Section 110(b)(2)(D) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) (22 U.S.C. 7107(b)(2)(D)) requires a country on Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years that has not been upgraded to Tier 2 to be included in the following year’s report as Tier 3. This “automatic downgrade” provision resulted from a 2008 amendment to the TVPA that went into effect beginning with the 2009Trafficking in Persons Report. The governments of Tier 3 countries are those governments that do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so, per 110(b) (1)(C) of the TVPA (22 U.S.C. 7107(b)(1)(C).
Section 110(b)(2)(D) 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 this provision to the Secretary of State.
Explanations of the Determinations Regarding Each of the Nine Countries:
Antigua and Barbuda: The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has adopted the National Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, 2016-2018. The plan establishes a framework for the government’s anti-trafficking efforts in terms of prevention, prosecution, and protection. To prevent trafficking in persons, the plan directs the government to increase training and awareness for government officials and the general public. The government will enhance screening measures and incorporate trafficking into training curriculum for police recruits. The plan instructs the government to refocus on trafficking investigations and prosecutions, including by establishing an anti-trafficking office within its police force. In order to improve victim protection, the plan directs the government to strengthen its victim-centered approach. In addition, police will strengthen relationships with NGOs that provide services and shelter to victims of trafficking. The government has committed resources towards the implementation of the plan.
Bolivia: During the reporting period, the Government of Bolivia restructured its 2015‑2019 smuggling and trafficking national action plan for the 2016-2020 plan, which lays out eight objectives with sub-goals to be met under each one: (1) inform and educate the population about trafficking and smuggling in persons; (2) generate the conditions for the reintegration of victims; (3) guarantee victim rights related to trafficking in persons; (4) train operating administrators of justice; (5) provide prompt and effective justice with respect to trafficking and smuggling in persons; (6) promote mechanisms of international coordination to combat trafficking and smuggling in persons; (7) produce and manage knowledge; and (8) build an institutional environment favorable to the combat of trafficking and smuggling in persons.
Bulgaria: The Government of Bulgaria approved the 2017-2021 National Anti-Trafficking Strategy and adopted its 2017 Annual National Action Plan. The National Strategy calls for the government to increase prevention and prosecution efforts and punishment of trafficking crimes; focus on analysis-based anti-trafficking measures; strengthen legal and institutional mechanisms addressing trafficking crimes, including through EU-wide law enforcement cooperation; and establish a system of procedures ensuring identification, protection, support, and reintegration of trafficking victims. The Action Plan directs the government to increase the capacity of local anti-trafficking commissions; conduct campaigns to raise awareness; and train police, prosecutors, judges, and other relevant officials.
Cuba: The Government of Cuba published a national anti-trafficking action plan for 2017 through 2020 with the objectives of amending legislation to comprehensively address trafficking in persons; strengthening law enforcement responsiveness and investigative effectiveness; increasing public awareness of trafficking; providing more differentiated government services to the most vulnerable trafficking victims, particularly, children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities; engaging civil society and community groups in supporting the government’s work to prevent trafficking; and ensuring that Cuba adheres to international best practices in combatting trafficking. The written plan directs specific agencies to lead implementation of specific objectives.
Gabon: The Government of Gabon drafted and finalized a 2016-2017 national action plan to combat child trafficking, to be implemented by the inter-ministerial child trafficking committee. Activities include measures to strengthen the committee, establish a child trafficking hotline, modify law 09/2004 to more closely align with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, and strengthen the capacity of the local vigilance committees to combat trafficking. The government dedicated staff and resources exclusively to the implementation of the national action plan. In June 2017, two UNICEF-funded trafficking trainings for labor inspectors will occur for 60 inspectors.
Ghana: The Government of Ghana drafted its National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Human Trafficking in Ghana. The National Plan of Action (NPA) describes specific financial resources that will be committed to both the Human Trafficking Fund and spent according to the terms of the Human Trafficking Act of 2005, as well as financial resources to be spent specifically on shelters. The NPA will be published in the third quarter of 2017.
Laos: The Government of Laos developed its Action Plan on Prevention and Countering Human Trafficking 2016-2020. The plan prescribes government efforts to enhance bilateral and multi-lateral coordination on trafficking issues, as well as cooperation with international organizations and NGOs. It outlines how the government will conduct campaigns to raise awareness and establish a trafficking hotline. In addition, it directs the government to strengthen capacity for law enforcement officials to identify victims and prosecute traffickers, including by enhancing coordination among law enforcement agencies and victim service providers. To protect victims, the plan instructs the government to provide shelters and comprehensive services and establish a fund for victim support.
Pakistan: In December 2016, the government amended and approved Pakistan’s Strategic Framework for Combating Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling. The framework spans 2016 through 2020 and delegates tasks and timelines to responsible government agencies. Although the plan also encompasses government efforts to combat migrant smuggling, anti-trafficking-specific tasks for the prosecution of traffickers, protection of victims, and prevention of trafficking are clearly set forth. The government has devoted resources to the plan and has already begun implementation of several objectives.
Saudi Arabia: The Government of Saudi Arabia finalized a national anti-trafficking action plan in January 2017. The government allocated $9,600,000 (SAR 36,000,000) to implement the action plan. Through specific activities and relevant ministries, the plan addresses prevention, protection, and prosecution, as well as strengthening bilateral and multilateral agreements on trafficking in persons.