Memorandum of Justification Consistent With Section 107(A) of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 11, 2014


Section 107(a) of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-457) (2008 TVPRA) requires that a country that has been ranked Tier 2 Watch List for any two consecutive years after the enactment of the 2008 TVPRA (i.e., starting with the 2009 TIP Report), be included in the following year’s report on the “Tier 3” list of countries the governments of which do not, and are not making significant efforts to, bring themselves into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Section 107(a) authorizes the President to waive application of this automatic downgrade for up to two years if the country merits a Tier 2 Watch List ranking and he determines and reports credible evidence to the Committees on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives that such a waiver is justified because – “(i) the country has a written plan to begin making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; (ii) the plan, if implemented, would constitute making such significant efforts; and (iii) the country is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan.” On September 20, 2010, the President delegated his waiver authority under Section 107(a) to the Secretary of State.

This Memorandum provides the justification for the application of the Section 107(a) waiver authority with respect to Angola, Bahrain, Belarus, Burma, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Haiti, Kenya, Lebanon, Namibia, South Sudan, Suriname, and Turkmenistan for the 2014 TIP Report.

Explanations of the determinations regarding each of the 14 countries follow:

Angola

In May 2014, Angola’s Ambassador to the United States, Alberto do Carmo Bento Ribiero, submitted to the Department of State, a letter pledging to continue to implement the Angolan government’s multi-year written plan outlining the government’s commitment to combat trafficking through actions assigned to specific government entities. The government has begun enacting its anti-trafficking written plan by passing an anti-trafficking law in February 2014. The letter notes that this law “will serve as the legal foundation for [the government’s] activities combating Trafficking in Persons providing Angola’s first legal framework against this odious practice.” The letter commits the government to improve its judicial response to human trafficking by prosecuting human traffickers. The letter also notes the government’s planned efforts to raise awareness on human trafficking through campaigns aimed to “empower individuals and communities” against human traffickers. The government describes its planned law enforcement efforts to address trafficking crimes, including forced child labor, through training officials on victim identification and coordinating investigations with the national police, ministry of justice and human rights, the ministry of labor, and the national institute of children. The plan also commits the government to provide support for the establishment and maintenance of shelters for victims of violence, including trafficking victims. The government pledges its “support, manpower and resources to meet the objectives described” in the plan. Specifically, the government also has promised to increase the availability of shelter and psychological services to trafficking victims, as well as to use increasing media resources to inform the public about human trafficking. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Angola into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Angolan government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Angola in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Bahrain

In 2014, the Kingdom of Bahrain provided a written plan of action to support and improve current anti-trafficking measures. The Plan of the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons highlights Bahrain’s laws that are in place for the prosecution of traffickers and protection of victims, and calls for greater cooperation between the national committee to combat trafficking and law enforcement authorities. Each ministry’s responsibilities to uphold these laws are also prescribed in this plan. For example, the office of public prosecution is tasked to work with relevant authorities to gather evidence and examine them in a timely and fair manner. On victim protection, the plan requires that the ministry of social development operate a shelter with a capacity to serve 126 victims of trafficking. This shelter will also provide training and seminars to help victims find jobs and enter the workforce. The ministry of social development will establish a trafficking victims committee, which will be tasked to review the Kingdom of Bahrain’s victim assistance and protection efforts, and establish future strategies and plans to improve Bahrain’s victim services. On prevention efforts, the plan provides that specified agencies will launch general trafficking public awareness programs. The labor market regulatory authority is tasked with establishing a call center for foreign migrant workers that will accept inquiries and complaints, provide general and legal consultations, and distribute necessary information on workers’ rights. Under the plan, the national committee will conduct several awareness raising workshops for community members and religious clerics, in addition to launching media outreach efforts. The head of the national committee for combating trafficking in persons wrote a letter to Ambassador Krajeski in March 2014 that confirms the allocation of sufficient human and financial resources to implement the written plan. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Bahrain into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Kingdom of Bahrain is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Bahrain in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Belarus

