Pursuant to section 110(b)(3)(B) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Div. A. of Public Law 106-386), as amended, the Department of State is required to submit to the Congress an interim assessment of the progress made in combating trafficking in persons (TIP) by those countries placed on the Special Watch List in September 2009. The evaluation period covers the six months since the drafting of the June 2009 annual report.
This year, 55 countries are on the Special Watch List. These countries either (1) had moved up a tier in the 2009 TIP Report over the last year’s report; or (2) were ranked on Tier 2 in the 2009 TIP Report, but (a) had a very significant or significantly increasing number of trafficking victims, (b) had failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat TIP from the previous year, or (c) were placed on Tier 2 because of commitments to carry out additional future actions over the coming year, placing them on the “Tier 2 Watch List.” Fifty-two of the 55 countries on the Special Watch List are in the second category – ranked as Tier 2 Watch List, including one country initially ranked as Tier 3 in the June 2009 TIP Report but reassessed as Tier 2 Watch List by the State Department in September 2009 (Swaziland). Attached to this Interim Assessment is an overview of the tier process.
In most cases, the interim assessment is intended to serve as a tool by which to gauge the anti‑trafficking progress of countries that may be in danger of slipping a tier in the upcoming June 2010 TIP Report and to give them guidance on how to avoid a Tier 3 ranking. It is a tightly focused progress report, assessing the concrete actions a government has taken to address the key deficiencies highlighted in the June 2009 TIP Report. The Interim Assessment covers actions undertaken between the beginning of May – the cutoff for data covered in the June TIP Report – and November. Readers are requested to refer to the annual TIP Report for an analysis of large-scale efforts and a description of the trafficking problem in each particular country or territory.
The Department placed each of the countries or territories included in the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report into one of the three lists, described here as tiers, mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as amended (TVPA). This placement reflects an evaluation of a government’s actions to combat trafficking. The Department first evaluates whether the government fully complies with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Countries whose governments do so are placed in Tier 1. For other countries, the Department considers whether their governments made significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. Countries whose governments are making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards are placed in Tier 2. Those countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so are placed in Tier 3. Finally, the Special Watch List criteria are considered and, if applicable, Tier 2 countries are placed on the Tier 2 Watch List.
Tier 1: Countries whose governments fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards.
Tier 2: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is increasing significantly; or
Tier 3: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
As required by the TVPA, in making tier determinations between Tiers 2 and 3, the Department considers the overall extent of human trafficking in the country; the extent of government noncompliance with the minimum standards, particularly the extent to which government officials have participated in, facilitated, condoned, or are otherwise complicit in trafficking; and what reasonable measures the government would have to take to come into compliance with the minimum standards within the government’s resources and capabilities.
The Government of Angola has made progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government has not yet enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and may not do so in the near future as the drafting of anti-trafficking legislation has been entrusted to a commission charged with revising the entire national penal code. Little progress has been made in the government’s ability to protect victims. The Ministry of Interior, however, has measurably improved the capacity of its law enforcement officers to identify trafficking victims. The government increased its efforts to create its first shelter for trafficking victims, and has undertaken its first-ever effort to collect data on trafficking offenses, victims, and prosecutions.
High-ranking officials have publicly supported and encouraged the government’s burgeoning anti-trafficking efforts. The Ministry of Interior and its NGO partners co-funded anti-trafficking seminars for law enforcement, immigration, military, judicial, and provincial administration officials, and made public commitments to face up to its trafficking problems. Angola hosted the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament (CAN) in January 2010; officials took advantage of the public’s high level of interest in the CAN to raise the awareness of both residents and visitors of the dangers of trafficking during the tournament.
The Government of Burundi has made limited progress since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. In late 2009, a Burundian woman was detained in Rutana Province and subsequently charged with attempting to traffic children to Tanzania; she awaits trial. In a separate case, a woman in Bujumbura was required to pay a $42 fine for abusing her 12-year old domestic servant with droplets of burning
plastic bags; upon her arrest, police located the child’s aunt, who returned the child to her parents in the southern province of Bururi. The government’s anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, however, continue to be hampered by lack of political will, poor evidence gathering by police, the unwillingness of victims to lodge complaints, and the failure of prosecutors to vigorously pursue cases after receiving evidence. Burundi continues to lack an official process for law enforcement officers to interview potential trafficking victims or refer them for assistance. In October 2009, the government established a Municipal Council for Children and Youth to assist at-risk youth and establish a transit center for victims of human trafficking, demobilized child soldiers, and street children.
The Government of Cameroon demonstrated minimal progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. While state prosecutors coordinated efforts with Interpol to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders, particularly in the North West Region, there have been no new reports of trafficking prosecutions or convictions. The government has neither taken steps to educate law enforcement officials and social workers about the law against child trafficking nor made efforts to finalize and enact the draft law prohibiting trafficking of adults. Moreover, the Cameroonian government has not investigated reports of hereditary slavery in the Northern Province.
In August 2009, the Ministry of Social Affairs, in partnership with UNICEF and NGOs, began to develop a guide for protecting vulnerable children from exploitation, including trafficking. A draft guide was expected to be completed by the end of 2009.
The Central African Republic
The Government of the Central African Republic (CAR) has demonstrated limited law enforcement progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. In September 2009, the National Assembly adopted a new penal code that includes provisions prohibiting trafficking in persons. The government, however, has not developed procedures through which police and social workers may identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. The government has not collaborated with NGOs and the international community to provide care to victims, though there exist only a small number of NGOs with very limited capacity. In January 2010, the Minister of Interior spoke on national radio about
the overall law and order situation in the CAR, mentioning in particular problems with trafficking in children. The Deputy Minister of Defense tasked a senior gendarmerie official with investigating reports of child soldiers in self defense militias, some of which are government supported, and verbally recognized the importance of ending the practice in the CAR. During the reporting period, there were no NGO or government reports of child sex trafficking victims being placed in jail.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has made noteworthy progress in demobilizing children from fighting factions since the release of the 2009 TIP Report, but significant work is still needed in other areas of anti-trafficking law enforcement. The government has shown little progress in prosecuting suspected trafficking offenders. Although the Child Protection Code, which criminalizes child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, was enacted in January 2009, it remains unimplemented and without the necessary budget.
The government assisted the UN Mission to the DRC (MONUC) and international NGOs in demobilizing more than 2,000 children from various fighting factions in 2009; approximately 16 percent were found in the ranks of the national army (FARDC). While the FARDC high command was supportive of the efforts by MONUC to remove children from its forces, it continued to demonstrate little control in preventing ground troops from recruiting additional children or subjecting local populations to forced labor, including in connection with illegal exploitation of natural resources.
Republic of Congo
The Government of the Republic of Congo has demonstrated progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. The government collaborated with the UN to identify trafficking victims and traffickers through six government-supported judicial clinics. Trafficking victims may file claims against their traffickers at these clinics, which have identified 1,800 victims. A new child protection law with provisions against child trafficking has been passed, but awaits the president’s signature before it can go into effect. In collaboration with UNICEF, the government trained police to identify trafficking victims but provided no data on the number of officers trained. The government developed an action plan for the judicial protection of children, including trafficking victims.
