printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

II. International Best Practices


Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 5, 2006
Report
Share

Australia: Combating Child Sex Tourism.
The NGO, Child Wise , along with the Government of Australia, has sponsored a regional education campaign to combat child sex tourism that was adopted by the ten ASEAN Tourism Ministers on January 16, 2006. The program aims to heighten the awareness of child sex trafficking/tourism, among airline personnel, travel agents, and immigration and visa officials, as well as the general public. It urges target audiences to call a local hotline to report suspicious activities. The program is especially valuable for local law enforcement agencies' efforts to detect and prosecute pedophiles and child sex offenders. The 18th Global Task Force to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Tourism invited Child Wise to present its campaign model at its March 10, 2006, conference in Berlin. Last year, Australia began 24 child sex tourism investigations, charged seven people, and secured one conviction. Thus far, Australia has prosecuted 17 people under its extraterritorial legislation.

Bangladesh: Disseminating Anti-Trafficking Information to At-Risk Women.
The Government of Bangladesh has instituted a program in which anti-trafficking information is distributed to members of micro-credit lending programs. Underprivileged women, particularly those in rural areas of Bangladesh, are the primary beneficiaries of microcredit; they are also among the most at-risk populations for trafficking. By distributing anti-trafficking brochures during microcredit lending sessions, the government reached 400,000 atrisk women in 39,061 sessions, warning these women of the dangers of trafficking. This example shows the beneficial relationship between anti-trafficking campaigns and broader economic and social development initiatives.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Tajikistan: Effective Police Strategies.
The Anti-Trafficking Strike Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted four major raids in 2005 and 2006 that resulted in the rescue of 26 victims and the apprehension of at least 14 traffickers. This unit exemplifies the importance of close cooperation between prosecutors and police in effectively executing successful raids to rescue victims and arrest traffickers. It also highlights the practical results of bringing different police agencies together to cooperate on trafficking investigations. As a result of one raid, one of the most notorious night bars in central Bosnia was shut down.

Tajikistan set up elite anti-trafficking units consisting of two to four specially trained police investigators in regions throughout the country. An increased number of these units led to 81 trafficking investigations in 2005, a significant increase from 2004.

Brazil: Targeting Major Re-entry Points for Victims Assistance Centers. Many victims trafficked abroad are eventually deported or repatriated back to their home countries and need a helping hand upon their return. In Brazil, most victims returning from foreign countries re-enter the country through Sao Paulo's international airport. The State of Sao Paulo has worked in partnership with an NGO to establish a victim support center near the airport so that returning victims have prompt access to help. The NGO Association for the Defense of Women and Youth assisted more than 150 women and girls during the past two years by arranging transportation to get victims back to their final home communities and providing information about government protection services and legal procedures.

Colombia and Ecuador: Using Popular Culture to Spread Public Awareness.
Public and private partnerships are using mainstream entertainment to help spread antitrafficking messages. In Colombia, The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), worked with the producer of the popular soap opera "Everybody Loves Marilyn" to incorporate a storyline for the role of "Catalina" that dramatized the plight of a trafficking victim. Use of the widelyviewed television Spanish language series, broadcast throughout Colombia and exported to Venezuela, Ecuador, and the United States, educated the public, reaching large sections of the population. It also helped potential victims identify with the character, and understand some of the methods used to deceive victims and witness the abuse they could face in a trafficker's hands.

In Ecuador, volunteers from the National Institute for Children and Family (INNFA) worked with visiting international musician Ricky Martin, his charitable foundation, and Colombian entertainer Carlos Vives to disseminate anti-trafficking messages and information that reached approximately 24,000 people attending their concerts in Quito and Guayaquil. Some 50,000 soccer spectators in Ecuador watched a game played on a field bedecked with a huge INNFA "No to Trafficking in Persons" graphic.

Ecuador: Using Public Transportation to Spread Anti-Trafficking Messages.
The municipality of Guayaquil and the Confederation of Taxicab Drivers for the greater Guayaquil area worked together with an NGO to raise public awareness by placing stickers with an anti-trafficking message inside local taxis. The stickers explain the nature of trafficking, warn about heavy penalties for traffickers, and encourage the reporting of trafficking crimes.

Ethiopia and Kuwait: Efforts to Protect Migrant Workers in Source and Destination Countries.
The Ethiopian Immigration Office provides printed information on trafficking in persons, including organizations to contact for help in foreign countries, to thousands of Ethiopians applying for passports to work outside the country. It also requires applicants to view an IOM-produced video, "Make the Right Choice," on the risks of human trafficking inherent in overseas employment and what to do in case of victimization.