The Belarusian government has a written plan to strengthen trafficking prosecutions, better protect trafficking victims, and prevent human trafficking. The State Program for Countering Crime and Corruption for 2013-2015 provides specific measures for strengthening the government’s response to trafficking. With regard to prosecution, the plan tasks the supreme court, the justice ministry, the prosecutor general’s office, and the interior ministry with assessing criminal trafficking cases to ensure uniform application of the law. To enhance victim protection, the plan tasks the interior ministry, health ministry, labor ministry, education ministry, general prosecutor’s office, and the foreign ministry, to develop a mechanism to refer victims to specialized services for rehabilitation. The plan also requires the finance ministry and other government partners to submit a proposal for state financing of NGOs that provide victim assistance. On prevention, the plan contemplates raising awareness of human trafficking through the media, as well as conducting outreach events to prevent human trafficking. The plan addresses resources through the involvement of the finance ministry, including by specifying that the finance ministry will allocate funds to victim protection. The implementation of these plans would greatly improve the Belarusian government’s anti-trafficking efforts. Because implementation of the written plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Belarus into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Belarusian government has devoted sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Belarus in 2014.

Burma

In 2012, the Burmese government (known locally as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) approved a written plan of action, Myanmar Second Five-Year National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking, to eliminate human trafficking in Burma by building capacities within various government agencies. The plan addresses anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts by requiring that the working group on legal framework and prosecuting measures fully implement the anti-trafficking in persons law, establishing sentencing guidelines to deter trafficking, and training law enforcement and judicial officials in identifying trafficking victims and responding to trafficking situations. On protection, the plan calls for the implementation of the national guideline, which requires relevant agencies to identify the assistance and protection needs of trafficking victims and standardize the availability of these services through a coordinating body. The plan proposes constructing five trafficking shelters to expand protection and rehabilitation services and providing employment opportunities for trafficking victims. On prevention, the plan establishes targeted educational campaigns in 42 townships that have had the highest prevalence of trafficking reported in the last five years, and calls for the government to work closely with community leaders, migrant workers, children, celebrities, and news media for effective awareness raising efforts. The Burmese government has begun implementing these steps, such as forming a dedicated anti-trafficking police division. Individual ministries within the Burmese government will be allocated yearly funding from the funds established in accordance with Section (22) of the anti-trafficking in persons law. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Burma into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Burmese government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Burma in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Burundi

In March 2014, the Burundian government submitted a national action plan to combat trafficking, Plan d’Action National Pour La Lutte Contre La Traite et le Trafic des Etres Humains, 2014-2017. The plan calls for the adoption of the draft anti-trafficking legislation and for the establishment of a body of judges to specialize in trafficking cases. These judges, along with other law enforcement officials, will be specifically trained in anti-trafficking law. In regard to protection and assistance efforts, the plan includes the development of reintegration programs and formalized mechanisms for victim protection, including psychosocial and medical programs, as well as the establishment of funds that victims can access. The plan also proposes developing a prevention strategy that includes both conducting studies on human trafficking in the country and training programs for responsible administrators, community leaders, and vulnerable groups. The plan requires the coordinating commission to appoint a secretariat that will be responsible for ensuring that the anti-trafficking strategy is implemented. The plan assigns the responsible and supporting ministries, and marshals additional resources from international organizations and outside funding. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Burundi into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Burundian government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Burundi in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Comoros

In May 2013, the Government of the Union of the Comoros presented an action plan to the Department of State; this plan continues through 2014. The plan commits the government to apply existing laws in the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of trafficking offenders and consider adoption of specific laws on trafficking in persons. In addition, the plan highlights efforts to increase government capacity to protect victims through the development of procedures to identify victims and subsequently refer them to care. With regard to prevention, the government pledges to conduct awareness raising campaigns among officials and the public. Specifically, the plan directs the government to: 1) submit the draft penal code, which includes a trafficking provision; 2) establish a trafficking in persons working group; and 3) draft victim referral guidelines for police and social workers. The government began enacting its plan by establishing an anti-trafficking commission in July 2013, a body that provides overall direction to anti-trafficking efforts. The government also committed resources, by allocating staff, office space, and equipment to the Morals and Minors Brigades on the islands of Moheli and Anjouan, and allowing these units to carry out their anti-trafficking mission on islands where they previously did not have a presence. The government also dedicated human resources by assigning specific personnel from named ministries to carry out the tasks of devising guidelines, training materials, and legislative revisions. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring the Comoros into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Government of the Union of the Comoros is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for the Comoros in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Djibouti

