The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as amended (TVPA) requires that the Secretary of State submit a list of countries that are determined to require special scrutiny to Congress and provide an Interim Assessment of the progress made in combating trafficking in persons (TIP) by the countries on that list. See section 110(b)(2)(A) and (B) of the TVPA. The assessment period briefly reports on government anti-trafficking activities in the six months since the release of the 2017 annual report. (The annual TIP Report provides an in-depth description of the trafficking problem in each particular country or territory and an analysis of government efforts to address trafficking.)
In the 2017 TIP Report, 47 countries were placed on the Special Watch List. As required by the TVPA, the Special Watch List consists of countries that either (1) had moved up a tier from the 2016 TIP Report; or (2) were ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List because they were making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards and also (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) made commitments to carry out future actions over the coming year.
The Secretary of State placed each of the countries or territories included in the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report on a particular tier, as mandated by the TVPA. This placement reflects an evaluation of a government’s actions to combat trafficking. Governments that fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking are placed on 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 on Tier 2. The Special Watch List criteria are considered and, if applicable, Tier 2 countries are placed on the Tier 2 Watch List. Those countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so are placed on Tier 3.
Tier 1: Countries and territories 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.
Tier 2 Watch List: Countries and territories 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, and:
a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is increasing significantly; or
b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or
c) The determination that a country or territory is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country or territory to take additional future steps over the next year.
Tier 3: Countries and territories whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
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 otherwise were 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.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Benin improved its national coordination of anti-trafficking efforts by establishing an inter-ministerial task force; provided training to relevant law enforcement officials; doubled the annual operational budget for the anti-trafficking office; launched a public awareness campaign focused on child labor; and worked to improve collection of law enforcement data by increasing coordination between social workers, law enforcement officials, and other first responders. The government did not establish measures to assist adult trafficking victims or develop systematic procedures for victim identification and referral to care.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Burkina Faso collaborated with an international organization on a project to strengthen its system for collecting anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim identification data. The government did not, however, proactively investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including corrupt marabouts or traffickers posing as marabouts who exploit children in forced begging, nor did it increase funding for police and security force units charged with investigating trafficking crimes.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Cabo Verde investigated cases of sex trafficking, drafted a national action plan to combat trafficking, raised awareness of child labor and child sexual exploitation on at least six islands, and worked with judges and police to improve child victim protections during trials on Santo Antao Island. It did not, however, report what protective services it provided to identified victims.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Cameroon convened a meeting between inter-ministerial counter-trafficking committee members and civil society actors. The government did not enact legislation to address the lack of victim protection measures, provide adequate repatriation assistance to the many trafficking victims identified abroad, establish any new anti-trafficking taskforces, or allocate sufficient resources to the inter-ministerial committee and regional taskforces.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Chad enacted a new penal code, which contains some provisions on trafficking in persons. However, the government did not enact a specific anti-trafficking law, reestablish the inter-ministerial committee on trafficking, or draft an updated national action plan.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Djibouti prosecuted three cases with trafficking indicators, dedicated additional staff to conduct trafficking prevention outreach across the country, and expanded proactive screening and protective services for vulnerable migrants. However, the government did not convict any individuals for trafficking crimes and lack of intragovernmental coordination on trafficking continued to create challenges for victim referral and anti-trafficking law enforcement action.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Gabon resumed regular monthly meetings of the inter-ministerial committee on trafficking. The government did not enact a proposed amendment to criminalize adult trafficking for the fourth consecutive year, nor has it prosecuted any traffickers in 2017.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Ghana sentenced two individuals to five years imprisonment, conducted multi-agency anti-trafficking operations that resulted in arrests and protection of victims, and provided funding for victims’ services and the Human Trafficking Fund. However, the government did not report increased efforts by state prosecutors, improved coordination between prosecutors and investigators, or increased operational funding for anti-trafficking law enforcement activities.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the government of Liberia investigated, prosecuted, and convicted four traffickers and expanded resources for child victims, including by providing social workers to the Liberia National Police’s safe house for victims of crime. The government did not proactively target, investigate, or prosecute government officials complicit in trafficking, sufficiently address internal trafficking cases, or provide comprehensive services for male victims of trafficking.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Madagascar increased efforts to prosecute suspected trafficking offenders; worked to improve data collection for law enforcement efforts with a non-TIP specific database for minors; and, in collaboration with civil society, continued efforts to train law enforcement and civil society on anti-trafficking. The government did not develop formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, systematically offer services to all victims, or provide funding to the National Office to Combat Trafficking.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Mozambique increased its investigations and prosecutions compared to the same period in the previous year, improved management of trafficking cases and victim referral coordination with district and provincial coordination groups, and referred all identified victims to care. The government did not formally sign its national action plan or referral mechanism or begin their implementation.