The Government of Cote d’Ivoire has demonstrated some progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. In June 2009, Ivorian police participated in an Interpol-funded anti-trafficking raid on agricultural farms, primarily those growing cocoa and palm, in the Aboisso area. Police uncovered more than 50 children working on the farms but ultimately determined that only four were trafficking victims. Officials returned three victims to their families and referred one to the Ministry of Family for care. Eight suspected traffickers were detained as a result of the raid; all were released after questioning. In July 2009, the government launched a new program to address child labor exploitation in the cocoa sector.
The government has not developed systematic procedures for identifying trafficking victims among women and girls in prostitution. Moreover, the government has not taken steps to ensure that victims are not penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Although the National Anti-Trafficking Action Plan calls for the construction of five trafficking shelters using funds allocated for this effort, the government has not yet disbursed the funds. The government constructed one shelter in Southeastern Cote d’Ivoire using funds provided by the Aboisso General Council. The facility is not yet functional, however, due to lack of equipment, such as furniture and light fixtures. The Aboisso General Council also funded vocational training for 16 trafficking victims.
The Government of Djibouti has made some progress in addressing human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report, particularly through its efforts to raise public awareness, an increased willingness to collaborate with international partners, and a growing awareness among senior officials of the distinction between human trafficking and human smuggling. Addressing concerns for an estimated 100-200 migrants, mostly Ethiopians, who depart Djiboutian shores illegally by boat from Obock for Yemen each week, the government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) partnered to erect billboards at strategic points throughout the country warning migrants of the dangers of irregular migration, including the risk of becoming a trafficking victim or dying in
a shipwreck; the billboards are in three languages and feature easy-to-understand picture messages. Shipwrecks are common; the Djiboutian military regularly buries victims washed ashore and transfers apprehended smugglers to the judicial system for prosecution. The government continued providing protection and accommodation to asylum-seeking defectors from the Eritrean military, some of whom may be trafficking victims.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea has demonstrated limited efforts to combat trafficking since the release of the 2009 Report. The government has not reported efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders, but has drafted terms of reference for a training program for government social workers. The program includes a component on raising public awareness about trafficking through posters, the media, and speeches by government officials. The government has not established a formal system for providing trafficking victims with assistance, nor has it ceased the practice of deporting trafficking victims without providing them with care and safe repatriation.
The Government of Gabon has demonstrated progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. In October 2009, the Gabonese navy rescued 34 trafficked children from a vessel in Gabonese waters carrying illegal migrants from Benin to Equatorial Guinea. Government officials worked with UNICEF to identify the 34 victims among a group of 288 migrants and placed them in two shelters, one of which is government-operated. The ship’s captain was arrested and taken back to Benin. Gabonese authorities are working with Beninese officials to uncover the trafficking network responsible for trafficking the victims.
The Government of Gabon did not report additional prosecutions or convictions of trafficking offenders. While the government ceased the practice of placing victims in jail, even temporarily, it has yet to develop formal procedures to identify trafficking victims among females in prostitution. The government developed and published a National Procedural Manual for Assisting Trafficking Victims and established regional anti-trafficking monitoring committees.
The Government of Ghana has demonstrated steady progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. Ghana increased its law enforcement efforts by prosecuting six trafficking cases and convicting six trafficking offenders, imposing sentences of four to 17 years’ imprisonment. Included in these actions was the first conviction for forcing children to labor in the Lake Volta fishing industry. The government is also working with a local NGO to prosecute a trafficking case in the Lake Volta fishing industry. In July 2009, the parliament passed an amendment clarifying and improving the definition of trafficking in the 2005 Human Trafficking Act. There remains a lack of shelter space for sex trafficking victims. In September 2009, the Ghanaian police and Interpol hosted a regional training for law enforcement officials from Anglophone Africa. In August 2009, the president appointed new members to the Human Trafficking Management Board, which had been disbanded during the change in administration. The government took steps to establish four regional anti-trafficking units to manage cases more effectively at the regional level. These units are working with the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs to establish a new fund to provide assistance to trafficking victims.
The Government of Guinea has not demonstrated discernable progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. The government has not reported increased efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers or to adopt implementing text for the 2008 Child Code that includes anti-trafficking provisions. The government did not increase prescribed penalties for sex trafficking of adults and children or develop stronger partnerships with NGOs to provide victim care. Moreover, the government did not take steps to increase public awareness about trafficking.
The Government of Guinea-Bissau has demonstrated negligible progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. The government has not enacted the draft law prohibiting trafficking or increased efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenders under forced labor and trafficking-related laws. The government has not investigated whether children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or assessed whether Bissau-Guinean girls are trafficked to
Senegal for domestic servitude. There have been no reports that the government has finalized and enacted the draft anti-trafficking action plan.
The Government of Lesotho has made progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. Although the government has neither identified any trafficking victims nor prosecuted any trafficking offenders, it has taken steps to understand the trafficking situation within its borders and begun to develop a coordinated official response. In September 2009, the government established the Multi-Sectoral Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, comprised of relevant government agencies. The Committee is considering expanding membership to NGOs and other interested organizations. Its plan of action for its first year includes the drafting of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, conducting targeted public awareness campaigns, and holding regional consultative workshops. Sufficient funding, however, has not been made available to the committee by the government. The Lesotho Mounted Police Service independently applied for and secured funding from a foreign government for materials and officer training in trafficker and victim identification. In early December 2009, the Government of Lesotho and the Government of South Africa announced their new anti-trafficking cooperative relationship, through which their respective security agencies have joined forces to bring human traffickers to justice. The countries’ law enforcement agencies have been holding meetings in towns along their shared border to sensitize the public to the dangers of trafficking.
Although earlier in the year the subject of trafficking was absent from the press, local newspapers have begun to regularly report on the government’s nascent anti-trafficking plans and activities. Awareness among government officials, law enforcement, and social service providers of the ways in which they may encounter trafficking during the course of their duties is also increasing. As the general awareness of trafficking grows, however, more victims are likely to be identified; the government has no laws or procedures in place to protect victims and few facilities equipped to provide them with basic care services.
The Government of Mali has demonstrated minimal progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. While Malian officials claim that they arrested and prosecuted trafficking offenders, the government was unable to
provide data about any specific cases. The Ministry for the Advancement of Women, Children, and the Family requested from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime sample legislation prohibiting all forms of adult trafficking. The ministry plans to use this as a model for legislation specific to Mali. In late 2009, the government designated a focal point to develop legislation criminalizing hereditary slavery. This individual, a technical advisor at the Ministry of Justice, is working with Mali’s leading anti-slavery NGO to finalize draft legislation, developed by the NGO in collaboration with the International Senior Lawyers Project, and introduce it to the national assembly.
While the Malian government has stated that it has developed a system for collecting data on trafficking crimes and the number of victims identified, officials have not made public this system or its data. The government has co-hosted several conferences to raise awareness of trafficking of children and young adults. In November 2009, the Malian government participated in a conference organized by the leading anti-slavery NGO designed to introduce the draft anti-slavery legislation to civil society organizations.