In March 2014, the Djiboutian government submitted a written plan entitled National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Protect Trafficking Victims – Djibouti (2014-2015), which outlines Djibouti’s strategies to combat trafficking. The plan establishes an executive secretariat to be the lead in coordinating across government agencies and implementing Djiboutian human trafficking policies. The plan charges the executive secretariat with establishing several working groups, including groups that specifically monitor prosecution and protection efforts. The plan envisions the development of a national system for the identification and referral of victims to care, on which all frontline responders would be trained. In improving the provision of services, the ministry of health will work to establish care standards. The plan also commits the government to hold targeted awareness events and develop standard operating procedures for the investigation of trafficking crimes. The plan designates the executive secretariat, along with the council of ministers, foreign donors, and UN Office of Drugs and Crime, to fund and support these proposed efforts. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Djibouti into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Djiboutian government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Djibouti in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Haiti

In April 2014, the Haitian government provided a written plan outlining the steps it intends to take to enhance its activities to combat trafficking in 2014. The action plan, drafted by the government’s social welfare ministry, the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), describes its mandate as: care for trafficking victims; the establishment of a monitoring framework on trafficking; and interagency collaboration on trafficking. The plan covers prosecution of trafficking offenders, protection of trafficking victims, and prevention of human trafficking. Regarding prosecution, the plan contemplates passage and promulgation of a human trafficking law. Haiti’s first anti-trafficking law was unanimously approved and enacted June 2, 2014. The plan commits to a review of the standard operating procedures for the care of human trafficking victims and envisions including additional civil society partners in victim protection. Further, the written plan commits the government to improving trafficking victim identification by promoting the “133” hotline to the public. The government also commits to collaborating with the Dominican Republic in safely repatriating Haitian children who have been subjected to trafficking in the Dominican Republic. To prevent human trafficking, the government plans to conduct national public education and awareness campaigns. The written plan also commits the government to conduct a survey of children vulnerable to human trafficking. The plan includes a government commitment to a budget for each of the activities it lists. Furthermore, the government commits to providing support to national and community-based organizations working on human trafficking throughout the country. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Haiti into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Government of Haiti is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Haiti in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Kenya

In 2014, the Kenyan government provided The National Plan of Action for Combatting Human Trafficking: Strategic Framework 2011-2015, which serves as a strategic framework to address human trafficking in Kenya. The plan calls for the establishment of the counter-trafficking in persons advisory committee and sets priorities across each of the “3Ps” of anti-trafficking activities. The plan commits the government to disseminate the anti-trafficking law to government and law enforcement officials to increase awareness, and training for the investigation and prosecution bodies to increase law enforcement capacity. For victim protection, the plan charges the Kenyan government with developing formal guidelines for victim identification and referral services. The plan introduces the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a cooperative framework in which state actors commit to a strategic partnership with civil society when assisting victims of trafficking. The Kenyan government will also identify current service providers and produce a working directory that can be used by stakeholders when assisting victims. The plan describes service-provider training that focuses on prevention of revictimization and reintegration of victims into society. The advisory committee is tasked to conduct national awareness raising campaigns that target specific vulnerable populations, and to evaluate the effectiveness of those campaigns, as part of an ongoing effort to prevent trafficking. The plan provides an estimated budget for two consecutive years that allows ministries to conduct anti-trafficking efforts without constraining their current budget. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Kenya into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Kenyan government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Kenya in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Lebanon

The Lebanese government set forth a written plan, The General Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Lebanon, that describes the government’s activities to fight trafficking along four axes: 1) prevention; 2) pursuit, investigation procedures, and punishment; 3) assistance and protection of victims; and 4) continuous monitoring, follow-up, and evaluation. On “prevention,” the government plans to increase awareness of the crime in the general society through the media, educational curricula, cultural events with civil society and foreign missions, political parties, and religious authorities. The written plan also calls for specialized training and capacity building of the authorities responsible for leading anti-trafficking efforts. On “pursuit, investigation procedures, and punishment,” the government commits to establish specialized investigative services to enhance investigation of human trafficking crimes. Regarding assistance to victims, the government plans to provide shelter for trafficking victims, psychological assistance and rehabilitation for victims through specialized and trained intervention mechanisms, and to establish special measures to protect child victims. Finally, the government will establish a body tasked with monitoring and evaluation of the government’s anti-trafficking performance and its efforts under The General Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Lebanon. Regarding resources, the government pledges to increase resource allocation to the national action plan within the regular budgets of the relevant ministries. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Lebanon into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Lebanese government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Lebanon in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Namibia

