What is Trafficking in Persons?

Trafficking in Persons sometimes goes by the common name of Human Trafficking and is defined as the process of recruitment and transportation of an individual from their community or country of origin to a destination, through the use of deception or force or any other means set out in Sections 208C and 208D of the PNG Criminal Code Act 1974, for the purposes of exploitation.

  • Human Trafficking is sometimes referred to as a modern form of slavery.
  • It is a serious crime and global phenomenon involving the violation of an individual’s basic human rights.

The table below illustrates the main elements of the Criminal Offence of Human Trafficking in PNG;

  Elements of the Human Trafficking Offence

The Act

(What is done)

Recruitment, Transportation, Transfer, Harbouring or Receipt of persons

The Means

(How it is done)

Threats or use of force, Coercion, Fraud, Deception, Abuse of power or vulnerability or Giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim

The Purpose

(Why it is done)

Exploitation, including: Forcing a person into Prostitution; Sexual exploitation; Forced labour or services; Slavery or similar slavery practices (including domestic servitude); Removal of organs
Who are the Offenders?

A person who commits the crime of human trafficking is often called a “Human Trafficker”.

  • Human Traffickers seek out vulnerable people to exploit for financial gain using false promises, coercion or force.
  • Human Traffickers are a diverse group and include a wide range of criminals working on many different levels, including; individuals, small criminal groups or large-scale organised crime networks.
  • Human Traffickers can even exist within the family unit. Human trafficking can occur within a family in instances where a family decides to exploit another family member.
Who are the Victims?
  • There is no standard description of a trafficked person or victim. Victims should not be generalised and assumptions should not be made about how a victim will react to their situation. Each Victim has a different story, a unique experience, and a different response and perception on what has happened to him or her.
  • In Section 208B of the PNG Criminal Code Act 1974 a Trafficked Person is defined as victim of the crime of Human Trafficking.

    While there is no “typical” definition of a trafficked person, victims may share some common characteristics. Some of the following characteristics are noted by law enforcement officers and service providers when they encounter victims of Human Trafficking.

    Identifying a Victim of Human Trafficking

    Physical Indicators Emotional Indicators

    Appearance of extreme exhaustion (dark

    circles under the eyes or puffy eyes, slow

    body movements)

    Feeling afraid, ashamed, embarrassed,


    Ashen complexion Feeling responsible/ or at fault
    Appearance of malnourishment

    Feeling anxious, nervous, worried

    depressed, confused

    Signs of physical abuse (bruises, black

    eyes, burns, scars)

    Re-experiencing trauma through dreams,

    thoughts, or daily triggers (PTSD)

    Appearance of general poor health (teeth,

    hair, skin)

    Feeling outside of own body or life


    Complaints of stress-related physical


    Avoidance of feelings

    Behavioural Cues Practical Indicators
    Being evasive Not knowing English, Tok Pisin, Motu or any other PNG languages

    Changing story

    Showing anxiety, nervousness

    Not knowing his/her own phone number

    Denying, minimizing or validating


    Lack of passport, identity card, travel

    documents, birth certificate

    Demonstrating submissive behaviour

    May identify him or herself with a false


    Being reluctant to speak or to disagree The person may only provide a first name

    The person may know by heart all the

    information on the passport or

    identification paper but may not be able

    to give specific details or explain


    Person may provide evidence of being unable to move or leave his or her job

The indicators of Human Trafficking in this table is important information, because many times, a person who is victim will never say that they are being trafficked and exploited. Many victims are scared to lay a complaint with Police or tell others because they fear that they may be harmed or a family member may be harmed.

Offenders find ways to isolate victims by taking away their passports or identification documents, isolating them socially, culturally and physically. Many victim are deceived, forced and coerced into the exploitative situations they are in.

Why are people trafficked and exploited?

Human trafficking occurs when a person exploits another person’s situation or condition for the purpose of achieving a personal profit or personal gain. Sometimes this personal gain may not be monetary.

The root causes of human trafficking are extensive and it is considered a multidimensional problem. Some of the potential causes are listed below.

Potential Cause of Human Trafficking

Country of Origin (Point of Recruitment)

(Where potential victims may be found)

Country of Destination (Destination Place)

(Where victims are transported to and exploited)

Universal Factors

- Poverty

- Unemployment

- Lack of Opportunities

- Political and humanitarian crisis

- Situations of armed conflict and oppression

- Gender discrimination

- Lack of access to information and education

- Need for Inexpensive labour in a variety of sectors (agriculture, domestic servitude, etc)

- Demand for women in the sex industry

- Restrictive immigration policies

- Lack of public awareness about human trafficking

- High profits for those in criminal organizations

- the absence of an effective counter trafficking in persons legislation and enforcement 

- Disintegration of social protection schemes


How are people trafficked and exploited?

