Trafficking in Persons Report
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A Look at the Problem
Over the past year, at least 700,000, and possibly as many as four million men women and children worldwide were bought, sold, transported and held against their will in slave-like conditions. In this modern form of slavery, known as "trafficking in persons," traffickers use threats, intimidation and violence to force victims to engage in sex acts or to labor under conditions comparable to slavery for the traffickers’ financial gain. Women, children and men are trafficked into the international sex trade for the purposes of prostitution, sex tourism and other commercial sexual services and into forced labor situations in sweatshops, construction sites and agricultural settings. The practice may take other forms as well, including the abduction of children and their conscription into government forces or rebel armies, the sale of women and children into domestic servitude, and the use of children as street beggars and camel jockeys.
Traffickers often move victims from their home communities to other areas – within their country or to foreign countries – where the victim is isolated and may be unable to speak the language or be unfamiliar with the culture. In many cases, the victims do not have immigration documents or they have fraudulent documents provided by the traffickers. Most importantly, the victims lose their support network of family and friends, thus making them more vulnerable to the traffickers’ demands and threats. Victims also may be exposed to a range of health concerns, including domestic violence, alcoholism, psychological problems, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Victims in these situations do not know how to escape the violence or where to go for help. Victims may choose not to turn to authorities out of fear of being jailed or deported, especially because the governments of some countries treat victims as criminals. In other countries, there is no protection for victims who come forward to assist in the prosecution of traffickers.
Traffickers recruit and find potential victims in a number of ways. Traffickers advertise in local newspapers offering good jobs at high pay in exciting cities. They also use fraudulent employment, travel, modeling and matchmaking agencies to lure unsuspecting young men and women into the trafficking networks. In local villages, a trafficker may pose as a "friend of a friend," meet with families and convince parents that their children will be safer and better taken care of by the "friend." Traffickers often mislead parents into believing that their children will be taught a useful skill or trade - but the children end up enslaved in small shops, on farms, or in domestic servitude. Traffickers also promise parents that they will marry their daughters - but the girls are forced into prostitution. In some violent situations, traffickers may kidnap or abduct victims.
The Causes of Trafficking
Economic and political instability greatly increases the likelihood that a country will become a source of trafficking victims. In countries with chronic unemployment, widespread poverty and a lack of economic opportunities, traffickers use promises of higher wages and good working conditions in foreign countries to lure people into their networks. Victims, who want a better life for themselves and their families, are easily convinced by the traffickers’ promises. Civil unrest, internal armed conflict, and natural disasters destabilize and displace populations and, in turn, increase their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. In some countries, social or cultural practices contribute to trafficking. For example, the low status of women and girls in some societies contributes to the growing trafficking industry by not valuing their lives as highly as those of the male population. In other societies, the practice of entrusting poor children to more affluent friends or relatives may lead to abusive and exploitative situations.
In many destination countries, commercial sexual exploitation and the demands for inexpensive labor have increased over the past several decades. Many traffickers who are part of criminal networks involved in other transnational crimes have recognized that they can profit greatly by supplying people to fill these demands. Trafficking does not require a large capital investment and it frequently involves little risk of discovery by law enforcement. In addition, trafficking victims, unlike drugs, can be re-sold and used repeatedly by traffickers. In some countries, corruption contributes to the problem of trafficking, where local officials are complicit in trafficking or turn a blind eye.
Trafficking victims are often brought through "transit countries" from a source country to a destination country. Traffickers may use false documents in doing so. Weak border controls and corruption of migration officials also may further facilitate the transit of victims.
Given the nature of trafficking and its often hidden face, it is extremely difficult to develop accurate statistics on the extent of the problem. According to a U.S. Government estimate based on 1997 data, 700,000 persons, mainly women and children, are trafficked across national borders worldwide each year. Other global estimates of the number of victims trafficked annually range from approximately one to four million. According to an International Organization for Migration 1997 estimate, the number of victims trafficked both internally and across national borders is four million. The United States is principally a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons. According to a 1997 estimate, some 50,000 women and children are trafficked annually for sexual exploitation into the United States.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000
In October 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (Division A of Public Law 106-386)(the "Act") was enacted to combat trafficking, to ensure the just and effective punishment of traffickers and to protect victims. The Act added new crimes, strengthened pre-existing criminal penalties, afforded new protections to trafficking victims, and made available certain benefits and services to victims of severe forms of trafficking. With this comprehensive approach to the problem, the Act created significant mandates for several federal government agencies, including the Departments of State, Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services and the U.S. Agency for International Development. One of the State Department’s responsibilities is the annual submission of a report to Congress on the status of severe forms of trafficking in persons; this is the second such report. The Act’s definition of "severe forms of trafficking in persons" is in the following box, as are its definitions of other terms that are elements of that definition. For the purpose of this report, the term "trafficking" refers to "severe forms of trafficking in persons" as defined in the Act.
