The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as amended (TVPA) requires the Secretary of State submit a list to Congress of countries that require special scrutiny and to provide an interim assessment of the progress made in combating TIP by the countries on that list. The assessment briefly reports on government anti-trafficking activities in the first half of the reporting period. (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 2018 TIP Report, 48 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 2017 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 2018 TIP Report on a particular tier, as mandated by the TVPA. This placement reflects an evaluation of a government’s actions to combat trafficking. The tiers are as follows:
- 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 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Angola worked to enhance its efforts to investigate and prosecute forced labor and child labor offenses as well as advance legal protection for trafficking victims by refining a draft Victim Protection Law. The government did not screen for trafficking victims at border crossing posts, however, nor did it provide comprehensive services for victims of trafficking.
Central African Republic
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of the Central African Republic signed an accord with some armed groups to release current child soldiers and stop recruiting other children. It also increased its anti-trafficking training for the Mixed Unit for Rapid Intervention and Repression of Sexual Violence to Women and Children and Special Criminal Court to ensure the government can effectively identify and prosecute trafficking cases and refer victims to care. The government did not implement the child soldiers’ reintegration national action plan, however, and most child soldiers removed from armed groups and reintegrated to their communities have since rejoined armed groups. The government did not make significant law enforcement efforts or address the increasing number of children in commercial sex and forced labor.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Chad reported initiating several prosecutions under the new anti-trafficking law. The government did not report any new trainings for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, or magistrates, however, and it did not report drafting or adopting an action plan to address human trafficking.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Eswatini initiated five prosecutions against alleged traffickers and provided care to seven identified victims. The government did not make any progress in regulating labor brokers.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of The Gambia investigated and initiated prosecution of a sex trafficking case, provided shelter for the four victims, and the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) organized training on the 2007 Trafficking in Persons Act for law enforcement officials. The government did not increase resources to NAATIP, develop or train officials on standard procedures to identify trafficking victims, or approve the amended labor law to provide protections to domestic workers.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Guinea’s anti-trafficking committee organized a workshop to train government officials and civil society partners on the national action plan to combat human trafficking for forced labor. The government did not amend the penal code to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment, however, nor did it increase resources or training to government entities responsible for coordinating anti-trafficking efforts, combating child trafficking, and investigating cases of fraudulent recruitment.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Guinea-Bissau, in partnership with an international organization, began developing a national referral mechanism to refer trafficking victims to care and partnered with NGOs and international organizations on awareness-raising campaigns. The government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any alleged traffickers, however, and did not allocate funding or resources to NGOs providing services to trafficking victims.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Liberia has investigated and initiated proceedings in a case of transnational trafficking; helped develop a curriculum for and trained law enforcement personnel on identifying and combating trafficking in persons; dedicated resources to an anti-trafficking public awareness campaign; and continued to assist citizens with registering births and obtaining identity documents. The government did not increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, or convict internal trafficking cases; pass a new national action plan; finalize the national referral mechanism or train law enforcement and social workers on its implementation.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Madagascar implemented formal procedures to identify trafficking victims and opened a new 12-person trafficking shelter. The government did not increase law enforcement efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers; did not systematically offer services to adult victims; and did not provide funding to the National Office to Combat Trafficking.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Mali began implementing a program of accelerated disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, including efforts to cease government support to armed groups that use child soldiers, cooperate with UNICEF to follow the established protocol for referring to care children allegedly associated with armed groups and released children inappropriately detained; investigated five trafficking cases, prosecuted two traffickers, and convicted one trafficker; funded two awareness trainings for community leaders; and provided a budget of FCFA 200,000,000 (approximately $350,000) to assist national countertrafficking efforts, to include in-kind support to NGOs that assist trafficking victims. The government did not report investigating or prosecuting complicit officials; train or equip law enforcement on effective case investigation techniques; develop or train officials on standardized mechanisms to identify trafficking victims; and did not finalize the draft anti-trafficking national action plan or formalize the roles of anti-trafficking committee members.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Niger increased training for judges and prosecutors on the anti-trafficking law, made progress toward a national referral mechanism, and began development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the intake and care of victims in its first-ever trafficking victim’s shelter, slated to open in 2019. The government did not implement the SOPs, the national referral mechanism, or draft a new national strategic plan.