Human Trafficking happens because the trafficker is motivated to exploit vulnerable people for financial gain.

Exploitation can happen in a number of ways. In PNG the type of exploitation that must occur in order for a case to be positively identified as a Human Trafficking case is provided for by section 208B of the Criminal Code Act 1974.

Listed below are the main types of exploitation in section 208B of the Criminal Code Act 1974.

What Exploitation is in Papua New Guinea
Forced Prostitution Forced labour or services

Organ Removal

Slavery or practices similar to slavery
Forms of Sexual Exploitation

Essentially a victim can be trafficked and exploited in one of these areas which is listed as type of exploitation.

It is important to remember that a victim cannot say that they had been trafficked and exploited unless it is clear that the victim found themselves in one of the types of exploitation in the Exploitation Table.

Common Misconceptions about how people are trafficked and exploited in PNG

Only women and girls are forced into prostitution or forced into providing sexual services.

It is true that in many cases women and girls are more likely to be trafficked and exploited into forced prostitution. However even boys and men can be forced by a trafficker into providing sexual services.

Only females can be exploited for their labour and forced to work in the labour and service industry

This assumption is also untrue, because there are many reported PNG cases

[1] DJAG 2015-2018 Case data 


What are the consequences of Human Trafficking?

The consequences of human trafficking are wide-ranging and diverse, which may affect victims and the countries concerned in various ways.

• For countries of origin and destination, consequences of human trafficking may include an increase

in irregular migration.

A second consequence may be the increased presence of organized crime, engaged in diverse illegal activities including drugs, theft, the sexual exploitation of women and criminal and other criminal activities.

• For victims, the consequences of human trafficking can be exponential.

The first consequence being a serious violation to their human rights.

Victims may be exposed to daily hazards including physical and psychological coercion, abuse and routine violence. Given a victims working conditions and environment, victims are also exposed to a variety of serious health risks. The health risks associated with human trafficking reflects the cumulative effects victims often face during the human trafficking process—most victims who are trafficked are exposed to health risks before, during and after the human trafficking process.


DJAG’s roles in Combating Human Trafficking

Under Section 208G of the Criminal Code Act 1974 the Minister for Justice is empowered to make or cause special measures to be taken to assist victims of human trafficking.

Victim Identification

In order to assist a victim, the victim must first be identified, and this is done through a process called Victim of Human Trafficking Identification. One of the  tools used to identifying a victim is called a Victim of Trafficking Assessment or VOT Assessment. You must attend training on Combatting Trafficking in Persons in order to be properly informed on how to conduct a VOT Assessment.

A VOT Assessment is a list of questions that a DJAG officer or any other Law Enforcement or Welfare Officer can ask a potential victim of human trafficking in order to determine if they are a potential Victim in need of assistance.

If a person has been identified as a potential VOT, the officer who is conducting the VOT Assessment must first assess the situation and based on the needs; either refer the matter to the Police, and or refer the victim to a support service.  

The concerned officer must then contact the Legal Policy and Governance Branch (LPG) so that LPG can organise for the potential victim to be represented by a lawyer. In many cases Victims are found committing other crimes which are a direct result of the exploitative situations they were in.

It is vital for everyone to remember that only the Courts can decide if a person is a victim of human trafficking, this is clearly stated in Section 208F of the Criminal Code Act 1974, a person 

will only be immune from Criminal Prosecution if they are able to prove to the Court that they were indeed subject to exploitation. These are matters that the Court will decide on, based on the facts or evidence and the law presented. This is why assisting the potential victim with arranging for support services is very important.

Everyone in our community has a responsibility to ensure that the human rights of a potential victim are upheld in accordance with Section 37 of the Constitution.  

Coordinating and Monitoring the Implementation of the PNG Counter Trafficking in Persons National Action Plan 2015-2020

The Department of Justice and Attorney General is also responsible for chairing the National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee (NAHTC) and coordinating the implementation of the PNG Counter Trafficking in Persons National Action Plan 2015-2020.

The NAHTC is a Government Committee with Non-Government participation that meets within each quarter to discuss national issues related to Combatting Human Trafficking.

How do I Report Human Trafficking Cases and Other Common Questions  

Who do I report a Human Trafficking Case to?

Human Trafficking is an offence under the Criminal Code Act 1974 therefore all complaints should be reported at the nearest Police Station.

