A group of Fijian Police Anti-Trafficking Unit training participants present their investigation plan to the plenary group.

After an initial assessment trip in November 2018, Warnath Group experts Albert Moskowitz and Willem Pretorius led two trainings in Suva, Fiji in March 2020.  The first, a five-day training, was an intensive skills-based course designed to develop the skills of members of the Fijian Police Anti-Trafficking Unit (HTU) and related agencies involved in dealing with serious crimes. The second was a three-day training focused on equipping front-line officers with the skills to respond to and identify instances of trafficking.

In the assessment trip, the Warnath Group identified specific areas for improvement in the Fijian effort to combat trafficking in persons, and the recommendations made during that trip were instrumental in shaping the March 2020 trainings.  At this time, the Warnath Group experts were pleased to see that many of the recommendations made during the earlier assessment trip had been adopted and operationalized, including an increase in the staff of the HTU.

During the first training, Mr. Moskowitz and Mr. Pretorius focused on three key aspects of improving the HTU’s capacity: establishing an understanding of the domestic and international definitions of human trafficking, identifying potential instances of human trafficking, and conducting interviews of victims and witnesses in a manner that provides information while being sensitive to victims’ needs.  A significant portion of this training was devoted to helping participants better understand the needs of trafficking victims, with one exercise requiring participants to practice listening while asking open-ended questions of a “witness” (Warnath Group expert) to allow them to practice the skills developed during the training.

Additionally, one module of the training gave participants the opportunity to design investigative plans based on two potential trafficking cases. Participants were tasked with identifying the relevant domestic and international legislation, identify suspects, perform a risk assessment to recognize signs of trafficking, and create a plan to respond to the needs of victims. After completing initial plans in small groups, the entire group worked on a more complex trafficking case to develop an investigative plan.

During the three-day training, there was significant focus on the experiences of participants and the challenges they experienced in responding to instances of trafficking.  These experiences were used to shape the discussion of human trafficking law in Fiji, as well as discussions of how to identify victims of trafficking.  Again, the needs of the victims were centered in the discussion of interview techniques, and the Warnath Group experts stressed the importance of front-line officers in achieving an effective and appropriate national and local responses against human trafficking.  Participants applied and practiced the victim-centered identification skills taught when communicating with potential trafficking victims portrayed by local actors.  To conclude the training, a national expert clarified the process of referring potential trafficking cases to specialist units.

Two participants from each training were selected to serve as ambassadors and continue close communication with the Warnath Group about their anti-trafficking work, providing the Warnath Group opportunities to continue building relationships and providing support.  Additionally, Warnath Group will follow-up with all training participants at six-month intervals following the training dates to learn more about the trainings’ impact and opportunities for further training and assistance. 

These trainings were made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP), and with the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Warnath Group’s Albert Moskowitz discusses building a case with the HTU training participants.

A Fijian proseuctor discusses the Fijian TIP law with the training group.

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