The Government of Mauritius made modest progress in addressing human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. In October, it used the 2005 Children Protection Act to convict and sentence a woman to 10 years’ imprisonment for pimping two Mauritian girls. The government plans to start the construction of a residential care center for trafficking victims in March 2010; the shelter will be operated by the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development, and Family Welfare. In the meantime, the Head of the Child Development Unit has secured funding to rent a building to serve as a residential care center for trafficked children. The government did not establish a coordinating body or mechanism to facilitate improved anti-trafficking communication and coordination among relevant ministries, law enforcement entities, working groups, and NGOs.
The Government of Nigeria has demonstrated sustained progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. From January to October 2009, prosecutors convicted 25 trafficking offenders and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) provided care to 928 victims.
NAPTIP ceased the practice of interrogating trafficking suspects at the same facility that houses its Lagos trafficking victim shelter. To better ensure that victims’ rights are respected, NAPTIP formed a committee of directors to review victim care policies to strike a balance between ensuring safety and promoting freedom of movement. NAPTIP provided training on these issues to training personnel and implementing partners. The Nigerian government organized anti-trafficking awareness events, such as a race against human trafficking in Edo State.
The Government of Senegal has demonstrated minimal progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. The government has neither intensified its efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders nor taken steps to ensure that its special sex tourism units, located within the interior and tourism ministries, arrest sex tourists and rescue their victims. In October 2009, however, the prime minister chaired a full day workshop for government officials and NGOs that resulted in the creation of the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking, Particularly of Women and Children. The action plan includes strategies for how to better prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and prevent trafficking. Government-sponsored media covered the workshop.
The Government of Swaziland has made substantial progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the TIP Report in 2009. The government passed its first-ever comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation in October, which entered into force in November 2009. Other accomplishments include establishing a government-NGO anti-trafficking task force, creating a trafficking hotline, and developing a public awareness campaign to publicize the new legislation and raise awareness of the dangers of human trafficking. Officials acknowledged that they had not taken trafficking in persons seriously until this year. The government’s several anti-trafficking initiatives are in their infancy and consequently have not yet yielded results such as arrests and prosecutions of trafficking offenders.
The National Anti-Trafficking Task Force, which is made up of representatives from multiple government and law enforcement agencies, UNICEF and UNDP, and NGOs focused on assisting women, children, victims of crime, and other populations, provided significant input on the anti-trafficking legislation. The group has also met weekly to draft a road map for a national strategy on human trafficking. A reputable local NGO has been commissioned to report on human trafficking occurring within, through, or to Swaziland and report to the government within the next few months.
EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
The Government of Cambodia has demonstrated modest progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. Cambodian courts reported convicting four traffickers since April 2009, including a mother who prostituted her minor daughter to a foreign pedophile. The government did not report any efforts to investigate or prosecute labor recruiting agencies for labor trafficking, and its emphasis remained on prosecuting child sex tourists. The government did not prosecute, convict, or criminally punish any public officials complicit in trafficking. Impunity, endemic corruption, and related rent-seeking behavior continue to be an impediment to progress in combating trafficking in persons.
On August 31, the Ministry of Social Affairs adopted a new “Policy and National Minimum Standards for the Protection of the Rights of Victims of Human Trafficking,” though the effects of this new policy have yet to be seen. The policy includes guidelines to improve victim treatment and protection, but the government continues to lack national procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as foreign women and children arrested for prostitution. The government trained government officials on the enforcement of human trafficking provisions in the 2008 anti-trafficking law and also began to train judicial professionals on this law. The government continued public education and awareness efforts to discourage commercial sex acts, though these efforts were largely targeted at the tourist population and not at the significant local demand for such acts.
The Government of China has made progress in some areas to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. Forced adult and forced child labor remained a problem throughout the country. Government efforts described as addressing human trafficking, however, continued to be aimed largely at the trafficking of women and children.
The government did not take steps to enact legislation to prohibit all forms of trafficking, though it ratified the UN TIP Protocol in December 2009. Reported prosecutions and convictions of trafficking offenders increased in 2009; certain high profile cases have yet to lead to prosecutions, however, notably the 2008 Dongguan child labor scandal. In April 2009, Chinese officials collaborated with Costa Rican authorities to arrest members of an international ring that trafficked Chinese children to Costa Rica for forced labor. In July 2009, a woman who forced ten minors into prostitution in Guizhou province was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Authorities took steps to identify and protect trafficking victims; there were no systematic procedures in place on a national level to proactively identify victims, however. China appeared to continue to lack comprehensive victim protection services throughout the country, although NGOs along the southern border reported improvements in victim protection efforts by government officials in 2009. All these efforts, however, need to be strengthened significantly. Some trafficking victims continued to be punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
China continued to build counter-trafficking and victim protection activities with bordering countries, most notably with Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand; Chinese trafficking victims abroad have little access to resources or protection, however. There remained no legal alternatives to repatriation for foreign victims of trafficking, who are returned to their country of origin upon identification. The Chinese government continued to classify all North Koreans as “economic migrants” and to deport them back to North Korea.
Federated States of Micronesia
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia has made no discernable progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government has not taken steps towards development or enactment of legislation that prohibits trafficking crimes. The government has not conducted campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of trafficking. Moreover, the government did not monitor the practices of overseas employment recruiters or investigate recruiters who may be involved in trafficking. The government did not improve victim support mechanisms.
The Government of the Philippines demonstrated some progress to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. Since April 2009, the government has obtained eight sex trafficking convictions, five of which resulted from prosecutions conducted by an NGO on behalf of the victims; the Philippines government allows private lawyers to prosecute cases under the direction and control of public prosecutors.
On September 30, a Manila court convicted a former police officer and his accomplice for the sex trafficking of children in 2005 -- the first known conviction of a public official for a trafficking-related offense in the Philippines. The government did not convict any offenders of labor trafficking. Despite ongoing government efforts to expedite the adjudication of trafficking prosecutions, a significant backlog of trafficking cases remains in Philippine courts. In October 2009, three operations by local police in Cebu resulted in the rescue of more than 50 women and girls trafficked into prostitution, 17 of which were minors identified by authorities as trafficking victims.
The government continued efforts to train police, prosecutors, and social workers on the country’s 2003 trafficking law through various training seminars. The government assisted U.S. authorities in the December 2009 conviction in Florida of an American citizen who traveled to the Philippines to have sex with two minors. The government continued to conduct some anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at domestic and foreign clients of the sex trade in the Philippines. In June 2009, the Bureau of Immigration began disseminating a public warning against human trafficking at airports and on immigration cards. The Philippine Congress did not allocate funding to the Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking for fiscal year 2010. The committee continued to rely heavily on funding from foreign governments and donations from Philippine NGOs and corporations.
EUROPE AND EURASIA
The Government of Azerbaijan has demonstrated minimal progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. In August 2009, the Cabinet of Ministers formally adopted the National Referral Mechanism
(NRM) for victims of trafficking and a list of trafficking indicators was approved in September 2009 to aid in victim identification. Fourteen ministries with designated points of contact were identified to participate in the implementation of the NRM and the National Action Plan adopted in February 2009. A large-scale forced labor case, involving approximately 496 victims, illustrated deficiencies in the implementation of the victim referral mechanism, however, and the government’s ability and political will to quickly identify and assist victims of trafficking. Although the government reported allocating more than $600,000 for victim assistance from its budget, the government did not provide basic assistance for these labor trafficking victims; instead, foreign donors provided funding for food and other basic assistance for several hundred of these victims in desperate need of aid.
