Vulnerable Migrants in Papua New Guinea Need Protection

IOM counter-trafficking training in Kainantu, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. © IOM 2015

Interview with Joe Saferius
Technical Cooperation Assistant at the IOM Vulnerable Migrants Assistance
22 April 2015

“Human Trafficking is closer to you than you think but protection exists”

Human trafficking takes many forms involving coercion, deceit and exploitation. IOM recently met a victim and this is his story. The witness explained that two years ago he worked in Henganofi in Eastern Highlands Province with nine other people digging the ground in search of gold with the promise of receiving a Land Cruiser each. It was, as is common in the region, a verbal agreement based on good faith and trust in the contractor. After three months of intense hard work from sunrise to sundown, a 20 meter deep tunnel was dug and two “hair conditioner containers” were filled with gold nuggets and given to the contractor who paid the workers ten kina each, and later vanished without ever meeting his contractual obligations of compensating the workers with the promised vehicles.

What does IOM do when a case of human trafficking is identified? It provides advice, support and strengthens the capacity of policy makers, law enforcement agencies judicial bodies and NGOs to identify trafficking cases, act on them, and prevent people from becoming a victim of human trafficking. IOM as part of its outreach and capacity building program regularly conducts training in specialized areas like human trafficking to reach civil society, specialized agencies, policy makers and judicial bodies to identify people at risk, and support and raise the capacity of the different organizations involved in this field.

It works in collaboration with partner agencies such as the Salvation Army which organized a one week workshop in Kainantu in Eastern Highlands Province on 13th April 2015 where Joe Saferius, Technical Cooperation Assistant at the IOM Vulnerable Migrants Assistance Unit presented the IOM component on human trafficking and people smuggling. One of the main purposes of these exercises is to explain what human trafficking means, a broad definition which entails the following: “Human Trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, transferring, harboring or receipt of persons by threat, force, coercion, deception or the giving and receiving of payments or benefits to have control over another person for the purpose of exploitation including prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, slavery and other similar practices”. The witness met the definition of "victim of human trafficking" because he underwent forced labour and the following three elements were met: the act (recruitment), means of recruitment (deception) and forced labour (exploitation).

Victims of trafficking are protected by law. In 2013 the Parliament of Papua New Guinea passed the “Criminal Code Amendment Act” and on 30 June 2014 the Parliament gazetted the “Trafficking in Persons and People Smuggling” legislation, the first counter-trafficking legislation making smuggling and trafficking in persons a criminal offence in the country and creating a legal base to protect victims.

One needs to know that legal protection exists. If you think you are a potential victim of human trafficking or you have witnessed an act of human trafficking, please call the IOM “Stop human trafficking” toll-free hotline: 7100-7777 for further assistance.


By Beatriz Muñoz Girardengo, IOM Papua New Guinea


IOM reaching out to the people with the “Stop human trafficking” toll-free hotline: 7100-7777 to stop potential victims of human trafficking. © IOM 2015