The Kuwait Union of Domestic Labor Offices (KUDLO), an association of labor recruitment agencies, under the leadership of General Manager Hashim Majid Mohammed, paved the way for protection of expatriate workers in Kuwait. KUDLO partnered with the Al-Haqooq law firm and several source country embassies to provide free legal services to domestic workers who faced problems with their employers. KUDLO has been working hard to create the first Kuwaiti-run shelter for domestic workers, who will be able to get speedy legal and administrative assistance to resolve workplace problems such as the lack of pay or harassment. In response to the widespread problem of substituting contracts signed by workers in their home country, in their native language, with new, less favorable contracts in Arabic, KUDLO facilitated an agreement whereby the Indian Embassy and KUDLO review, sign, and file a copy of the contract of every Indian domestic worker before he or she comes to Kuwait. The agreement also provides insurance to the worker in case of health or legal problems. It is working to sign similar agreements with other embassies. KUDLO also brought together arriving migrants with their prospective employers to educate both in their rights and responsibilities.

Indonesia and Lithuania: Mobilizing Scouts and Students.
In 2004, the Scout Movement, which incorporates nearly all public school students across the country, began an antitrafficking campaign in Indramayu, West Java, where too many young women and girls fall victim to trafficking. In its current phase, the Scout Movement will provide anti-trafficking education to 25,000 students in 116 schools in the Indramayu area by August 2006. The Scout Movement has trained 285 school-level facilitators who utilize innovative training and a campaign kit containing a four-part video documentary, comic books, and other antitrafficking materials. The national Scout movement is considering expanding the program to other districts and instituting an anti-trafficking merit badge to encourage more Scouts to learn about and promote anti-trafficking efforts. The Scout's involvement in anti-trafficking is part of a larger strategy initiated by the Indonesian Government, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (the Solidarity Center), and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) to mobilize existing mass-membership institutions and their significant networks to combat trafficking.

Similarly, Lithuania has also been raising awareness in the classroom. The Missing Person Families Support Center designed an educational program for schools to ensure students have adequate information on the risks of trafficking. Center employees give students one-hour lessons including viewing a documentary in which young victims tell their stories. Students also engage in a roundtable discussion and receive antitrafficking brochures. The Center conducts 20 of these sessions annually.

Malawi: Local Awareness Enables Identification of Traffickers.
To enhance its ability to combat child trafficking, the Government of Malawi hired district-level child protection officers to conduct country-wide sensitization meetings that educated rural communities about human trafficking. Informative posters and brochures were also used to raise awareness among local populations. Villagers in the Malawian town of Mchinji learned to recognize trafficking activities through this educational campaign and, soon after, quickly notified local police of a suspicious man attempting to cross the border with a group of children. An investigation ensued, and the man was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labor for trafficking children. After receiving similar types of education in human trafficking, local communities in Burkina Faso and Guyana have also been able to successfully identify instances of trafficking in their communities.

The Philippines: Emphasizing Need for Task Forces at Local Level.
The city of Zamboanga formed a local version of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) that mirrors the national council. The body brings together local government units involved with trafficking to foster close coordination in pursuing TIP cases. During 2005, local police, prosecutors, and social workers effectively cooperated in order to achieve the first conviction in the country under the 2003 anti-trafficking law. After the victim in the case came forward, the city's Social Welfare and Development Office worked with police to help investigate the case. Police also worked closely with the prosecutor's office. Finally, the court made this trafficking case a priority, which allowed the case to be concluded in a record five months. The mayor's office set an outstanding example by making known to local government agencies its commitment to fighting human trafficking.

Romania: Candid and Cooperative with Private Researchers.
The Government of Romania commissioned the most comprehensive report on human trafficking in Romania to date. The report was supported and partially financed by UNICEF, and researched by a nongovernmental entity. Researchers had complete access to government officials and official information enabling the report to be extremely candid and critical of current gaps in anti-trafficking policy. The report has already begun to serve as a roadmap for how to improve government efforts.

Global Law Enforment Data
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2003 added to the original law a new requirement: that foreign governments provide the Department of State with data on trafficking investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences in order to be considered in full compliance with the TVPA's minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking (Tier 1). The 2004 TIP Report collected this data for the first time. The requirement is fully effective starting with this Report. The chart below compares data collected for this and the two preceding Reports:

Starting with this Report, governments must collect and provide full law enforcement data in order to qualify for Tier 1.

Year Prosecutions Convictions New or Amended Legislation
2003 7,992 2,815 24
2004 6,885 3,025 39
2005 6,618 4,766 41

Child Domestic Servitude
The largest employment category in the world, for children under age 16, is domestic work in homes other than their own, according to the International Labor Organization. The overwhelming majority of these children are girls. Although the majority of children in forced domestic labor are between 12 and 17, in many countries, children are made to work at much younger ages.

Victims of child domestic servitude are routinely subjected to physical, mental, and verbal abuse, and suffer from a loss of freedom and denial of schooling. They are underfed and overworked. In some countries, such as Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, and Nigeria, it is normal to have child domestics in one's home. The children are either sent by their parents or lured from rural areas to the city with promises of making enough money to send back to their families. Removed from their own families, they are often forced to work long days, providing services around the clock for the employer's family, such as house cleaning, cooking, laundry, and child care.

