The government maintained weak victim protection efforts and did not take steps to proactively identify victims. Since the government’s identification of four potential trafficking victims in 2015, the government has not identified any victims of trafficking. The government did not develop or employ systematic procedures for victim identification among at-risk groups, such as migrant workers or women in commercial sex. The government had procedures to refer victims of crime, including potential trafficking victims, to an NGO, but did not use the procedures during the year. Due to a lack of formal identification procedures, authorities likely detained, arrested, or deported some unidentified trafficking victims. The public’s distrust of Tongan courts, as well as low levels of understanding of human trafficking, likely contributed to the absence of identified victims. The government continued to provide an unknown amount of funding to an NGO for operations to assist adult female and child victims of crime, including shelter, counseling, and legal services. Although authorities did not identify any victims during the year, adult female and child victims of trafficking were eligible for these services. There were no shelter facilities available to male victims older than 14; however, male counselors were available to assist male victims of any age. Under the immigration act, the principal immigration officer had broad discretionary authority to grant permits to victims to stay in the country for any length of time necessary for their protection. Victims could receive asylum in Tonga if they feared retribution or hardship in their country of origin, though no trafficking victim has ever requested asylum.