United States’ Efforts
The U.S. Government condemns trafficking in persons and remains firmly committed to fighting this scourge and protecting the victims who fall prey to traffickers. The U.S. Government has taken numerous steps to enhance its efforts to monitor and combat trafficking, including the annual drafting of this report.
Pursuant to the Act, President Bush established the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This Task Force is chaired by the Secretary of State and is made up of the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Task Force’s responsibilities include coordination of the implementation of the Act as well as assisting the Secretary of State in the preparation of this report. The Task Force held its first meeting, chaired by Secretary Powell, in February 2002.
As authorized by the Act, the Department of State established the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in October 2001. The Trafficking Office leads the development and implementation of our international engagement on trafficking in persons and provides assistance to the Task Force. It also prepares reports and analyses on trafficking, coordinates international programs to prevent trafficking and to aid victims, and conducts outreach with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations. In addition, other federal agencies represented on the Task Force provide detailees to the Trafficking Office in order to strengthen interagency coordination and assist with Task Force activities. More information about the Trafficking Office can be found on its website at www.state.gov/g/tip/.
The efforts of the Trafficking Office are guided by a legislative mandate to combat and eradicate human trafficking. Given the magnitude and urgency of this task, the Trafficking Office’s priorities are to:
The Department of State has taken numerous steps to craft and implement an overall strategy to combat trafficking worldwide within the last year. The State Department is assisting in the coordination of anti-trafficking policy and programs among federal agencies, international organizations, foreign governments and NGOs worldwide. This report, addressing 89 countries that were found to have a significant number of trafficking victims, is the most comprehensive international anti-trafficking review issued by any single government.
Leveraging the attention generated by its Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department continuously engages with foreign government officials to promote cooperation and enhanced anti-trafficking campaigns, both regionally and on a per-country basis. The Department also continued to expand reporting on trafficking in persons in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The Trafficking Office is working with other U.S. Government agencies that are pursuing aggressive policies to prevent trafficking, to prosecute traffickers and to protect and assist victims domestically and internationally. Various U.S. Government agencies have worked together to create informational brochures on trafficking for victims, NGOs and law enforcement personnel; to conduct training programs for U.S. Government officials; to issue regulations and establish guidelines regarding the protection and assistance for trafficking victims; and to fund anti-trafficking activities in the United States and throughout the world. A chronicle of U.S. Government efforts to implement the Act is contained in the document "Overview of the Administration’s Implementation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act," which can be found on the Trafficking Office’s website.
The U.S. Government supported over 110 anti-trafficking programs in approximately 50 countries in fiscal year 2001. The types of assistance include the following: economic alternative programs for vulnerable groups; education programs; training for government officials and medical personnel; development or improvement of anti-trafficking laws; provision of equipment for law enforcement; establishment or renovation of shelters, crisis centers, or safehouses for victims; support for voluntary and humane return and reintegration assistance for victims; and support for psychological, legal, medical and counseling services for victims provided by NGOs, international organizations and governments. The Department’s priority is to help the governments of countries in Tiers 2 and 3 that are eligible for assistance and committed to combating trafficking. (See pages 10 - 12 for an explanation of tier listings.)
The State Department has actively sought out the crucial cooperation of NGOs, given their invaluable practical experience. It would be challenging to implement successfully an on-going international campaign to combat trafficking without their partnership. Within this last year, the Trafficking Office has hosted numerous meetings and briefings with NGOs to solicit their expertise and recommendations. Moreover, in preparation for this report, the Trafficking Office asked over 140 NGOs to provide information on trafficking practices and programs throughout the world. Carrying out the legislative mandate to engage NGOs, the Trafficking Office invites further suggestions to enhance NGO cooperation.
Trafficking has reached staggering dimensions around the globe. Solving this problem and bringing relief to its many victims will be possible only through cooperative efforts. This cooperation must occur bilaterally and multilaterally among various governments, but also between governments and civil society, including NGOs. It must involve governmental coordination on national counter-trafficking strategies, as well as coordination at a local level. Destination countries must work with transit and source countries to stem the flow of trafficking; source countries must work not only to prevent trafficking, but to help with the reintegration of trafficking victims back into their home societies. The United States’ international engagement is focused on bolstering international political will to combat the issue, increasing a dialogue among countries to identify ways to expand national, regional and international efforts to address trafficking, and strengthening nations’ efforts to fight trafficking.
