By EDDIE OSIFELO
THE Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration has welcomed the $4.6 million European Union funded project to combat People in Trafficking (PIT) and Gender Based Violence in the Solomon Islands.
The project “Strengthening the Capacity of Civil Society Organisations in Solomon Islands to Prevent Trafficking in Persons and Gender Based Violence and to Protect Survivors.”
It will build the capacity of partner organisations, including the National Council of Women and the Guadalcanal, Makira and Malaita Provincial Councils for Women, to strengthen prevention of TIP and GBV, and to support survivors in accessing coordinated and effective protective services.
International Organisation of Migration is the implementing agency of the project which runs from March 2022 to March 2024.
Speaking during the launching of the project recently in Honiara, Director of Immigration, Christopher Akosawa said this project is a welcome addition to complement their work at the Department of Immigration.
He said the Solomon Islands Immigration Division within the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration is the primary entity dealing with migration, and it includes officials dedicated to counter-trafficking and smuggling.
“Human Trafficking is a global issue affecting vulnerable people around the world, including people in Solomon Islands. Solomon Islands is a source, transit, and destination country for internal and transnational trafficking of people for sexual and labour exploitation.
“For example, fishermen from southeast Asian countries have reported situations indicative of labour trafficking, including non-payment of wages, severe living conditions, violence, and limited food supply,” he said.
In addition, Akosawa said local communities, living close to extractive sectors, have reported cases of young women and girls being forced into domestic servitude and sexual exploitation by men working in local camps.
He said Solomon Island children are also at risk to sexual exploitation and forced labour within the country, particularly near foreign logging camps, on foreign and local commercial fishing vessels, and at hotels, casinos, nightclubs, and other entertainment establishments.
However, Akosawa said in recent years, the Government of Solomon Islands has been making significant efforts to combat human trafficking, guided by the Solomon Islands National Action Plan Against Human Trafficking and People Smuggling (2020-2025). Strengthening the four Ps of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnership.
“Speaking as a focal point for human trafficking, and a key member of the Anti-Human Trafficking Advisory Committee, a multi-stakeholder coordinating group comprised of both Government and civil society bodies aiming to prevent and respond to cases of Trafficking in Persons.
“The project has already begun supporting key aspects of our work. Including: supporting implementation of activities in the Trafficking in Persons and People Smuggling National Action Plan (2020-2025), coordination support to the quarterly meetings of the Anti-Human Trafficking Advisory Committee, as a continuation of support from the previously funded European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights phase one, as well as finalising the National Communications Strategy for the Prevention of Human Trafficking,” he said.