Although they typically live with the employer's family, young victims are usually not provided with a room of their own and given no privacy. Routinely, they are forced to sleep on the floor in the corner of a room or under the kitchen table, and are made to eat leftovers. They are often subject to verbal, mental, and physical abuse from an early age by all family members, including other children. In many cases with child victims, they may not leave the home unsupervised and may be locked up when the family goes out.

The isolation of child domestic workers renders them highly vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Child domestics often face sexual abuse from the males in the household, including male children and relatives. Confined to the home, they are not able to flee, seek help, or return to their own homes. The stigma attached to child domestic workers coupled with their lack of education often leaves them with few employment options. What's more, the large populations of child domestics are often invisible to societies that are otherwise increasingly aware and active on other human rights problems. Some commendable efforts are underway to increase public awareness of their plight using innovative techniques. One such effort has been launched by the Indian NGO National Domestic Worker's Movement, aiming advertisements at India's middle and upper classes through fashion magazines.

The Policy of Victim Rescue
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. While some victims of this crime are able to escape from involuntary servitude, many more are not able to break free on their own. They need help. Help usually comes in the form of a raid on the place where victims are held against their will. Victims of involuntary servitude in a labor situation are rescued through raids on sweatshops, or searches of homes exploiting domestic servants, for example. Victims of sex trafficking are rescued through raids on brothels and other places where commercial sexual exploitation occurs, such as massage parlors, karaoke bars, and strip clubs. Regardless of the type of rescue, the law enforcement operation—typically termed a "raid"—should be executed through legal means, under the proper authority, using warrants or other necessary court or police orders.

Smart Raids vs. Blind Raids
Law enforcement raids in search of trafficking victims are most effective when they involve good planning and information gathering. While it is unrealistic to get complete information on victims in servitude, learning enough to know, with a high degree of certainty, that trafficking victims are present in the commercial sex and labor sites is important. Victim information is usually obtained through law enforcement people working undercover or through strategicallyrecruited informants. Carefully planned to ensure the safety of all involved and with post-rescue care arranged for trafficking victims, these smart raids can free trafficking victims while minimizing harm to others.

Some law enforcement raids are blind: They are executed against a target without prior attempts to verify the existence of victims of trafficking in those locations. Blind raids can lead to poor results while inconveniencing or harming people not involved in trafficking. Law enforcement agents often become disheartened after such unsuccessful raids, especially if they assumed enslaved people would be found enthusiastically awaiting liberation. Bad experiences with blind raids can lead to less effort against sites where labor or sex trafficking is ongoing—or lead to cynicism regarding the human trafficking phenomenon.

Identifying Victims of Trafficking
The violence (physical and psychological) and intimidation that marks involuntary servitude means that victims are often reluctant to identify themselves as victims. This is true around the world and occurs for various reasons. First, victims are usually taught to fear law enforcement authorities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). If victims are underage, they are typically coerced by traffickers and brothel keepers to claim they are adults consensually involved in prostitution. Adult trafficking victims may be coerced to hide indicators of trafficking— such as confinement, debt bondage, or threats of violence against them and their families. Labor managers and brothel keepers often threaten victims or their relatives with future harm if their situation is revealed.

Suspected victims must be removed from the site of exploitation, away from the threatening environment, and taken to a safe place. The state often needs to have temporary custody of these suspected victims, as victims or witnesses of serious crimes. In such an environment—usually in the form of a shelter—victims of human trafficking are more likely to reveal their true situations. The true ages of victims can be learned through self-reporting or medical examinations. Police and social counselors need time to interview and counsel suspected victims. This counseling period, ranging from several days to several weeks, should become a standard practice in countries with significant trafficking problems. Once a person's status as a victim of trafficking has been determined, long-term care should be available to facilitate rehabilitation.

Children Used for Commercial Sex
U.S. Government policy on children (under the age of 18) used for commercial sex is unambiguous: They must be removed from exploitation as soon as they are found. The use of children in the commercial sex trade is prohibited under both U.S. and international law. There can be no exceptions, no cultural or socio-economic rationalizations that prevent the rescue of children from sexual servitude.

NGO Involvement
NGOs often help law enforcement officers carry out raids and rescues. They can offer psycho-social counseling skills that help identify trafficking victims, usually after they are removed from trafficking situations. NGOs and media representatives can also play a valuable role in holding law enforcement authorities to legal standards of crime prevention and victim care by bearing witness to, and demanding, accountability. NGOs, however, should not play a lead role in a raid or rescue, as they lack authority to perform law enforcement actions. NGOs and the media should avoid any practices that harm the rights of children or others.

Rights of Trafficking Victims
The U.S. Constitution (13th Amendment) prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude in the United States. We seek to ensure this basic standard in our efforts to combat trafficking in persons internationally. In approaching the prospective rescue of trafficking victims through law enforcement operations ("raids"), the rights of victims are paramount. Efforts should be made to minimize the number of non-trafficking victims affected by raids and rescues, but this must not preclude efforts to free every victim, who by definition, is in clear and present danger of physical harm. There should be no safety zone in which traffickers can abuse their victims without fear of law enforcement action.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.