2016 Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment

Report
Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
March 2, 2016


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 2015 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 2015 TIP Report, 46 countries were placed on the Special Watch List. As required by the TVPA, the Special Watch List is comprised of countries that either (1) had moved up a tier from the 2014 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.

Tier Process

The Department placed each of the countries or territories included in the 2015 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.

The Tiers

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 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.

AFRICA (14)

Botswana

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Botswana conducted public awareness events, law enforcement trainings, and, in December 2015, issued indictments in two potential trafficking cases, marking the first usage of Botswana’s trafficking law to proactively prosecute and punish offenders. The government has not yet developed a system to proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them to care.

Burkina Faso

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Burkina Faso reinvigorated efforts to investigate trafficking offenses, including those committed by traffickers posing as Koranic school teachers, and reported nine convictions. Government agencies responsible for combating trafficking still lacked adequate funding to carry out their mandates.

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to implement its UN-backed action plan to end the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers by the national army and investigate those accused of child soldiering crimes; raised awareness of human trafficking through workshops and trainings; and ensured the identification, removal, demobilization, and care for thousands of children associated with armed groups. The government did not develop legislation to comprehensively prohibit and punish all forms of trafficking, provide comprehensive services to victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, adopt an action plan to combat all forms of trafficking, or develop procedures for proactive identification of trafficking victims and their subsequent referral to care.

Congo, Republic of the

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of the Republic of Congo developed a module for training social workers on identifying and referring victims. The government did not enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, increase its efforts to investigate and prosecute offenses, or hold a special session of the high court to hear the trafficking case backlog.

Ghana

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Ghana presented the 2005 Human Trafficking Act Legislative Instrument to Parliament, where it is pending approval. The government did not provide trafficking-specific training to Ghanaian officials, did not sufficiently fund law enforcement efforts and protective victim services, and did not take appropriate measures to regulate the activity of licensed and unlicensed recruitment agencies, particularly those recruiting Ghanaian women for jobs in Gulf countries.

Gabon

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Gabon expanded training for officials on child trafficking and the inter-ministerial committee on child trafficking established regional anti-trafficking committees in several provincial capitals. The government did not include the trafficking of adults as a focus in trainings and general inter-ministerial efforts.

Guinea

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Guinea’s interagency anti-trafficking committee continued to develop its draft national action plan. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for trafficking offenses.

Djibouti

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Djibouti drafted new anti-trafficking legislation in consultation with donor-funded legal experts to bring the law closer to the requirements of international law. The government also partnered with international organizations to train officials on victim assistance standards and strengthen the justice system’s response to trafficking crimes. The government did not fully implement its national action plan, identify any potential trafficking victims, or investigate, prosecute, or convict any trafficking offenders.

Lesotho

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Lesotho enacted implementing regulations for its 2011 anti-trafficking act, entered into cross-border labor agreements with South Africa to identify individuals who may be vulnerable to trafficking and facilitate the legal movement of workers between the two countries, and engaged in anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns. The government of Lesotho did not address significant jurisdictional and fiscal constraints that impede efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases.

Mali

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Mali co-hosted an anti-trafficking training for approximately 75 law enforcement and justice sector personnel, reconvened its national anti-trafficking committee, appointed a national anti-trafficking coordinator, and disseminated copies of the 2012 anti-trafficking law to every judge in the country. The government did not allocate funds to implement its national action plan and Malian officials did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any suspected traffickers.

Mauritius

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Mauritius established an Attorney General-led inter-ministerial committee to increase coordination among government entities to combat human trafficking, and conducted an anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials, in partnership with an international organization. The government did not establish procedures to guide officials in proactive victim identification among at-risk populations or update its national action plan to combat trafficking.

Namibia

Since the release of the 2015 report, the Government of Namibia obtained its first trafficking conviction; investigated at least eight additional potential trafficking cases; trained officials on victim-centered investigations and prosecutions; and established a national anti-trafficking committee, chaired by the deputy prime minister. The government did not enact anti-trafficking legislation or develop systematic procedures for the proactive identification of victims and their subsequent referral to care.

Sudan

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Sudan sustained efforts to train law enforcement officials, members of the judiciary, and other government officials resulting in increased investigation and prosecution of suspected trafficking cases and public awareness of trafficking issues. The government did not adequately differentiate between trafficking and smuggling crimes in its law enforcement and protection efforts, leading to a failure to address forms of trafficking that do not involve transnational movement, and did not finalize its a national action plan.

Tanzania

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Tanzania arrested and charged two suspected traffickers under its anti-trafficking law, increased communication between government agencies to encourage more stringent penalties for trafficking offenders, and allocated a budget to implement its national action plan to combat trafficking. Tanzania did not implement recommended training programs for judicial, police, and immigration officials on anti-trafficking best practices and procedures; and did not complete the prosecution of a trafficking offender under the 2008 anti-trafficking law.

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC (8)

Burma

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Burma demobilized 93 children from the Burmese Army and deployed Department of Social Welfare case managers to all local offices to facilitate victims’ referral to service providers. The government did not report any criminal prosecutions of government or military perpetrators of internal trafficking offenses.

