UNITED STATES STATE DEPARTMENT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 2015

The US State Department releases is 2015 Trafficking in Persons report.

Every year, the United States Department of State releases an annual report on trafficking in persons (available for download here).

The 384-page report evaluates and places every country into one of three categories based upon the country’s compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act originally signed into law 15 years ago.

The evaluation criteria are the following: (1) the level to which a country’s government lawfully prohibits trafficking in persons; (2) the level to which that government punishes those convicted of trafficking person; (3) the level to which traffickers are punished; and (4) whether that government makes a “serious and sustained” effort to eradicate all forms of trafficking in persons.

Tier 1 countries are those “whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.” Tier 1 countries include the United States, South Korea, and most European countries including the Czech Republic, France, and Macedonia.

Tier 2 countries include those “countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.” The majority of the world’s countries are in Tier 2 and vary, ranging from Afghanistan to Senegal, from Greece to the Philippines.

Tier 2 Watch List are those countries that satisfy the requirements for belonging to Tier 2 but the number of trafficked victims is generally increasing, the governments are unable to provide evidence of increased efforts, however the government has made a commitment to take additional measures in the near future. Tier 2 countries include countries like China, Laos, Qatar, and Ukraine.

Tier 3 countries are classified as those “whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.” Tier 3 countries include Belize, Iran, Russia, and Thailand.

The Market Project is drawn to work in Canada (Tier 1), Uganda (Tier 2), and Myanmar/Burma (Tier 2 Watch List).

Canada, a Tier 1 country, is significantly engaged in preventing and prosecuting human traffickers. Numerous laws exist prohibiting the forced movement of humans for sex, labor, or otherwise. However, trafficking in Canada still exists. According to the report, “women and girls from Aboriginal communities and girls in the child welfare system are especially vulnerable.” The report states that the government could do more to “increase specialized care and reintegration services.”  As previous entries have stated, this is the work to which The Market Project is committed. While it pains us that trafficking still exists even in an advanced country like Canada, we are encouraged that we will be meeting a concrete need to improve Canada’s response to this tragedy.

Uganda is classified as a Tier 2 country. While the government is working hard to prosecute traffickers and disincentivize the trade (a conviction for trafficking carries a minimum sentence of 15 years and sometimes results in life without parole), there are still numerous victims of human trafficking in Uganda. Uganda is a “source, transit, and destination country.” This means that men, women, boys, and girls are trafficking into, out of, and throughout Uganda. Traffickers use individuals for labor and prostitution within the country and will ship them to the Middle East and Asia to work most often in forced labor. Aside from the Ugandan Government’s law enforcement and legal environment, the majority of shelter and rehabilitation work falls on international organizations and NGOs. Like in Canada, we are proud to be able to work in Northern Uganda by providing a safe and trauma-informed workplace for those on their path to holistic recovery and reintegration. The Market Project is looking forward to beginning our first project in Uganda in order to contribute to the big task of renewal.

Myanmar is on the Tier 2 Watch List. While they are not placed in the Tier 3 category, the report slams Myanmar for a pervasive trafficking regime. They were granted Tier 2 Watch List status after the government petitioned and promised more comprehensive legislation and government action to combat trafficking. Most trafficked victims in Myanmar are part of the fishing industry in Southeast Asia or are forced to become child soldiers in part of the ongoing conflict in the ethnic minority regions of the country. Particularly at risk are the Islamic ethnic minority, the Rohingyas (for more information, read The Economist’s recent expose). Burmese men, women, and children are likewise subject to trafficking as they migrate out of or through the country toward the Middle East or other parts of Asia. The Myanmar Government is in the beginning stages of legislating and enabling law enforcement to apprehend traffickers. Only in the last few years has the government released child soldiers from its armies. There is much work to be done. We hope to get in at these beginning stages where there will be the most potential for growth and effective healing to occur. Myanmar has a long road to becoming a Tier 1 country. The Market Project hopes to soon walk alongside men and women who are struggling to piece life back together following their exploitation and trafficking experience.

Secretary of State John Kerry, while speaking at the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains on January 29, 2015 said, “Money may be able to buy a lot of things, but it should never, ever be able to buy another human being.” We at The Market Project are proud to be part of the global struggle to end the tragedy of modern slavery.