The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and was adopted by the UN General Assembly in November 2000, is an important new tool to facilitate international cooperation. Governments that sign and ratify this Protocol make a commitment to criminalize trafficking, protect its many victims, and prevent future trafficking. To date, the United States and 104 other countries have signed the Protocol.
Two other international
instruments that address the sale of and trafficking in children have also
recently been adopted – International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 182
concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the
Worst Forms of Child Labour (which the United States ratified in December
1999), and the Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Sale of
Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (which the United States
signed in July 2000). ILO Convention 182 requires that countries take steps to
provide children removed from the worst forms of child labor, such as
prostitution and pornography, with access to free basic education. The Protocol
requires that states criminalize prostitution and pornography with respect to
children under the age of 18. The U.S. Government engages with its
co-signatories of ILO Convention 182 to ensure that government efforts against
child exploitation remain sustained and significant.
This is the second annual report to Congress, as required by the Act, on the status of severe forms of trafficking in persons worldwide. It covers the time period of April 2001 through March 2002. In this year’s report, several countries have moved from their placement in last year’s report, as discussed on pages 12 through 13. Some countries are not listed in this year’s report because of a lack of reliable information, as discussed on pages 11 - 13. With this annual report, the United States seeks to bring international attention, both of governments and the general public, to the horrific practice of trafficking in persons. This report serves as a major diplomatic tool for the U.S. Government, which hopes that other governments will view this as an instrument for continued dialogue, encouragement for their current work, and an instrument to help them focus their future work on prosecution, protection, and prevention programs and policies. After the release of this year’s report, the Department will continue to engage in discussions with governments about the content of the report to help strengthen cooperative efforts to eradicate trafficking. The Department will use the information gained in the compilation of this year’s report to target assistance programs more effectively and to work with countries that need help in combating trafficking. Finally, the Department hopes the report will be a catalyst for government efforts to combat trafficking in persons around the world, so that this degrading practice will be eliminated.
To lead the State Department’s efforts in preparing this report, the Trafficking Office assembled a panel with staff from the Trafficking Office and other U.S. government agencies. The panel included representatives from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the intelligence community and the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and it received counsel from the Office of the Legal Adviser.
The State Department obtained information from a variety of sources in preparing this report. It solicited information from U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. These diplomatic posts reported on the extent of trafficking in their host countries and the host governments’ efforts to address the problem. Their reports reflected discussions with host governments, local and international NGOs, international organizations, immigration officials, police, journalists, academics and victims, in addition to reviews of government, press, and NGO reports. Along with these reports from posts, the report panel also reviewed information from other sources including, but not limited to, other U.S. Government agencies, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Protection Project, the media, academics and foreign governments. The panel also took into consideration information learned by the Trafficking Office staff in numerous meetings with foreign government officials, NGOs and international organizations. Finally, the Trafficking Office established an email address, <email@example.com>, for NGOs to report information on government progress in addressing trafficking, provide updates on the scope of the problem, and focus attention on particular obstacles they encounter in their work.
To compile this year’s report, the Department used the same two-step approach it employed for last year’s report. First, the report panel determined whether or not a country is "a country of origin, transit, or destination for a significant number of victims" of trafficking. In making this determination, the panel required credible reporting that the country was a country of origin, transit or destination for a number of victims on the order of one hundred or more, the same threshold that was applied in the 2001 report. Only those countries that reach this threshold are included in the report.
As a second step, the report panel placed each of the countries that are included on the report into one of the three lists, described here as tiers, mandated by the Act. This placement is based upon governments’ efforts to combat trafficking. In accordance with the Act, countries whose governments fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking were placed in Tier 1. Countries whose governments do not fully comply with those standards were placed in Tier 2 if they are making "significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance" with the standards, or in Tier 3 if they are not. Each tier encompasses a wide range of countries.
The Act defines "minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking", which are summarized as follows:
The Act also sets out seven criteria that "should be considered" as indicia of the fourth point above, "serious and sustained efforts to eliminate trafficking." Summarized, they are:
The Act also states three factors that the Department is to consider in determining whether a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with these minimum standards. Summarized, these considerations are: 1) the extent of trafficking in the country; 2) the extent of governmental noncompliance with the minimum standards, particularly the extent to which government officials have participated in, facilitated, condoned, or are otherwise complicit in trafficking; and 3) what measures are reasonable to bring the government into compliance with the minimum standards in light of the government’s resources and capabilities.