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Nigeria supported implementation of the UNICEF-Civilian Joint Task Force action plan on child soldiers, and there were no reports of continued recruitment of children; National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) initiated 314 new trafficking investigations, including investigating one case of six government officials allegedly complicit in trafficking crimes; and the government increased resources dedicated to victim care and prevention of trafficking. The government did not complete any prosecutions of government officials complicit in sexually exploiting IDPs, however, and the military reportedly impeded some ongoing investigations. The government did not initiate any investigations for recruiting and using child soldiers, or finalize the draft protocol to hand over children identified in armed conflict over to civilian authorities.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Senegal continued its ongoing campaign to remove street children, sent a draft bill on the modernization of daaras (Quranic schools) to the legislature for approval and ratification, and trained government officials and educated public communities about forced child begging. The government did not adequately investigate potential trafficking cases, however, and did not initiate any prosecutions related to the exploitation of children through forced begging.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Seychelles initiated more trafficking investigations; convicted its first trafficker under the anti-trafficking law; and established a task force through the Department of Employment to inspect migrant worker work sites, including in the Seychelles International Trade Zone. The government did not implement SOPs to systematically identify and refer trafficking victims to services; allocate funds for victim services; adopt a law prohibiting the retention of passports; or provide adequate anti-trafficking training for its personnel.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Sierra Leone began development of trainings for key partners on the referral mechanism to improve the timely delivery of services on behalf of victims and launched a labor migration policy that clarified licensing procedures for recruitment agencies. The government did not increase efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers, however, nor did it provide witness protection and support measures to encourage greater victim participation in the criminal justice process.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of South Africa’s National Intersectoral Committee on trafficking in persons approved its National Policy Framework, a strategic plan that will help government agencies improve capacity and coordination in combating trafficking in persons. The government did not increase its efforts to institute a victim-centered approach to fight trafficking or take action to address official complicity in trafficking crimes, however.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Sudan prosecuted 35 trafficking-related cases, including two cases against Sudanese officials; partnered with an international law enforcement body to conduct a joint operation that involved the rescue of 94 trafficking victims; conducted numerous trainings for law enforcement officials; and continued to work with international organizations to create committees to address child soldiering and create a mandatory and comprehensive training on the protection of children in armed conflict. The government did not amend the 2014 anti-trafficking law to criminalize sex trafficking of children in the absence of coercion, however.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Togo signed a bilateral agreement with the Government of Gabon to increase cooperation in preventing and returning victims of trafficking and established regional and criminal courts designed to speed up the prosecution of trafficking cases. The government did not report increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts or efforts to develop and implement SOPs for front-line officials in the identification and referral of victims, however.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Zimbabwe drafted amendments to its 2014 anti-trafficking law and initiated two trafficking prosecutions. The government did not offer adequate anti-trafficking training to law enforcement or judicial officials, however, nor did it provide financial or in-kind assistance for victim protection efforts.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Fiji announced dedicated resources to the police’s anti-trafficking unit and arrested two suspected traffickers in coordination with a foreign government. It did not develop victim identification guidelines, proactively screen for victims, increase efforts to prosecute trafficking crimes, or take steps to update or implement the 2011 national action plan.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Hong Kong has implemented its victim screening mechanism in all police districts, contributing to an increased number of victims identified, and found 19 employment agencies guilty of unscrupulous recruitment practices. The government did not enact comprehensive legislation to fully criminalize human trafficking, vigorously prosecute traffickers, or effectively regulate employment agencies that charge domestic workers excessive fees and oftentimes withhold their passports or contracts. There were also reports the government initiated criminal prosecutions against potential trafficking victims for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Japan has continued to increase labor inspection efforts within its guest-worker program and reissued, clarified, and expanded upon last year’s guidance instructing prosecutors to seek prison sentences vice fines in some trafficking cases. Despite credible reports of forced labor within the guest worker program, however, authorities have not identified a single case within the guest worker program, and interagency stakeholders continue to employ disparate victim screening and referral procedures, leading to concerns over inadequate victim identification.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Macau has identified and provided assistance to one victim of sex trafficking. The government has not prosecuted any traffickers or increased efforts to proactively screen for victims.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Malaysia has implemented measures to reduce forced labor and debt bondage among migrant workers through an overhaul of its worker recruitment system and labor laws and streamlined the process to allow trafficking victims to freely move in and out of shelters, resulting in more than 70 percent of the 92 confirmed victims granted this right during the current reporting period. Victim services remained inadequate as freedom of movement remained restricted to infrequent, chaperoned trips, however, and trafficking victims lacked at-will communication with family in their home country.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Mongolia has resumed funding to primary protection NGOs after a three-year hiatus; dramatically increased victim identification and assisted repatriation; taken widespread police efforts to address exploitation via social media; and issued timely convictions using new provisions of the amended criminal code. Some local authorities, however, reportedly continued to subject victims of sex trafficking under the age of 18 to administrative penalties for violations committed as a direct result of their trafficking circumstances.