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Niger funded the National Agency for the Fight Against Trafficking and Illegal Migrant Transport, which subsequently trained judges and law enforcement officers, conducted public awareness campaigns, gathered statistics on anti-trafficking prosecutions, and partnered with an international organization to open the first shelter for trafficking victims in Niger. Many government entities, however, continued to conflate trafficking and smuggling crimes and did not proactively target, investigate, or prosecute cases of hereditary slavery.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Nigeria investigated, prosecuted, and convicted traffickers; the Borno State government signed as a witness and began to implement an action plan between the United Nations and the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to end CJTF’s recruitment and use of child soldiers; and officials collaborated with international organizations on anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. It did not, however, take steps to address reported use of children in support roles by elements of the Nigerian Army in isolated cases, investigate or prosecute any officials or non-government actors for alleged child soldiering offenses among the CJTF, or report prosecutions of any individuals for alleged sexual exploitation of IDPs.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Rwanda expanded its network of One-Stop centers that assist victims of gender-based violence and trafficking, continued its close collaboration with international organizations and local NGOs to raise awareness of trafficking and provide services to trafficking victims, and reported an increase in the percentage of investigations that moved forward to prosecution, as well as a modest increase in the percentage of convicted trafficking offenders. However, the government did not systematically identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, offer long-term care for victims of all forms of trafficking, or have a national trafficking victim referral mechanism, and reported low investigative and prosecutorial capacity, specifically for collecting evidence and victim testimonies.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Senegal elevated its child protection body to the ministerial level by including it in the newly renamed Ministry of Good Governance and Child Protection. The government did not, however, target, investigate, prosecute, or convict any traffickers and discontinued the anti-begging campaign it had initiated in 2016 due to lack of funding.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP report, the Government of Swaziland, in partnership with an international organization, trained frontline responders on the National Referral Mechanism and the role of the anti-trafficking Secretariat in identifying and referring potential victims of trafficking. While the government partnered with an international organization to develop an updated national action plan, it did not finalize this plan and, in the interim, continued efforts to update and implement its previous plan.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of The Gambia, in cooperation with international donors, provided capacity training to its officials and raised public awareness of trafficking through mass media outlets. The government did not vigorously investigate, prosecute, or convict traffickers; develop standard procedures for identifying trafficking victims; or provide adequate funding and resources to the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons to ensure effective implementation of the national action plan on trafficking.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP report, the Government of Zambia launched investigations into alleged forced labor of foreign nationals throughout the country and reconstituted an inter-ministerial committee, which included the appointment of new anti-trafficking focal points. However, the government’s anti-trafficking efforts remained inhibited by an anti-trafficking law that does not conform to the UN TIP Protocol, a lack of provincial-level law enforcement capacity to identify potential trafficking victims, and a low level of understanding of the crime in rural communities.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP report, the Government of Zimbabwe convicted three traffickers for exploiting four Mozambican children. However, the government did not amend its anti-trafficking law to be consistent with the UN TIP Protocol, as the current legal definition of trafficking requires cross-border movement.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Burma worked on a new draft TIP law that aims to align legal definitions with international standards and strengthen victim identification procedures; continued investigations and prosecutions against traffickers; continued child soldier identification and demobilization; and, with support from a foreign government, published and disseminated law enforcement guidelines designed to cease punishment of trafficking victims. However, a former child soldier was arrested after speaking out about his experiences (although the charges were eventually dropped); the military has not addressed practices that are permissive of trafficking; the government continued to block the United Nations from signing agreements to conduct child demobilization work with ethnic armed groups, whose widespread child soldier recruitment and use continued; and the government did not fully address the new trafficking vulnerabilities created by the military operation in northern Rakhine State and resulting mass displacement of civilians.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Hong Kong expanded a pilot victim identification program to additional agencies and police districts, and it designated prosecutors to focus exclusively on trafficking cases. However, the government did not enact legislation criminalizing all forms of trafficking or vigorously prosecute traffickers and unscrupulous employment agencies that work with foreign domestic workers.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Laos has entered into the ASEAN Convention on TIP (ACTIP); conducted extensive trainings nationwide on ACTIP, its new National Action Plan (NAP), and the new anti-trafficking law; and signed new or revised MOUs with Thailand, Vietnam, and China to improve cross-border cooperation on trafficking, but it is unclear to what extent some of these MOUs were implemented. The Lao government’s collaboration with local civil society organizations has been limited due to restrictive policies, including a long-stalled new Decree on Non-Profit Associations.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China investigated potential sex trafficking crimes and held trainings for police, immigration, social welfare, and health officials. However, there were no prosecutions or convictions under the trafficking law.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands passed new legislation that criminalizes all forms of trafficking in persons and increases the penalty for trafficking crimes, trained law enforcement officials to implement the law, engaged in anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns, and strengthened its efforts to fund and administer protective services for victims. However, law enforcement did not proactively target, investigate, or prosecute any potential traffickers.