When going to the Police Station, remember that any person laying a complaint must prepare a Statement. For questions on how to write a Statement, ask any Police Officer on duty at the nearest Police Station.

The public can also email the National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee (NAHTC) and the Department of Justice and Attorney General through email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to enquire on how to report cases and report suspected cases. Any matters reported to the Department of Justice and Attorney General will be assessed and sent to Police for further investigation.

What type of information do I need to provide to Police when I lay a complaint?

The Statement that you provide to Police should have the following important information;

1.  Your name – since you are the person making the complaint.

      Tip: If you are making a complaint on behalf of a child (anyone under 18 years of age) make sure you let the Duty Police Officer know, and write is in your statement.

If you are minor, ask you parents, a family member or an adult that you trust to help you make your statement. You need to understand that the law in PNG sees you as a child and you still need parental or guardian approval to do many things.

2.  Your contact details.

This is important, so the Investigating Officer can contact you later if they have further questions

   3. The details of the incident:

      Tip: Where the incident took place, the time the incident took place, who was involved, any other important facts or things seen or heard during the incident.

   4.  It is important to sign the statement and put the date when you wrote the statement.

     Tip: If you saw the incident take place then you can write your statement as a story telling Police about what you saw.

Do I really have to go to the Police Station?

It is important for the General Public to know and understand that a compliant must be laid first before any action is taken to investigate a matter. The Police Process in PNG is Complaint Based, and every Investigation and Court Action must have a complainant that starts the process.

Laying a complaint is a formality that everyone must follow, if they want the Police to respond.


Common Questions?

What if I see or hear a report that a person is kidnapping people and removing their organs?

Removal of Organs is a form of Human Trafficking. Organ removal is a form of exploitation defined by Section 208B of the Criminal Code Act 1974 and is a criminal offence in PNG under Section 208C of the Criminal Code Act 1974.

Kidnaping is a criminal offence under Section 353 of the Criminal Code Act 1974 and carries a maximum penalty of a seven year term for anyone who comments the offence.

Any incident of Kidnaping and Human Trafficking needs to be reported to Police.

I am worried about my safety and my family’s safety? Will I be safe if I lay a complaint with Police?

PNG does not have any witness or victim protection program. It is important for anyone intending to lay a complaint with Police to know this. Despite this, reporting matters to Police keeps the community safe and we all have a responsibility to keep our communities safe.

If there is a Human Trafficking case that you are worries about you may speak with a Non-Government Organisation such as the Salvation Army or you may email your information and the details of the incident to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What do I do if I see or know of someone that is being locked up or trapped and isolated and is being forced to do things against their will?

Holding a person again their will and keeping a person isolated or confined is a criminal offence under section 355 of the Criminal Code Act 1974 called Depravation of Liberty.

Depravation of Liberty is suspicious behavior and this can be a potential Human Trafficking case. Report this to the Police.

If the person being hidden is a Foreign National, then call a Migration Officer at the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority (PNG ICA) to report this suspicious incident. More information can be found on the ICA website -

What if I am unsure about whether a case is a Human Trafficking case? Or What if I just want to talk to someone about what I have seen or experienced?

If you are uncertain about whether or not a case is a Human Trafficking case, then you can call the Wantok Kaunselim Hotlain on 71508000. The Wantok Kaunselim Hotlain is a toll free confidential counselling service providing information and support for anyone experiencing family and sexual violence in PNG.

Anyone can email the National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee (NAHTC) and the Department of Justice and Attorney General through email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have a question about human trafficking in PNG.  

Who to Contact for Further Information

Further assistance may be obtained by contacting a Legal Officer in the Legal Policy and Governance Branch of the Department of Justice and Attorney General on (+675) 301 2964 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contacting the National Anti- Human Trafficking Committee Secretariat on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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What does DJAG stand for?

Department of Justice & Attorney General.

What is the Vision and Mission for the department?

Vision: To create a Just, Safe and Secure Society for all.

Mission: Delivering excellent legal and justice service to the State and the people of Papua New Guinea.

What basic service does DJAG provide for the country?

DJAG is the central agency of government responsible for Legal and Justice Administration services which impact on individuals, agencies and instrumentalities of the State at all levels of the PNG society.

Does the Office of the State Solicitor and the Office of the Solicitor General play the same roles?

No. They are two separate offices within DJAG and they play different roles.

What is the role of a State litigation lawyer in DJAG?

They appear as advocates for the State in all claims by and against the State in a court of law.

Does DJAG have other offices in other parts of the country?

Yes, in all four regions.