In November 2012, the Namibian government’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) provided an action plan entitled National Plan of Action on Gender-Based Violence: 2012-2016. Section 2.3.1 of this plan notes that Namibia’s “Prevention of Organized Crime Act 29 of 2004” prohibits human trafficking, though it falls short of the international standards. The plan tasks the ministries of justice and labor, along with the MGECW, to review the existing legal framework on trafficking and identify gaps that hinder effective law enforcement efforts. The plan requires the ministries to ensure that child trafficking provisions are enacted and implemented and includes the development and maintenance of a database of trafficking cases. To improve victim protection, the relevant ministries will work with civil society to develop and institute mechanisms to protect victims and will provide options for voluntary repatriation and rehabilitation. The plan calls for increasing the capacity of service providers by developing training materials and curricula that will yield high quality services. MGECW will establish a comprehensive directory of service providers that can be called upon to assist and protect trafficking victims. The plan also contemplates developing a national policy to guide a multi-sector approach on prevention of and response to human trafficking. MGECW will conduct an awareness campaigns to educate the general public and lead targeted campaigns that reach Namibia’s most vulnerable groups. The permanent secretary of the MGECW sent a letter to Chargé d’Affaires McGeehan at Embassy Windhoek March 28, 2014 regarding this plan. The letter specifies funding sources to implement these action items, ranging from individual ministries to donors. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Namibia into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Namibian government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Namibia in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

South Sudan

In May 2014, the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan provided the government’s written plan to enhance its activities against human trafficking. In that plan, the government pledges to train law enforcement agencies and judicial officials to recognize human trafficking victims among vulnerable groups. Regarding protection, the government commits to working with NGOs to care for trafficking victims, particularly children, to ensure adequate protection. Under the plan, the ministry of justice must designate a point of contact to monitor and coordinate anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in collaboration with South Sudan’s national police services. On prevention, the government promises to launch a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the crime. Finally, the government pledges to increase its efforts to investigate suspected human trafficking cases, prosecute offenses, and punish trafficking offenders. Regarding resources, the written plan notes that the government is committed to contributing funds and closely collaborating with civil society in the implementation of the plan. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring South Sudan into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the South Sudanese government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for South Sudan in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Suriname

In April 2014, the Surinamese government approved and provided a written plan to enhance the government’s activities in the fight against human trafficking: Roadmap Suriname Combatting Human Trafficking 2014-2018. The plan outlines the anti-trafficking strategy developed through discussions between the ministry of justice and police and representatives of the public sector, private sector, and civil society. In the plan, the government commits to enhance its understanding of human trafficking by collecting data on the crime, establishing a centralized database, and developing an anti-trafficking website and newsletter. The plan tasks each ministry with assigning a primary point person to combat human trafficking; these individuals will participate in interagency coordination activities, including the government’s anti-trafficking working group. The plan calls for a review of Suriname’s laws related to trafficking to identify shortcomings and necessary amendments to improve Suriname’s legal anti-trafficking framework. The plan also encourages maximum use of Suriname’s current legal and regulatory framework to combat human trafficking. The government pledges resources to implement the plan through its ministry of justice and police. The government has a specialized 14-person anti-trafficking unit in its police force, an interagency anti-trafficking working group, and ongoing effort to open a shelter for trafficking victims that may also contribute to implementation of the plan. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Suriname into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Surinamese government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Suriname in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Turkmenistan

The Turkmen government submitted a written plan outlining the activities it will undertake in 2014 to enhance its efforts against trafficking, including steps that it will undertake in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Regarding prevention, the plan outlines government efforts to support the work of hotlines in Ashgabat and Turkmenabat. Under the plan, the government will also conduct events to increase public awareness of human trafficking, including by the dissemination of informational materials. The plan describes the government’s strategy for interagency coordination against human trafficking, noting that the government will establish a working group on combating human trafficking. Regarding prosecution, the government intends to select national experts to analyze Turkmenistan’s existing legislation on human trafficking. On victim protection, the plan includes the government’s intention to support the work of a rehabilitation shelter, to assist victims with rehabilitation and reintegration, and to help repatriated trafficking victims return to their home countries. Finally, the government plans to increase capacity to counter trafficking in persons by conducting, in coordination with IOM, training and workshops for both civil society and members of the working group. Deputy Foreign Minister Hajiev told Ambassador Patterson that the government would dedicate resources to fight trafficking and enact the plan through the budget of its annual work plan. Because implementation of the plan would constitute making significant efforts to bring Turkmenistan into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and because the Turkmen government is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver is justified under Section 107(a) for Turkmenistan in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.