The governments of countries in Tier 1 fully comply with the Act's minimum standards. Such governments criminalize and have successfully prosecuted trafficking, and have provided a wide range of protective services to victims. Victims are not jailed or otherwise punished solely as a result of being trafficked, and they are not summarily returned to a country where they may face hardship as a result of being trafficked. In addition, these governments sponsor or coordinate prevention campaigns aimed at stemming the flow of trafficking.
The governments of countries in Tier 2 do not yet fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. Some are strong in the prosecution of traffickers, but provide little or no assistance to victims. Others work to assist victims and punish traffickers, but have not yet taken any significant steps to prevent trafficking. Some governments are only beginning to address trafficking, but nonetheless have already taken significant steps towards the eradication of trafficking.
The governments of countries in Tier 3 do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. Some of these governments refuse to acknowledge the trafficking problem within their territory. On a more positive note, several other governments in this category are beginning to take concrete steps to combat trafficking. While these steps do not yet reach the appropriate level of significance, many of these governments are on the path to placement on Tier 2.
According to the Act, beginning with the 2003 report, countries in Tier 3 will be subject to certain sanctions, principally termination of non-humanitarian, non-trade-related assistance. Consistent with the Act, such countries also would face U.S. opposition to assistance (except for humanitarian, trade-related, and certain development-related assistance) from international financial institutions, specifically the International Monetary Fund and multilateral development banks such as the World Bank. All or part of the bilateral and multilateral assistance sanctions may be waived upon a determination by the President that the provision of such assistance to the country would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States. The Act provides that the President shall waive those sanctions when necessary to avoid significant adverse effects on vulnerable populations, including women and children.
This report provides a brief narrative for each country that has been placed in a tier. The narratives do not include extensive details or comprehensive information about the countries or their governments. Instead, they provide an overview of the trafficking situation in the country and the government’s efforts to combat trafficking. The first paragraph of each narrative describes the scope and nature of the trafficking problem in the country, and thus indicates the reasons the country has been included in the report. The second paragraph describes some of that government’s efforts to combat trafficking, and thus illustrates the reasons the country has been placed in Tier 1, 2 or 3 of the report. This second paragraph addresses government efforts in several areas: first in the areas of law enforcement and prosecution of traffickers, then protection of trafficked victims, and finally prevention of trafficking.
Establishing task forces and action plans are methods that some countries have successfully used to create goals and benchmarks for their anti-trafficking efforts. However, these plans and task forces, on their own, are not weighted heavily in assessing country placements. Rather, the report focuses on concrete efforts that governments have undertaken to combat trafficking. Similarly, the report does not weigh heavily laws that are in draft form or that have not been enacted, because they cannot yet be used to combat trafficking. In some cases, task forces, action plans or draft laws have been mentioned in a country narrative as examples of a positive attitude, or preliminary steps that the government is beginning to take to combat trafficking.
In a few countries, armed forces beyond the government’s control forced children to become soldiers or laborers, or to provide sexual services to rebels. In such countries, the government may be unable to take many steps, along the lines of the Act’s "minimum standards," to combat the trafficking problem. This report categorizes such countries primarily based on what steps, if any, their governments have taken to assist these victims. These considerations are reflected in the country narratives.
The Department appreciates the response to last year’s report, including reactions from the Congress, press, foreign governments, and NGOs. Much of that response was positive and contributed to an increasing awareness of the issue of trafficking in persons. Mindful of the statutory requirement for the report and of its ultimate goal to help eliminate trafficking in persons, we carefully considered suggestions that were made about last year’s report. For example, we took additional steps to address the link between corruption and trafficking and the report includes more detailed information on corruption. Similarly, we strove to increase the consistency of the country narratives.
Some countries were not included in the 2001 report or this report. Their omission should not be construed necessarily as a positive result of such countries’ efforts to eliminate trafficking in persons. Instead, their omission simply may indicate that, at the time of the report’s preparation, the Department did not have credible information that provided evidence of a significant number of victims of trafficking. As noted above, trafficking is an underground criminal activity, and, as such, information about it is difficult to obtain. The State Department received reports of possible trafficking in many countries that do not appear in this report. The Department cross-checked all reports with our diplomatic missions abroad and other sources. If the Department determined that the information received was not reliable or did not adequately document a significant number of victims, the country was not placed in the report. If additional information becomes available, such countries may be included in a future report. A few examples of the many countries in this situation include Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Botswana.