EUROPE AND EURASIA
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has indicted eight traffickers from its first international investigation in cooperation with foreign authorities. The government penalized victims due to inadequate identification efforts; law enforcement pursued trafficking cases under lesser offenses; judges imposed sentences that were often under the legal minimum; and the existence of the TIP strike force was in jeopardy.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus arrested and prosecuted traffickers, identified at least 20 victims, and increased NGO participation in the Multidisciplinary Coordinating Group. Labor inspections did not adequately identify potential forced labor victims, however, and Social Welfare Services did not improve the availability of services to potential victims after business hours.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Estonia increased training for judges and prosecutors on trafficking, raising awareness on labor trafficking and aiding victims that sought legal recourse and compensation. The Government of Estonia can increase specialized training for investigators and prosecutors on applying section 133 of the penal code, which criminalized the use of force, fraud, or coercion to induce a person to engage in prostitution, begging, criminal offenses, or other labor.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Hungary has developed a new identification form for social workers who work with asylum seekers to help identify trafficking victims among the population and has trained some consular officers, law enforcement officials, and victim support staff on victim identification, protection, and prevention. The government did not report progress during the period covered by the Interim Assessment on increasing law enforcement efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, however.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Montenegro created a task force to combat TIP, drafted SOPs for the identification of trafficking victims, and trained first responders, judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials on victim identification. The government did not increase resources to fund proactive identification or create a compensation fund, integrate Romani groups in to its anti-trafficking coordination efforts, or ensure the trafficking in persons office has adequate authority or independence.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Algeria collaborated with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to hold anti-trafficking trainings, and the interministerial National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking developed a national database to track trafficking cases. The government did not proactively screen for and identify victims and remained without adequate protection services or shelters for victims of all forms of trafficking, with cases referred to civil society organizations on an ad hoc basis.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Bahrain established a Trafficking in Persons Victim’s Assistance Fund; launched a government-wide online database to track trafficking-related cases within its National Referral Mechanism; offered some domestic workers access to self-sponsorship visas; and funded a multi-day foreign-donor-led training program for police officers, judges, prosecutors, Ministry of Interior staff, and Labor Market Regulatory Authority caseworkers. The government did not further expand labor law protections to address potential trafficking crimes against domestic workers, however, and did not report increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Iraq continued to cooperate with UNICEF to develop an action plan to address the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and increased efforts to ensure sex trafficking victims were not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. The Kurdistan Regional Government passed Iraq’s 2012 anti-trafficking law (No. 28), criminalizing some forms of labor and sex trafficking. The Iraqi government did not take active steps, however, to address deficiencies in implementing its 2012 anti-trafficking law, continued to impose immigration fines on foreign victims of trafficking, and did not adequately identify Iraqi trafficking victims.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Kuwait provided services for all identified victims of trafficking; the specialized anti-trafficking division of the public prosecutor’s office prosecuted nine criminal cases involving both forced labor and sex trafficking; and the centralized recruitment agency signed bilateral labor agreements with India and the Philippines to ensure transparent recruitment practices and better work conditions for workers from those countries. The government did not yet convene its meeting of the council of ministers to formally adopt or begin implementation of its newly developed national referral mechanism, however.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Saudi Arabian government established trafficking units within the Public Prosecutor’s Office and trained officials on implementation of the 2009 anti-trafficking law. The government did not report increasing efforts to proactively investigate indicators of trafficking, such as passport withholding or employers restricting the movement of employees, or increasing numbers of prosecutions and convictions for forced labor or sex trafficking crimes.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Bangladesh finalized a draft national action plan and reported investigating, prosecuting, and convicting a significant number of traffickers relative to previous reporting periods, including investigations into suspected trafficking of Rohingya. The government’s policies on repatriation of Rohingya did not include sufficient efforts to identify or address vulnerabilities to trafficking, however, and the government did not adopt draft guidelines for referring trafficking victims to care or extend trafficking victim services to adult male victims.