Cambodia

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Cambodia began to implement a system for monitoring, collecting, and reporting anti-trafficking arrest and prosecution data. The government did not issue formal guidance authorizing the use of undercover techniques in the investigation and prosecution of those complicit in human trafficking.

China

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of the People’s Republic of China amended its criminal code to address some of the gaps in the definition of trafficking-related crimes and approved a national victim identification system. The government continued to frame its efforts around an anti-trafficking definition which differs significantly from that found in the 2000 UN TIP Protocol and there are ongoing reports of cases of forced repatriation of trafficking victims and of use of forced labor outside of the penal process in government detention centers.

Laos

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Laos reported assisting 200 trafficking victims. The government did not finalize new anti-trafficking legislation or develop a mechanism for victims to seek restitution from traffickers.

Malaysia

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Malaysia brought into force its anti-trafficking law as a first step to reform its flawed victim protection regime, consulted with civil society and international experts to draft implementing regulations for the new law, and began implementing a previously stalled pilot project enabling trafficking victims to live and work outside government shelters. The government did not enforce laws prohibiting the retention of employees’ passports by employers or identify labor trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, and it secured only four convictions against individuals with offenses related to the anti-trafficking law.

Papua New Guinea

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Papua New Guinea finalized and piloted the National Action Plan and standard operating procedures for the identification, referral, and prosecution of trafficking cases. The government did not convict any traffickers or investigate or prosecute any officials who facilitate or benefit from human trafficking.

Solomon Islands

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Solomon Islands finalized, endorsed, and disseminated its national action plan for combating trafficking in persons and recognized as an official entity the government’s Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee. The government did not initiate any trafficking prosecutions or convict any traffickers.

Timor-Leste

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Timor-Leste conducted several investigations of trafficking offenses and initiated at least two prosecutions against suspected traffickers; its judiciary upheld the guilty verdict for a village chief who had been convicted of human trafficking the previous year. The government did not enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation or conduct training for prosecutors and judges.

EUROPE AND EURASIA (3)

Portugal

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Portugal continued to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, as evidenced by several arrests and indictments, including a major operation involving over 100 victims and 18 arrested suspects. The government continued to fund victim services, support three shelters dedicated to TIP victims, and offer child victims care. In some cases, Portuguese authorities need to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes as such, rather than as minor offenses which carry a lesser burden of proof.

Bulgaria

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Bulgaria improved its national coordination of anti-trafficking efforts, by appointing an acting Secretary General of the National Commission Against Trafficking in Humans, raising public awareness of trafficking in persons, and allocating resources to re-open two state-owned trafficking shelters for women. The government did not proactively target, investigate, or prosecute government officials complicit in trafficking, nor did it provide comprehensive services for male victims of trafficking.

Ukraine

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Ukraine, in cooperation with international partners, increased training for judges, law enforcement officials, and prosecutors on human trafficking issues and to enhance their ability to identify and officially recognize trafficking victims, particularly from among the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable persons displaced internally by Russian aggression in the country. The Ukrainian government did not, however, vigorously investigate trafficking offenses or prosecute or convict traffickers or officials complicit in trafficking.

NEAR EAST (5)

Egypt

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Egypt announced a decision to designate specialized judges to hear trafficking cases within every appeals court nationwide, began the procurement process for a new shelter for trafficking victims, and strengthened the national victim referral mechanism by establishing a new Combatting Trafficking Unit. The government did not provide updated statistics on prosecutions and convictions of trafficking offenders.

Lebanon

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Lebanon increased collaboration with an NGO to identify, refer, and protect trafficking victims; received facilitated trainings from international and non-governmental organizations on case investigation techniques and victim protection mechanisms for the judiciary, law enforcement officials, and armed forces; and launched public awareness campaigns. Due to Lebanon’s ongoing political paralysis, the Cabinet did not approve crucial legislative measures, including the draft National Action Plan, the National Strategy for Combating Trafficking, the Standard Operating Procedures for Identification and Referral, a labor law amendment extending legal protections to foreign workers, or a draft law providing increased labor protections to domestic workers.

Qatar

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Qatar launched and implemented an electronic Wage Protection System to guarantee timely payment of wages; enacted legislation that reforms its sponsorship system, effective December 2016; increased labor inspections of worker accommodations and worksites; and promoted bilateral agreements as a tool to fight contract substitution. The government did not appoint a formal government lead for anti-trafficking efforts nor update its national action plan, provide statistics on the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions for forced labor offenses, or enact specific labor protections for domestic workers.

Saudi Arabia

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Saudi Arabia trained officials on identifying forced labor and sex trafficking victims; operated a hotline for migrant workers; and enacted amendments to the labor law to enhance labor inspections and increase penalties against passport retention and labor law violations. The government did not fully implement several existing anti-trafficking reforms, such as the final tranche of its Wage Protection System.

Tunisia

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Tunisia submitted to Parliament draft anti-trafficking legislation that incorporated input from multiple ministries and civil society organizations. The government continued to train officials and launched a national anti-TIP awareness campaign, but it did not provide statistics on arrests or prosecutions of trafficking offenders under existing statutes.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA (5)

Maldives

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Maldives adopted a national action plan to combat human trafficking and drafted guidelines on victim identification and protection services. While police began investigating four cases of human trafficking, at the close of 2015 Maldives had not yet prosecuted any trafficking cases.