Although there were unconfirmed reports in 2008 of local law enforcement facilitating trafficking, the government did not report efforts to investigate or prosecute government officials for trafficking-related complicity since the release of the 2009 Report. In October 2009, the government renovated a section of its trafficking shelter to provide needed assistance for child victims, but no child trafficking victims were identified or assisted during the assessment period. Previously, there was no child trafficking shelter operating in the country and all identified child victims received assistance at a government-run child homeless shelter for a maximum of 30 days before they were returned to the streets.
The Government of Latvia has demonstrated progress in addressing human trafficking problems since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The percentage of victims assisted by government-funded anti-trafficking programs increased significantly -- from 43 percent in 2008 to 71 percent in 2009 -- although NGOs continued to report difficulties with certifying victims of trafficking as eligible for government-funded rehabilitation services, pursuant to the Social Services and Social Assistance Law enacted in 2006. The police increased efforts to identify victims of trafficking among women in street prostitution. Various government ministries used press conferences, websites, visits to schools, and a travelers’ hotline to raise public awareness about the dangers of trafficking associated with seeking employment abroad.
In a positive development, since the release of the 2009 Report, the Latvian government has reported sentencing more trafficking offenders to imprisonment.
Four of nine traffickers convicted during the first 10 months of 2009 were given prison sentences, compared with three out of 11 traffickers convicted in 2008. Significant reductions to the national budget required to deal with Latvia’s economic crisis had an impact on all aspects of security, law enforcement, and social spending. As a result, the government was unable to provide law enforcement officials, border guards, and labor inspectors with specialized training on forced labor cases, and it postponed anticipated anti-trafficking training for judges and prosecutors until 2010.
The Government of Moldova has made uneven progress in addressing trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The new government made some improvements in victim identification and increased funding for victim assistance, and it demonstrated a high-level commitment to trafficking by establishing a cabinet-level national committee on trafficking led by the foreign minister. Nonetheless, concrete improvements in trafficking- related complicity and victim protection have yet to be realized.
The Government of Moldova reported improvements in its collection and analysis of trafficking statistics and prosecuted 62 and convicted 37 trafficking offenders during the first 11 months of 2009. It did not, however, provide information on the length of sentences or the number of convicted traffickers serving time in prison. NGOs continued to express concerns regarding police downgrading trafficking for sexual exploitation cases to pimping or illegal migration, and trafficking for forced labor cases to illegal migration. A recent upgrading of a case from pimping to trafficking, under prosecutor pressure, is a welcome development. During the reporting period, the government provided $61,800 to its assistance and protection center in Chisinau, an increase from the previous year. An NGO reported the government provided free access to vocational training and issuance of national identification and health insurance to trafficking victims. NGOs believe that victims are often subject to subtle or direct threats against themselves or family members from traffickers and indicated that risk assessments for victim witnesses are rarely undertaken by the government. The government has yet to address ongoing concerns about the lack of specialized protections for child victims of trafficking; children are often interviewed multiple times over the course of several hours by police without special training and some are confronted and threatened by their traffickers. The government indicated its intention to re-open a high-profile case involving allegations of trafficking-related official complicity; it has not prosecuted or convicted any government officials for their involvement in trafficking-related corruption, however.
The Government of Montenegro has made progress to address trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report, but improved measures are needed to enhance the capacity of authorities to identify potential trafficking victims. The government, via its national anti-trafficking coordinator, made significant strides in improving the collection of law enforcement statistics and implementing prevention measures during the reporting period.
Since March 2009, the government initiated prosecutions in two cases involving trafficking for sexual exploitation. In one case, the court sentenced three defendants to an average of one year in prison. In the other case, the trial is ongoing. In a July 2009 new trial, the Superior Court in Podgorica sentenced three defendants to five years in prison each for human trafficking. On October 5, 2009 the defendants lodged an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Montenegro and the case is still pending. The defendants are out pending appeal.
During the reporting period, the government arrested and initiated prosecutions of 10 adults for organizing and forcing their own relatives, young Romani children, to beg. Most of the rescued children were temporarily accommodated in the Center for Children and Youth; 76 of whom were returned to their places of residence in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The government conducted numerous anti-trafficking raids in commercial sex sites across Montenegro and questioned more than 2,000 individuals; only one sex trafficking victim was provided shelter during the reporting period, however. Although government labor inspectors visited construction sites and reportedly imposed penalties including orders to eliminate irregularities, temporary suspension of work, fines, motions for inspection oversight of employees, and misdemeanor charges for companies in violation of labor laws; there were no trafficking arrests or potential forced labor victims identified as a result of these inspections. NGOs continued to report that victim-identification practices remained inadequate. Beginning in September 2009, the government conducted and sponsored numerous public awareness activities throughout the country and actively publicized its national efforts to prevent trafficking by designating October 8 as Trafficking Day in Montenegro.
The Government of Russia has demonstrated negligible progress in addressing human trafficking problems since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government did not work to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses all forms of trafficking and provide comprehensive victim assistance, nor did it establish a national level coordinating body for trafficking. The government also did not allocate funding to anti-trafficking NGOs that provide victim assistance and rehabilitative care; in November 2009, the government failed to prevent the closure of the IOM-run shelter and rehabilitation center in Moscow. In a step that may lead to improved efforts to prevent child trafficking, the government in September created the position of Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, which answers to the president. The ombudsman’s mandate currently does not include specific anti-human trafficking responsibilities, but it does include providing expertise on a range of matters related to the protection of children in Russia and working with organizations in Russia that deal with children’s rights. Two NGO-run shelters were provided with facility space by local governments in central Russia and the Russian far east.
The government reported an increase in the number of sex trafficking investigations conducted during the assessment period although fully comprehensive data was not available. Moreover, attention to the serious problem of forced labor continues to lag. The government did not demonstrate efforts to create a central repository for comprehensive trafficking data, including trafficking prosecutions, convictions, and penalties prescribed for convicted traffickers. Although the government publically acknowledges that human trafficking is a serious problem, Russia did not conduct a campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking. The government conducted an interagency review and determined it will not sponsor an anti-trafficking awareness campaign in the Sochi region in advance of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Government of Ukraine has made some progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. The government slightly increased its rate of prison sentences for traffickers and demonstrated increased funding for victim protection, assistance, and prevention. More concrete improvements, however, are needed in the punishment of traffickers and addressing trafficking-related complicity.
During the first half of 2009, the Government of Ukraine convicted 37 trafficking offenders under Article 149 of its criminal code, six of whom appealed their sentences; 13 convicted offenders were sentenced to 2 to 10 years’ imprisonment. In July 2009 the prosecutor general demonstrated a more aggressive approach towards sentencing traffickers by obligating prosecutors to challenge all trafficking verdicts that allow a light penalty; however nearly half of the 37 defendants were only sentenced to probation. Eight of the defendants’ assets were confiscated.