Papua New Guinea
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Papua New Guinea trained law enforcement officers and interagency partners on victim identification and referral processes and increased public awareness campaigns in coordination with civil society. However, the government reported not identifying any new cases during this interim assessment period.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Thailand convicted 62 individuals, including a high-ranking military officer and 10 other government officials, for human trafficking and related crimes in connection with mass graves discovered on the border with Malaysia in 2015, and made efforts to improve screening for victims in vulnerable populations by training multi-disciplinary teams and interpreters. However, the government provisionally reported an apparent decrease in the number of overall victims identified and trafficking prosecutions compared to the same period of the previous year.
EUROPE AND EURASIA
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Bulgaria increased assistance available to trafficking victims, including specialized services for child victims, and enhanced its efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including sensitivity training to magistrates, lawyers, and law enforcement officials on human trafficking, though additional training is needed. The government did not grant financial compensation to victims and continued to subject victims to proceedings requiring them to face their traffickers repeatedly, risking re-traumatization.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Hungary modestly increased financial support for one temporary shelter that serves trafficking victims, established an online database for collecting information on trafficking, and implemented training programs for police on victim identification and protection funded by the European Union. The government did not institute procedures to screen all individuals in prostitution for trafficking indicators or protect them from punishment for crimes committed as a result of their trafficking, support specialized shelters and services for children, or increase identification of and assistance for child victims, including unaccompanied minors and children in state-run child care institutions, exploited within Hungary.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Luxembourg doubled its staffing for the department for organized crime within the Judicial Police, which has the responsibility for anti-trafficking efforts, identified six potential victims, and continued to provide dedicated funding to the Inter-ministerial Committee on Trafficking. The Government of Luxembourg has not eased requirements for non-EU trafficking victims to work in Luxembourg, and courts continued to partially suspend convicted traffickers’ prison sentences.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Moldova initiated 76 new criminal cases, including two involving complicit government officials, and increased the number of prosecutors dedicated to trafficking investigations. The Government of Moldova has not codified an exemption to the legal requirement for trafficking victims to face their exploiter in person before an investigation can begin, nor has it made efforts to protect victims and witnesses from bribery and intimidation.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Montenegro indicted two suspects under Article 444 of the Criminal Code and identified a 12-year-old victim. The government has not reported any convictions under Article 444 for the past three years.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Serbia adopted a national anti-trafficking strategy and action plan, elevating the national coordinator for combating TIP to a full-time position, and providing adequate staff and resources for the coordinator. The government has not formalized victim identification procedures or updated the national referral mechanism, nor has it amended the law to mandate non-penalization of victims of human trafficking.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Algeria drafted a new bill to strengthen its anti-trafficking laws and developed a national database on trafficking cases across security services. However, the government did not yet implement standardized procedures for relevant officials to proactively identify and provide appropriate protection services to victims.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Iraq reopened a shelter with properly-trained staff to assist trafficking victims and it participated in public dialogue sessions convened by a local anti-trafficking civil society organization. However, the government did not address deficiencies in implementing its 2012 anti-trafficking law, investigate allegations that certain Popular Mobilization Forces’ units had recruited and used child soldiers, or adequately identify and refer trafficking victims to protection services.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Kuwait launched an anti-trafficking division within the Public Prosecutor’s office, invested in a national awareness campaign to educate employers on the rights of workers, and expanded protective services for vulnerable workers. However, the government has yet to implement a national referral mechanism, drafted earlier this year, which aims to improve intergovernmental coordination on managing trafficking cases from start to finish, or approve its National Action Plan.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Oman launched a national public awareness campaign intended to inform the public about indicators of human trafficking and educate potential victims of their rights, and conducted intragovernmental trainings on victim identification, investigation techniques, and prosecution mechanisms. However, the government did not amend the sponsorship-based employment scheme that renders expatriate workers vulnerable to exploitation, and the draft National Action Plan remained pending review by the Council of Ministers.