U.S. State Department Reviews Nations' Anti-trafficking Progress
USINFO Staff Writer
Washington – Many countries have made progress in implementing anti-trafficking goals cited in the U.S. State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report, but some nations need to make greater efforts, according to the department's assessment of 39 countries' anti-trafficking programs.
The State Department January 19 released its Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment of nations on the department's special watch list. That list includes countries deemed to warrant special scrutiny of their anti-trafficking efforts, as required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2003.
On the list are countries that have significant human-trafficking problems, have not increased efforts over the last year to stop trafficking, or whose efforts were judged as declining in the most recent State Department report. The interim assessment reviews progress made by these countries between May and November 2006.
Among the 39 countries in the interim assessment, Algeria was reported as having not made any progress, while Djibouti, Mauritania, Togo, Malaysia, Egypt, Libya, Qatar, Argentina, Brazil and Peru were reported to have made “modest,” “limited,” “inadequate” or “minimal” improvements in combating trafficking in persons.
Improved performance was reported for Cambodia, China, Israel, Belize and Bolivia.
THE TIER SYSTEM
Legally mandated to be compiled annually, the June 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report reviewed anti-trafficking efforts in 149 countries and concluded that about 800,000 persons were coerced into human-trafficking schemes over the last year.
The report placed nations in one of four categories based on their efforts to control human trafficking, prosecute those involved and support and assist victims of these crimes. Countries doing the best job are in Tier 1. Tier 2 comprises countries that are demonstrating commitment to address their problems but have not yet achieved international standards.
The Tier 2 “Watch List” includes countries that show signs of digressing to Tier 3, which is the lowest level. Governments that are not complying with minimum anti-trafficking standards and are not making significant efforts to do so receive a Tier 3 ranking. (See related article.)
The 39 countries on the special watch list are countries that either had moved to a higher tier in the 2006 report, were ranked on Tier 2 in the 2006 report but had failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking from the previous year, were placed on Tier 2 because of commitments to carry out additional future actions over the coming year, or had a significant or significantly increased number of trafficking victims.
The interim assessment gauges anti-trafficking progresses, particularly of countries that might be in danger of becoming Tier 3 nations in the June 2007 report. The assessment provides guidance on how to avoid this ranking.
The assessment said many countries continue to make improvements, even the Tier 1 nations. In Malawi, the government continued to prosecute traffickers and conducted training for police officers to learn how to help prevent and stop trafficking. New legislation in Switzerland is helping provide more assistance to trafficking victims. In Singapore, the government implemented new measures aimed at addressing abuses of foreign domestic workers.
However, the assessment said, some countries' efforts to fight trafficking have been inadequate. Even though the government of Djibouti has taken a few steps, like shutting down bars where child prostitution may have occurred, more work is needed. In Malaysia, a 2004 commitment to opening a shelter for trafficking victims remains unfulfilled. Peru also has made some progress, but has shown little effort to implement the recommendations in the 2006 State Department report.
The full text of the interim assessment is available on the State Department Web site.
For more information, see Human Trafficking.