The government did not prosecute or convict any government officials for trafficking complicity, but in October 2009 it initiated an investigation involving an anti-trafficking officer who allegedly demanded a bribe to facilitate the illegal smuggling of people through Ukraine. The Ministry of Interior recently finalized a handbook for anti-trafficking investigators that includes information on victim identification and referral guidelines. During the interim assessment period, the government selected two pilot regions to develop and test a referral mechanism for victims of trafficking.
The Government of Algeria has made minimal progress against human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government’s new trafficking law entered into force in March 2009. The government has not reported any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions under this law.
The government funded the domestic travel of Algerian law enforcement officials to meet with outside anti-trafficking experts, as part of initial consultations for a training program.
The Algerian government has not strengthened its capacity to identify victims of trafficking among illegal immigrants nor has it improved services available to trafficking victims. The government has not ensured that trafficking victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, and it has not undertaken a campaign to increase public awareness of trafficking.
The Government of Bahrain has made limited progress since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. Bahrain has not initiated new prosecutions under its 2008 anti-trafficking law. The Bahraini government indicated that there have been a number of prosecutions under separate non-trafficking statutes that could be related to trafficking, including life sentences imposed on two Bahraini citizens convicted of murdering their domestic workers.
The majority of potential trafficking victims continue to be prosecuted for prostitution or immigration violations and quickly deported, although in the single application of Bahrain’s anti-trafficking law in December 2008, some victims who were identified were not prosecuted and were referred to protective services. There remains no formalized procedure for identifying potential trafficking victims. The Bahraini government continues to refer suspected victims (nearly all women) on an ad hoc basis to protective services; they have not yet implemented a formal referral process.
Bahrain, in August 2009, implemented reforms designed to enable labor mobility for expatriate workers. These reforms do not cover Bahrain’s approximately 70,000 migrant domestic workers – the group that is most vulnerable to trafficking. The parliament is considering draft legislation, however, that would include domestic servants in the 1976 Labor Law, giving them the same protections now afforded to other expatriate workers.
The Government of Egypt has made limited progress against human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. A court in October 2009 convicted two marriage registrars under the anti-trafficking provisions of the country’s Child Protection law. The two had illegally registered marriages of girls under the age of 18. In November, police arrested an additional 21 marriage registrars and charged them with illegally registering under-age marriages. The government did not report efforts to investigate or prosecute cases of the involuntary domestic servitude of children, nor did it provide adequate services to assist these children. The government does not actively encourage victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers.
Egypt has not yet enacted legislation criminalizing all forms of human trafficking, though the government completed a draft comprehensive anti-trafficking law for submission to Egypt’s parliament. Egypt has provided limited in-kind support to NGOs providing protection services to victims. Working with a local NGO, Egypt’s Ministry for Family and Population established a rehabilitation center for victims of child trafficking in Cairo’s Dar El Salaam area in August 2009.
Despite the public prosecutor office’s efforts in training prosecutors, judges, social workers, health inspectors, and other officials on victim identification, the government did not employ formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to providers of care; as a result, trafficking victims were at risk for being treated as criminals rather than victims.
No progress was reported in creating specialized care for adults and foreign trafficking victims in Egypt’s drop-in and day care centers, which can provide care to trafficked victims. In August 2009, the Minister of Family and Population launched a campaign against underage marriages to Arab tourists in villages in the 6th of October Governorate, where short-term marriages of underage girls are rife.
The Government of Iraq has made minimal progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government has not yet enacted a law drafted in January 2009 that criminalizes all forms of trafficking. The draft law reportedly is stalled in a special committee within the Shura Council. An inter-ministerial committee (comprised of members from the ministries of Human Rights, Foreign Affairs, and Labor and Social Affairs) will continue to serve as a coordinating body on human trafficking issues with no special authority to implement its recommendations. During the last six months, however, the Iraqi government initiated both a criminal and a human rights investigation into an alleged labor trafficking crime that resulted in the issuance of two arrest warrants.
The Iraqi government has yet to provide protection services to victims or to encourage their assistance in prosecuting offenders. The government has been unable to provide even temporary shelter to trafficking victims, though government authorities reportedly detained some foreign trafficking victims while their country of origin assists them to obtain new passports to return home. In August 2009, however, the Iraqi government’s efforts led to the successful repatriation of 14 women to Uganda after they were apparently trafficked into Iraq for the purposes of labor exploitation.
Iraq has not yet trained officials in methods to identify victims or considered measures to reduce abuse of migrant workers. Abuses of foreign workers who are trafficked into Iraq under false pretenses are often not investigated by the police. Some of these victims may be working on activities associated with the U.S. presence in Iraq.
The Ministry of Human Rights, working in tandem with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, initiated a public awareness campaign aimed at educating children at schools and youth centers across the country about trafficking, though the government has not yet created an effective mechanism to disseminate awareness information to front-line law enforcement officers.
Iraq has not taken steps to end the practice of forced marriages and curb the use of temporary marriages that can result in situations of sexual and domestic servitude; nor has it regulated recruitment practices of foreign labor brokers to prevent practices that facilitate forced labor.
The Government of Lebanon has made limited progress since the release of the 2009 TIP Report due, in part, to parliamentary inaction before the June 2009 elections and the lack of a government from June until November. The Ministry of Justice completed its review of a draft anti-trafficking law, which is pending approval by the newly formed cabinet. A labor code amendment to extend legal protections to foreign workers was reviewed by the National Steering Committee and transmitted to the Ministry of Labor for submission to the cabinet. A new standard or “unified” contract for domestic workers, provided in the March 2009 amendment to Lebanon’s labor code, has yet to be translated into the native languages of migrant laborers; domestic workers must still sign the contract in Arabic – a language most cannot read – upon arrival in Beirut. The government made no effort during the reporting period to enforce its law prohibiting the confiscation of foreign maids’ passports by the General Security (SG) – the government agency responsible for the entry, residency, and departure of foreign workers – or employers upon entry into the country.
The government has yet to prosecute any cases of forced labor against an employer. In July, the general prosecutor for the Mount Lebanon region began referring victims of trafficking to NGOs for assistance rather than prosecuting the victims for crimes that resulted from their being trafficked. In October, the government established a working committee to draft standard operating procedures to guide the SG in indentifying victims of trafficking among administrative detainees held at the SG’s detention center in Beirut, referring them to NGO-provided protective services, and tracking detainee cases to enable more efficient and timely processing. NGOs report some improvement in the SG’s identifying and handling of trafficking victims due to recent officer training programs.
The Government of Libya has made minimal progress in addressing human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government made no discernable progress in establishing a legal or regulatory framework to separate victims of trafficking from the general migrant population, although the government is currently undergoing a review of its criminal code. The government has not yet publicly released statistics on investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenses or statistics on convictions of trafficking offenders.
The Libyan government continued to provide in-kind assistance to NGOs for the training of law enforcement officials, judges, and prosecutors. At an October 2009 conference, Libyan prosecutors and judges openly discussed methods for better anti-trafficking coordination among government bodies, such as the Ministry of Justice and Public Security Agencies, which would lead to more effective identification of trafficking victims and prosecution of trafficking offenders. The government has not yet implemented a formal procedure to identify and protect victims of trafficking, however; without such a procedure, foreign trafficking victims may be detained and deported as illegal migrants without adequate protection.