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Saudi Arabia has continued to prosecute, convict, and stringently sentence trafficking offenders under the anti-trafficking law and allocated resources toward its four-year National Action Plan on combating human trafficking. However, the government did not yet implement its national action plan to completion, including efforts to expand engagement with source country governments to prevent trafficking and to assist with repatriation of victims.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Bangladesh passed implementing rules addressing labor migrant requirements in the 2013 Overseas Employment and Migrants Act and reported a consistent number of victims identified from January through June 2017 compared to the same time period in 2016. However, implementing rules regarding both labor recruitment agencies and the recruitment process remained pending and the Ministry of Social Welfare reported it had not provided any services to trafficking victims in 2017 despite the official availability of services to child victims or the influx of vulnerable stateless persons.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Pakistan indicted a judge and his wife on six counts, including child imprisonment, related to a case of alleged child domestic servitude, and the Balochistan Assembly adopted a resolution to establish an additional six shelters for women and children victims of violence, including trafficking victims. However, the government has not yet finalized and passed comprehensive trafficking legislation that prohibits and penalizes all forms of human trafficking, continuing to hinder the government’s development of standard operating procedures on victim identification and referral to rehabilitation services.
Antigua and Barbuda
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda hired a legal expert to head the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat and trained a number of local government workers on trafficking. The government did not develop joint and agency specific standard operating procedures for all government agencies and relevant NGOs.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Bolivia signed new agreements with regional partners to cooperate on human trafficking and other transnational crime in border areas, increased trafficking-specific public awareness campaigns, and provided facilities and personnel for an international organization-led specialized training of law enforcement officials on investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons. However, it did not provide comprehensive, specialized services for trafficking victims and has yet to allocate the funding required by its national action plan.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Cuba reported collaborating with governments in the region to identify cases of sex trafficking and forced labor of Cuban nationals and offered training to Cuban government officials on how to identify and prevent cases of trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, and forced labor. The government did not amend its laws to criminalize all forms of trafficking, leaving a particular gap for forced labor; did not create policies or procedures to screen for indicators of forced labor within the government-run labor sector; and did not report any forced labor prosecutions or convictions.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Guatemala established five new partnerships with district governments and revamped the Inter-institutional Commission against Trafficking in Persons, developed a handbook to guide official responses to trafficking victims that formally designates procedures for inter-agency coordination, and provided training on human trafficking for judges and non-governmental victims services organizations in six of the country’s departments. The government did not take action to restructure the country’s shelter system, allocate needed additional funds for specialized victim services, or significantly improve access or quality of services for trafficking victims.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Guyana secured one conviction for human trafficking, trained law enforcement prosecutors on victim identification, and formed a Community Advocates Program through which social workers train village leaders in the interior of the country and mining regions on issues including identification of trafficking indicators. Government funding and staffing of the Ministry of Social Protection’s anti-TIP unit remained low and insufficient, while specialized victim services remained limited.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Haiti investigated the alleged trafficking of 25 children for the purpose of domestic servitude, continued to expand its foster care program, and drafted a five-year national anti-trafficking action plan. The government did not make significant progress in prosecuting and convicting human traffickers or in developing sufficient services for human trafficking victims.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Nicaragua publicly shared some trafficking statistics for the first time in two years and hosted a meeting with representatives of the regional anti-trafficking in persons coalition. The government reportedly imposed arbitrary constraints on some NGO shelters and anti-trafficking civil society organizations and did not take any steps to amend its 2014 anti-trafficking law, reactivate its National Coalition against Trafficking in Persons, create a formal mechanism for identifying and referring trafficking victims, or dedicate resources to victim assistance.
Since the release of the 2017 TIP Report, the Government of Suriname investigated and prosecuted multiple ongoing trafficking cases, passed legislation providing more oversight of employment agencies, and identified services and reintegration support for victims. Despite productive anti-trafficking efforts at the working level, a turnover of a senior government official impeded anti-trafficking efforts for the first half of the reporting period, and enforcement in the interior and in the informal labor sector remained inadequate.