NDAA’s National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse.  Attending the workshop were over 75 members of local law enforcement agencies, the RMI Department of Customs and Immigration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and others.

Following the release of the State Department’s 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report only two weeks earlier, the workshop provided training in how to recognize and prosecute cases of human trafficking.  In addition to listening to Ms. Tiapula’s presentation, workshop participants took advantage of Ms. Tiapula’s extensive knowledge and experience in the area of detecting and prosecuting cases of human trafficking during question and answer sessions.  One outcome of the workshop will be anti-trafficking legislation introduced into the August session of the Nitijela, and another longer term objective will be the creation of two shelters to serve as refuge for trafficked and battered individuals.

The Marshall Islands’ status in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report was downgraded in 2013 to “Tier 2 Watch List” due to a lack of RMI government action to combat human trafficking or promote public awareness about this serious issue in the RMI.