Another difficulty in obtaining information, which mainly affects transit countries, arises from the fact that it may be difficult to distinguish between trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. The mere facilitation of illegal entry into a country is not, on its own, trafficking in persons, although such migrant smuggling may be part of a trafficking operation. Trafficking victims, as they are being moved through transit countries, may not know that they will be forced into prostitution or labor when they arrive in the destination country. Similarly, border patrol or migration officials may recognize illegal entry into or transit through a country but not have information alerting them that the smuggling is part of a trafficking situation. In preparing this year’s report, the Department noted several countries, such as Croatia, that appear to have considerable migrant smuggling, and thus may be transit countries for trafficking. However, for the reasons mentioned above, the Department does not have enough information at this time to include these countries in this year’s report.
The Department has only minimal information about some countries. North Korea is of particular concern, and it is difficult to corroborate anecdotal information about trafficking. Other examples of countries for which minimal information is available are Iraq and Somalia. In such cases we have minimal information because, for example, there is no U.S. diplomatic presence in the country, the society is closed, there is no free press, or few NGOs operate in the country. The Department used all information that could be gathered from available sources about these countries, but our ability to report on them is necessarily limited. We will continue to seek additional information on these countries through other means, while recognizing the difficulty of verification.
Again, countries omitted from this year’s report may be included in future reports on the basis of changed circumstances or new information. The Department, its diplomatic posts around the world, and other U.S. Government agencies will continue to monitor trafficking in all countries, with a special emphasis on those countries that are not in this year’s report but that raise concern for the reasons described above, and will continue to seek new sources of information for future reports. The structure of the new Trafficking Office will enable increased collection of data year-round. The Department also welcomes updates to the information provided here.
Several countries that were not included in the 2001 report appear in this report because of changed circumstances or new information about the number of trafficked victims in those countries. In addition, a few countries that were included in the 2001 report are not in this year’s report. This may indicate either a decrease in the number of trafficked victims to below the "significant" threshold or the availability of new information that caused a reassessment of last year’s finding.
Because the placement of a country in one of the three tiers is based on a determination of that country’s efforts to address trafficking, we closely examined trends and developments in each country over the last year. Several countries increased their efforts to combat trafficking since issuance of the Department’s 2001 report. In some cases, the increased efforts justified moving the country to a higher tier. As an example, South Korea, which has made extraordinary strides since the last report, moved from Tier 3 to Tier 1. Romania and Israel also made great strides in strengthening their efforts, demonstrating a clear commitment to this issue and implementing a wide range of activities to combat the problem. Both have accordingly been moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2. Other countries that moved from Tier 3 in 2001 to Tier 2 this year as a result of improving their anti-trafficking efforts are Albania, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Yugoslavia. Although they do not yet fully comply with the minimum standards, each was determined this year, as a change from last year, to be making significant efforts to do so.
Several other countries that were placed in Tier 2 on the 2001 report improved to the degree that they now fully comply with the minimum standards, and they are in Tier 1 of this year’s report. These countries are the Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, Macedonia and Poland. A small number of countries, whose efforts disappointingly lagged over the last year, dropped from Tier 2 in 2001 to Tier 3 this year.
It is possible for a country to have a high number of trafficked victims and for its government to be making significant efforts even if there are some glaring weaknesses. For example, Thailand and Vietnam are listed in Tier 2 because they do not fully comply with the minimum standards but have made significant efforts to do so, by taking measures to prevent trafficking and protect victims through a variety of efforts such as public awareness campaigns; social and economic development for at-risk individuals; partnering with NGOs, international organizations and foreign governments to train police; and providing services and shelter to victims. However, in both countries, law enforcement is poor due to corruption and complicity by some police and government officials. The governments of Thailand and Vietnam have conducted investigations and prosecuted some traffickers, however, they could and should do much more to end impunity for corrupt officials and increase arrests and prosecutions of traffickers.
Regardless of tier placement, there is more that every country can do. Those countries that have been moved from one tier in last year’s report to a higher tier in this year’s report have particularly demonstrated progress in addressing the problem of trafficking. It is also possible for countries to be downgraded to a lower tier by reducing or limiting their efforts. No country placement is permanent. All countries must maintain and increase their efforts to combat trafficking. Toward its goal of eradicating trafficking globally, the United States will continue to monitor progress throughout the world and work with partners to strengthen international efforts to end this scourge.