The Government of Oman has made clear progress against human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. Oman convicted two expatriates for forcing a third expatriate into prostitution in September 2009 and sentenced both offenders to seven years’ imprisonment and a $26,000 fine. According to the Omani government, two additional TIP prosecutions are underway.
In early October 2009, the government, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO), conducted a two-day anti-human trafficking workshop for personnel of 12 government agencies. Also in October, the government’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking launched a website and hotline which provides information on pertinent legislation, tools for identifying TIP victims, as well as reporting mechanisms to the relevant authorities. The committee also published the government’s comprehensive National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking on the website. During the period, the public prosecutor’s office trained prosecutors on the mechanics of prosecuting cases under the country’s anti-TIP legislation.
Since the release of the 2009 report, Oman completed training for the police on the identification of trafficking victims and began using this training to screen immigrants who are apprehended for illegally entering Oman. Oman has yet to implement formal procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and migrants detained once in country for immigration violations. The country has not completed construction of a central shelter that will provide protection services to both labor and sex trafficking victims; however, Oman continues to provide shelter, financial assistance, and counseling to TIP victims at appropriate facilities.
The government reported multiple cases in which the Ministry of Manpower forced employers to return passports to employees after the Ministry received complaints about passports being held and indicated that there were at least four cases where the Omani courts forced the return of passports. The law that prohibits withholding of workers’ travel documents does not provide penalties for violation, however.
The Government of Qatar has made limited progress against human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The Qatari government has ratified the UN anti-TIP Protocol but has yet to enact anti-trafficking legislation that was drafted in early 2009. The government also has made no apparent effort to amend provisions of Qatar’s sponsorship law – enacted in March 2009 – to prevent the forced labor of migrant workers; one such provision retained a requirement for foreign workers to obtain their sponsors’ permission to leave Qatar. Since the release of the 2009 TIP Report, the government has not reported any new trafficking prosecutions or convictions.
The Qatari government has yet to implement formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups. Since May 2009, however, the government has sponsored several initiatives, including public awareness campaigns, formal training, and outreach to local labor attaches, to educate vulnerable populations about their legal rights against employers.
The Government of Tunisia has made no discernible progress in its efforts to address human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government has not taken action to modify its child labor and prostitution laws in order to prohibit human trafficking, nor has it undertaken any awareness raising campaigns or measures to expand its protective services for trafficking victims. Moreover, it has not demonstrated progress in creating and implementing procedures for the identification of trafficking victims.
United Arab Emirates
The Government of the United Arab Emirates has made progress in efforts to address trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government has investigated and prosecuted additional sex trafficking offenses and convicted sex trafficking offenders, though it made no discernable progress in investigating and punishing labor trafficking offenses. Dubai authorities initiated the prosecution of 17 human trafficking cases from January through mid-October 2009. At least twice, Dubai prosecutors filed human trafficking charges in sexual assault cases where sex trafficking was alleged. In August, Dubai criminal courts handed down five-year prison sentences to three individuals convicted of sex trafficking. Two convicted traffickers in another case received life sentences. At least one victim was referred to the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children to get social counseling and medical and psychological treatment.
In October, the Dubai Attorney General announced the creation of a permanent task force to handle human trafficking cases. The task force is a centralized anti-trafficking unit that will investigate and prosecute TIP cases.
The UAE government established a mandatory electronic wage deposit system for foreign laborers intended to prevent abuse of the sponsorship system by establishing a record of direct salary payments. It plans to cover an estimated 500,000 workers by the end of 2009.
Since the release of the 2009 TIP Report, the Government of the UAE has not improved protection services for victims of sex trafficking and forced labor nor has it developed and instituted formal procedures for officials to identify proactively victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups. The Government of the UAE now waives immigration violations for identified trafficking victims, but it has not ensured that trafficking victims are not incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized for other unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, with the exception of immigration violations. The government, however, funded the training of UAE law enforcement officials and NGO representatives on identifying trafficked persons and traffickers and techniques for interviewing potential victims.
The Government of Yemen has made no discernable progress in efforts to address human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government has not taken any law enforcement action against suspected human trafficking offenders, nor has it instituted formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking or improved protection services available to victims.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
The Government of Bangladesh has made modest progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government’s anti-trafficking policies and programs continue to be limited to the sex trafficking of women and girls, though the government has started examining existing labor laws with the intent to modify existing legislation or draft new legislation that addresses labor trafficking and the trafficking of men and boys. The government’s inter-ministerial committees covering trafficking issues continued to meet and coordinate anti-trafficking measures. The government of Bangladesh reported one conviction of a labor trafficking offender in the past year; the accused was sentenced to life in prison. The government also reported three cases, currently under trial, of government officials who are suspected of complicity in trafficking.
The Bangladeshi government could do more to improve oversight of Bangladesh’s international recruiting agencies to ensure their recruitment practices and excessive, legally sanctioned fees are not contributing to labor trafficking. The Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, however, has begun discussions with the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), an association of all licensed international recruiting agencies in the country, to reduce the legally sanctioned fees that BAIRA members can charge to aspiring immigrants -- costs that the ILO has linked to the forced labor of these migrants once overseas.
The government has yet to ensure that male victims of trafficking and victims of forced labor are provided access to services.
The Government of India has made progress in combating human trafficking since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. There are indications that the central government has made efforts to make trafficking, in particular sex trafficking, a priority. The Home Affairs Minister publicly called human trafficking a serious crime against humanity at the December 2009 launch of a book on trafficking. The Home Affairs Ministry expanded its anti-human trafficking cell, the central point for the ministry's anti-human trafficking coordination efforts, from six to 10 officers. In the fall of 2009 the ministry earmarked $440 million in funds for states to establish a computerized tracking and network system which would significantly improve the central government’s ability to collect and disseminate anti-trafficking law enforcement data. The ministry also issued two advisories to state governments, strongly encouraging greater efforts against human trafficking.
State and municipal efforts to rescue victims from sex trafficking, child labor, and bonded labor, and arrest trafficking offenders continued throughout the country. There has been state and local partnership with NGOs and/or demonstrated intrastate and interstate cooperation. Chennai police rescued seven Bangladeshi women in 2009, and Andhra Pradesh police worked with Mumbai police to successfully rescue 19 girls and arrest five traffickers in November. The Anti-Trafficking Court of Maharashtra used the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) to secure convictions in 81 cases against human traffickers in the past year. Central and state governments also conducted several initiatives to raise awareness about labor and sex trafficking, some in partnership with international organizations or NGOs. There were very few discernable efforts to confront
corrupt officials who facilitate human trafficking, however. A more complete assessment of state and central government efforts will be available in the 2010 TIP Report.