Pakistan

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Pakistan announced a crackdown on human trafficking and hosted a regional anti-trafficking conference in partnership with an international organization and its Federal Investigative Agency issued a memo to its provincial-level offices emphasizing the need for anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. However, an anti-trafficking bill drafted in 2013 to address gaps in the current law remains pending in ministerial committees and the Ministry of Interior has not finalized or approved the draft national action plan to combat trafficking.

Sri Lanka

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Sri Lanka ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. However, the government has not yet finalized its draft national plan, has not developed means to provide specialized services to male victims of trafficking, and continues to hold child victims in juvenile detention facilities until they can be placed in state-run or state-approved homes.

Turkmenistan

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Turkmenistan continued efforts to finalize and adopt a national anti-trafficking action plan. The government continued to lack standard operating procedures and formal systems for identifying and referring trafficking victims for assistance, and government support for victim services remained inadequate.

Uzbekistan

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Uzbekistan has continued to enforce effectively the prohibition of forced child labor during the cotton harvest; allowed third party monitoring through the International Labour Organization of the annual harvest; permitted State Department monitors to observe the harvest; and approved a government action plan for improving labor conditions. However, the government did not succeed in prohibiting the mobilization of teachers and medical workers as a step towards reducing the mobilization of adults in the annual harvest.

WESTERN HEMISPHERE (11)

Antigua & Barbuda

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda amended the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act of 2010 to correct a flaw that inhibited human trafficking convictions. However, the government has not yet prosecuted any traffickers under the newly amended law.

The Bahamas

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas initiated three human trafficking prosecutions, identified three foreign national trafficking victims, and continued to exhibit strong political will to combat trafficking by ensuring prosecutions move forward and victims are provided with assistance. However, the government should enhance its partnerships with NGOs to increase outreach to and victim identification among vulnerable populations.

Bolivia

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Bolivia launched a 2015-2019 national action plan to combat trafficking that covers prosecution, protection, and prevention efforts. The government did not adequately fund the plan, however, and did not obtain new trafficking convictions or improve its poor data collection on trafficking trends.

Costa Rica

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Costa Rica approved ten projects for 2016 from the fund to fight human trafficking and smuggling, which will strengthen data collection, provide equipment to investigators, and support prevention campaigns. The government made six arrests for trafficking offenses, but did not convict any traffickers and data collection for law enforcement and victim protection efforts remained inadequate.

Cuba

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Cuba identified Cuban sex trafficking victims in other countries, such as Ecuador, or in Cuban territory; and convicted a Cuban national who served as the facilitator of sex trafficking. The government did not recognize forced labor as a problem, criminalize forced labor, nor report efforts to prevent it.

Guyana

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Guyana increased the number of labor inspections by 300 percent; signed an MOU with a leading anti-trafficking NGO that allows the government to refer trafficking victims to the NGO’s shelter, to which the government has committed to provide funding; and for the first time, ordered a convicted trafficker to pay restitution to the victim. Despite an increase in labor inspections, the government reported no investigations or arrests for labor trafficking offenses, and the provision of victim services and funding to anti-trafficking NGOs remained inadequate.

Haiti

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Haiti installed an inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee to coordinate referral of trafficking cases, and published a circular to direct judges and prosecutors to refer cases to the committee. However, the government made very little progress implementing the national anti-trafficking action plan in that it did not initiate prosecutions, prevent trafficking victim penalization, or coordinate with NGOs on victim identification and services.

Jamaica

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of Jamaica secured a labor trafficking conviction resulting in financial restitution for the victims, but did not sentence the trafficker to a term of imprisonment; identified four confirmed victims of trafficking and one suspected victim; and finalized its new national anti-trafficking action plan. The government continued to revise its standard operating procedures for labor inspectors and procured the necessary resources to allow the national anti-trafficking task force and national trafficking in persons rapporteur to fulfill their mandates.

St. Vincent & Grenadines

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines made its first human trafficking arrest and indictment, identified and assisted three trafficking victims, and finalized its national anti-trafficking action plan for 2016-2018. However, the government’s trafficking victim referral process remained underdeveloped.

Suriname

Since the release of the 2015 TIP Report, Suriname’s Minister of Justice and Foreign Minister have underscored the importance of combating trafficking in persons by appointing a new anti-TIP coordinator, reconvening the TIP working group, and acquiring new office space for the police TIP unit. The government failed to open a proposed shelter for female and child victims and did not take any other steps to improve inadequate victim services.

Trinidad and Tobago

Since the release of the 2015 TIP report, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago initiated more investigations of trafficking crimes than in the previous year and initiated five prosecutions; increased by 60 percent its support to the Counter Trafficking Unit; further developed its identification and referral process, including training law enforcement and immigration officers on how to distinguish victims from criminals or illegal migrants; and launched a public awareness campaign. The government has not yet convicted a trafficker under its 2011 anti-trafficking act.