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Bhutan continued to support NGOs that offered services to trafficking victims and participate in awareness and training programs. The government did not take steps to amend the penal code to bring the definition of trafficking in line with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, identify any trafficking victims, or initiate any investigations into suspected trafficking cases.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Kyrgyzstan reported identification of at least three trafficking cases; increased trafficking in persons trainings for law enforcement and justice sector personnel; and established coordination councils in the seven Kyrgyz regions, consisting of government and civil society representatives. The government did not approve draft victim identification procedures or a draft national referral mechanism, however.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Maldives announced its intention to create a community-based rehabilitation network for victims of crime. The government did not take steps to adopt SOPs for victim identification and referral, however, and did not increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, or convict traffickers, including labor recruiters.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Tajikistan began to implement the national trafficking in persons referral mechanism; took custody of the country’s sole trafficking shelter and began funding an NGO to provide services there; established a training center to improve victim identification, case management, and prevention among law enforcement officials and victim support staff; adopted amendments to bring the trafficking law into compliance with international standards, and reported 57 trafficking prosecutions. The government has not fully implemented the 2014 Victim Protection Law, however, and has not formally adopted SOPs on victim identification or several policy documents developed by a joint government-civil society working group in support of the law.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Uzbekistan continued reforms aimed to eliminate forced labor in the cotton harvest by increasing wages for compensated workers, leading an information campaign to educate workers about their rights, promoting mechanization and privatization of the cotton industry, and prosecuting more than 50 traffickers and punishing 169 government officials for forced labor infractions. Government compelled forced labor in public works projects continued, however. The government’s commitment not to mobilize educational and medical institution workers was unevenly implemented, and observers remarked that the gap left by these groups was filled by the forced mobilization of other government employees, while officials involved in compelling workers were not held criminally accountable.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Argentina launched its National Plan Against Human Trafficking, continued to develop a centralized database for the management of trafficking cases, and published the first-ever Executive Council Trafficking in Persons Report. The government did not increase funding for specialized victim services, however, including comprehensive services for male victims.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Aruba dedicated some funds for anti-trafficking efforts, initiated a large labor trafficking investigation in the construction sector involving Venezuelan migrants, and started the expansion of a domestic violence shelter to include women victims of trafficking. The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers, lacked sufficient services for all identified victims of trafficking, and did not proactively identify victims of sex trafficking within vulnerable populations, such as irregular migrants.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Cuba reported efforts to investigate and prosecute sex trafficking and forced begging and offered training on human trafficking to various government officials, including law enforcement, health care workers, labor inspectors, social workers, and educators. The government did not amend its laws, however, thereby leaving in place an inadequate legal framework that does not effectively criminalize all forms of trafficking; did not implement policies to prohibit force, fraud, or coercion by foreign labor recruiters and state-owned or controlled enterprises in recruiting and retaining employees; and did not report measures to ensure identified sex and labor trafficking victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to sex trafficking or forced labor.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Guatemala launched a national awareness campaign targeting indigenous and youth populations and demonstrated significant effort to continued investigation and prosecution of traffickers. The government has not yet fully addressed ongoing claims of abuse and neglect in the national shelter system, including the implementation of proactive identification of trafficking victims in shelters, however, and specialized services for adult and child trafficking victims remain limited.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Haiti has approved a national anti-trafficking action plan, made progress on prosecuting human traffickers, and increased the number of foster parents. The government has not made progress towards implementing or funding the National Anti-Trafficking Action Plan or increasing funding for trafficking victim assistance, however.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Nicaragua investigated four potential trafficking cases and released a National Victim Assistance Strategy and its Anti-trafficking Action Plan for the 2018-2022 period. The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers, however. While the government released a strategy plan, it did not collaborate with civil society in the development of its strategy and plan.
Since the release of the 2018 TIP Report, the Government of Suriname initiated an anti-trafficking operation in the remote interior of the country that consisted of police, military, and labor inspectors; provided additional anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials; and established an internal mechanism for processing and referring victims to care. The government did not adopt a national anti-trafficking action plan, however, and it did not report any trafficking prosecutions or convictions.