The Government of Pakistan has made some progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report, with improvements evident at both the national and provincial levels. While the Government of Pakistan has not reported any prosecutions or convictions of labor trafficking offenders, or any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking, it has reported many investigations of labor and sex trafficking offenses. The reporting of law enforcement data on bonded labor and forced child labor, a provincial police purview, has been difficult because of the high level of extremist violence and other criminal activity affecting Pakistan.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) disseminated the 2009 TIP Report’s findings and recommendations among federal and provincial labor, education, and health ministries, provincial chief secretaries, and provincial inspectors general of police, and requested data on anti-trafficking efforts from these government entities. As of October 2009 law enforcement officers in four districts of the Sindh Province had rescued approximately 650 laborers from bondage and placed some in state-owned housing. The federal government formed a Legal Review Committee and held nation-wide multi-stakeholder consultations to draft a legislative amendment to strengthen the 1992 Bonded Labour Abolition Act.
Pakistan has expanded victim protection services and prevention efforts. The government provided medical and psychological services to Pakistani trafficking victims in Oman through its FIA Oman offices. The federal government, as part of its National Plan of Action for Abolition of Bonded Labor and Rehabilitation of Freed Bonded Laborers, continued to provide legal aid to bonded laborers in the North West Frontier Province and Punjab and expanded services to include Balochistan and Sindh provinces, establishing provincial capital bases and district offices. This legal aid program has had an average annual expenditure of $21,000 since its launch in 2005. The Punjab provincial government continued implementation of its $1.4 million project (launched at the end of 2008) aimed at eliminating bonded labor in brick kilns. This project to date helped nearly 6,000 bonded laborers obtain national identity cards and has provided $140,000 in no-interest loans to help free laborers from debt. The Sindh provincial government has continued to implement its $116,000 project (launched at the end of 2005) which provided state-owned land for housing camps and constructed 75 low-cost housing units for freed bonded laborer families.
The Government of Sri Lanka has made limited progress since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. It reported no convictions for trafficking or for trafficking-related offences. Under the 2006 Anti-Trafficking Amendment, however, the Attorney General’s Department initiated prosecution of two suspected trafficking offenders between April and November 2009 (one under trafficking and one under sexual exploitation of children). Despite the lack of criminal prosecutions of labor trafficking offenses, the government took some preventive actions since the release of the 2009 Report. The investigative arm of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) conducted a total of 119 raids on unlicensed employment agencies between March and August 2009; the government made 275 cases among those arrested, charging them under section 398 of the Penal Code (fraudulent promises). These cases have not yet been tried. The SLBFE has taken administrative action against some employment agencies, including cancelling the licenses of four local agents and charging fines of US $250 (an average month’s wage for many Sri Lankans). Parliament passed legislation on September 24, 2009, which expanded the powers of the SLBFE to go after job agents who break the law. The new legislation increases fines, allows for imprisonment, regulates employment agents, and makes aiding and abetting illegally operating employment agents a crime.
Sri Lanka has not yet developed and implemented formal victim-referral procedures. Since its inauguration in June 2009, however, the National Counter-Human Trafficking Resource Centre of the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration has conducted two training sessions (with a total of 50 immigration officers) in detecting trafficking victims. The SLBFE conducted training sessions for police in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province between April and November 2009. The training included information on legal actions, investigations, and victim identification.
The Government of Tajikistan demonstrated modest progress in addressing human trafficking problems since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. Although the government did not provide in-kind or financial assistance to the two existing IOM-run trafficking shelters, Tajikistan increased its diplomatic staffing in the UAE and Russia to assist trafficking victims and to coordinate with local immigration officials in trafficking cases. Tajik diplomats in Dubai provided shelter for nine victims of sex trafficking at the government’s Dubai Consulate and assisted with their repatriation from the UAE to Tajikistan in 2009. The government reported no significant efforts to investigate 2008 allegations of government officials’ abuse of trafficking victims; no new allegations of victim mistreatment were reported since the release of the 2009 Report, however.
There were reports that the use of forced child labor during the annual cotton harvest decreased in 2009 following a presidential decree issued in April banning the use of student labor in the harvesting of cotton; however, some cases of forced child labor occurred. Local authorities also ordered adult government employees, including doctors and teachers, to pick cotton in lieu of their normal duties. There were no reported efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, or punish local government officials who forced children or adults to pick cotton during the 2009 cotton harvest.
The Government of Turkmenistan has demonstrated limited progress in addressing human trafficking problems since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government drafted revisions to Turkmenistan's penal code that would criminalize and prescribe penalties for all forms of trafficking crimes, as defined in the 2007 Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons; the amendments to the criminal code had not been completed at the time of this assessment. Authorities reported investigating and prosecuting two traffickers in 2008, although the government did not provide information on whether these individuals were convicted or punished. Despite unconfirmed reports that some customs or migration officials were complicit in human trafficking, the government did not report efforts to investigate any officials for trafficking related complicity.
The government did not provide victim identification, victim referral, or victim sensitivity training for border guards or police and did not refer victims for assistance. The government did, however, in 2009 agree to work with international organizations to provide victim identification and sensitivity training, and law enforcement officials took part in several training courses conducted by IOM and the OSCE. The government reportedly issued instructions to its foreign missions abroad to work closely with foreign law enforcement authorities on trafficking cases and to assist identified victims of trafficking in foreign countries and aid in their safe repatriation to Turkmenistan. There were unconfirmed reports that some victims of trafficking were denied assistance by Turkmen consular officials in a destination country, however. The government did not provide financial assistance to any anti-trafficking organizations that assist victims of trafficking.
The Government of Uzbekistan has demonstrated mixed progress in addressing human trafficking problems since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. Although the government improved efforts to address sex trafficking and some forms of forced labor, the government did not take substantive action to end the use of government-compelled forced labor during this year’s annual cotton harvest. The government continued to designate a quota for national cotton production and paid farmers artificially low prices for the cotton produced, which made it difficult for farmers to afford to hire consensual labor. During the 2009 fall harvest, school children were forced to pick cotton by local officials in 8 of 14 regions in the country.
The use of forced adult labor -- including university students and government employees -- increased during the 2009 harvest. Although the government made some symbolic efforts to condemn the use of forced child labor during the annual harvest, including the Ministry of Education’s request of school directors to certify they would not force students to participate in the harvest, school closings were reported in most districts. The government did not take measurable steps to reduce adult forced labor in the cotton sector. International experts were not permitted to conduct an independent assessment of the use of forced labor during the 2009 cotton harvest, although UNICEF was permitted to do some monitoring of forced child labor. The government did not report efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, or punish government officials complicit in trafficking.
The Government of Uzbekistan continued to make significant progress on implementing its National Anti-Trafficking Action Plan including opening the first government-run shelter for sex trafficking victims in November 2009. NGOs reported that the government assisted in finding employment for victims of sex trafficking and enforced anti-discrimination protections included in its 2008 comprehensive anti-trafficking law. The government also continued its efforts to improve the collection of law enforcement trafficking data through the creation of a database expected to be operational in early 2010.
The Government of Argentina has made clear progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. Coordination for the Office for Rescue and Caring of Victims of Trafficking was transferred to the Secretary of Justice within the Ministry of Justice, Security, and Human Rights in August 2009; since then, psychologists, social workers, and policy experts have been included in law enforcement actions involving the identification of victims by authorities. Shelter for rescued victims is coordinated through the office, and psychologists remain with victims throughout the process – including for initial interviews and legal testimony. After providing consensual video testimony, victims are assisted through programs designed specifically for victims of trafficking and child commercial sexual exploitation. The Ministry of Justice, Security, and Human Rights provides on-going training to officials and law enforcement officers through its "Victims against Violence Program."
The government has continued to conduct raids of premises where trafficking is suspected to occur, rescue victims, and arrest suspected traffickers. Prosecutors have initiated 318 trafficking cases, and so far secured indictments for 34 individuals on human trafficking charges. On November 27 in Santa Fe province, a woman was sentenced to 10 years in jail in Argentina’s first conviction for human trafficking. As a result of testimony during the trial, prosecutors have decided to investigate two more individuals in relation to the case. Another trafficking case was scheduled to begin in Eldorado City, Misiones province, on November 25 but was postponed. The prosecutor general approved a standardized protocol for investigation of sex trafficking cases and guidelines for identifying, interviewing, and assisting victims of trafficking crimes. He also worked with the Justice Minister and the Interior Minister to help provinces and municipalities bring their legislation into compliance with federal trafficking in persons laws. Additionally, the prosecutor general ordered prosecutors to identify officials who may have participated in or covered up human trafficking crimes, and prosecute them as warranted.
The National Migration Office (NMO) increased more than 10-fold its inspections of migrants’ living and working conditions in Buenos Aires alone. The NMO also signed agreements with the General Prosecutor’s Office and some provincial judicial branches to make their database available to prosecutors and judges.
On November 26, the City of Buenos Aires passed a law making March 26-April 3 the “Week for the Fight against Trafficking.” The dates were selected to coincide with the anniversaries of a fire in a clandestine factory that resulted in the death of five victims of forced labor and the disappearance of Marita Veron, believed to be a victim of sex trafficking. The goal of the week was to raise public awareness of human trafficking.
The Government of Belize has made limited progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. The government is working to increase its official capacity to address human trafficking, but there have been few concrete results to date. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee met regularly but has not yet launched any new or additional anti-trafficking activities. Authorities have arrested no suspected trafficking offenders, nor have they opened any trafficking-related investigations or initiated any trafficking prosecutions, despite reports that potential cases have been brought to the attention of the Committee. There were no known efforts to investigate cases of alleged official complicity of law enforcement personnel in human trafficking.
Officials demonstrated efforts to identify trafficking victims in likely trafficking areas but have not yet identified any victims. The government began using an intelligence-driven approach to anti-trafficking law enforcement operations, rather than broad investigation sweeps to discover and evaluate potential trafficking situations. The Government of Belize reports that its routine spot checks of employment sites has started to include examinations of various company documents for evidence of forced labor and other illegal activity.
The Government of the Dominican Republic has made limited progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. While senior government officials expressed support for anti-human trafficking efforts, the government has not allocated funding to implement the National Action Plan to
Combat Trafficking. The Attorney General’s Office did not report any efforts to prosecute trafficking offenders. Victims’ rights were generally protected, however, and assistance and shelter activities continued as before. No labor trafficking cases were identified, and general awareness about labor trafficking remained low.
The government collaborated with two NGOs working on projects to implement parts of the National Plan of Action. Their attention is currently focused on various activities designed to increase prevention and enhance ties between civil society and prosecutors.
The Government of Guatemala has made limited progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government enacted an anti-trafficking law in April 2009, but the government has done little to implement or enforce the law. Judges and police remain poorly informed about trafficking in general and the provisions of the anti-trafficking law. Government agencies’ continuing efforts to rescue trafficking victims and prosecute trafficking offenders remain hindered or stalled by a lack of funding and resources, and government-supported victim services remained severely lacking.
As required by Guatemala’s new law, the government established a secretariat within the vice president’s office to lead and coordinate anti-trafficking efforts. Since the secretariat was formed in early 2009, the group has consulted with congress to clarify its mandate and begun to map the anti-trafficking activities of relevant institutions within the government and civil society but not yet taken any action. Though the Ministry of Labor and the office within the Public Ministry dedicated to human trafficking and irregular child adoptions have begun to work on labor-related trafficking cases, there were even fewer resources available for labor-related trafficking than there were for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The Government of Guyana made limited progress in combating trafficking in persons since release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government proactively identified and provided assistance to at least one trafficking victim, but the government has yet to successfully prosecute any trafficking offenders. All alleged trafficking offenders remain free.
The government continued to provide services to victims and develop the capacity of regional “focal point” groups to identify victims throughout the country. The government also contributed resources toward an IOM-led training for police and immigration officials on victim protection in September 2009. Judicial proceedings of trafficking cases continued to be delayed, allowing trafficking offenders to operate with impunity and hampering victim protection.
The Netherlands Antilles
The Government of the Netherlands Antilles has made some progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 TIP Report. The government has not yet passed pending legislation criminalizing trafficking, but, in an initial positive step, the Minister of Justice separated the human trafficking article from the broader code of criminal law in order to facilitate its expeditious passage.
The anti-trafficking coordinator of the Netherlands Antilles formally trained officials, including health officials working with women in the Curacao government-regulated brothel, on identifying trafficking and providing victim assistance. Netherlands Antilles officials also worked with Dutch authorities to establish new procedures giving foreign women in this brothel control of all of their travel documents. The anti-trafficking coordinator continued to initiate anti-trafficking public awareness activities, including dissemination of anti-trafficking information via social media.
The Government of Nicaragua has made no discernable progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. Currently five trafficking cases are being prosecuted, and there have been no convictions yet. The government has not initiated prosecutions of public officials suspected of complicity in trafficking crimes. Nicaraguan laws and programs for addressing forced labor have not yet been effectively implemented. The government has not dedicated any additional resources to victim assistance and has reportedly informed some children’s shelters used to assist trafficking victims that they would no longer receive government financial assistance. No public awareness campaigns were conducted during this time.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has made minimal progress in addressing concerns raised in the 2009 Report. It worked closely with an outside expert to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and to draft, enact and implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. The government investigated two potential human trafficking cases but has not yet initiated any prosecutions in these or other cases. The government showed a clear commitment to educate officials, law enforcement agencies, social service providers, and the public about the crime of human trafficking and ways with which to identify suspected cases of trafficking. The Prime Minister made the first-ever address to parliament on human trafficking issues following the release of the 2009 Report and requested outside assistance in educating the public sector and the general public about trafficking in persons.
The Government of Venezuela has made no discernable progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2009 Report. The government declined to provide information on whether it had prosecuted any of the suspected trafficking offenders in the six investigations of transnational sex trafficking, one investigation of transnational labor trafficking, and one investigation of internal trafficking it opened in the previous reporting period or whether it has taken any action against officials who might be complicit in trafficking crimes. The Venezuelan government reported conducting 15 trafficking investigations and detaining 11 people for trafficking crimes in 2009, though it did not indicate how many of these occurred after April 2009. The government acknowledged that it has not amended its current anti-trafficking legislation, the 2007 Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Violence-Free Life, to prohibit the trafficking of men and boys, but it claimed that these crimes are adequately penalized under other active laws and internal protocols.
Government funding for victim shelters appears to remain severely limited, and no information was made available by the government as to whether its support for protective services had increased or otherwise changed. NGOs noted that the government-sponsored TIP hotline frequently does not work.