The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as amended (TVPA) requires that the Secretary of State submit a list of countries that require special scrutiny to Congress and to provide an Interim Assessment of the progress made in combating trafficking in persons (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 country or territory and an analysis of government efforts to address trafficking.)
In the 2021 TIP Report, 45 countries met the criteria for 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 2020 TIP Report or (2) were ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List in the 2021 TIP Report. [NOTE: There were no countries in the 2021 TIP Report that were upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2, or from Tier 2 to Tier 1, from the previous year; as such, the 2021 assessment includes only countries ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List. End Note.]
The Secretary of State ranked each of the countries or territories included in the 2021 TIP Report on one of four tiers, as mandated by the TVPA. Tier placement reflects an evaluation of a government’s actions to combat trafficking assessed against specific criteria outlined in the TVPA. Governments that fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking are ranked on Tier 1. For other countries, the Secretary considers whether their governments made significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. Countries whose governments are making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards, but do not meet them all, are ranked on Tier 2.
The Watch List criteria are considered and, if applicable, Tier 2 countries are ranked 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 ranked on Tier 3.
Tier 1: Countries and territories whose governments fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards.
Tier 2: Countries and territories whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’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 TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, and:
a) The estimated number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and the country is not taking proportional concrete actions; or
b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous 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 determinations between Tiers 2 and 3, the Secretary 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 measures are reasonable to bring the government into compliance with the minimum standards in light of the government’s resources and capabilities. In addition to these considerations as to whether the government of a country is not making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the Secretary also considers, as proof of failure to make significant efforts, a government policy or pattern of: trafficking; trafficking in government-funded programs; forced labor (in government-affiliated medical services, agriculture, forestry, mining, construction, or other sectors); sexual slavery in government camps, compounds, or outposts; or employing or recruiting child soldiers.
The Government of Burkina Faso provided care and reintegration support to potential child trafficking victims and partnered with Quranic teachers to combat child forced begging. However, the government did not increase efforts to prosecute or convict traffickers, including allegedly complicit officials, nor did it adopt a protocol to refer children associated with non-state armed groups, including potential trafficking victims, to international organizations for care.
The Government of Burundi increased efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers; expanded protective services for victims through partnerships with NGOs; and took steps to hold fraudulent labor recruiters criminally accountable. However, the government did not sufficiently increase efforts to investigate all credible allegations of official complicity or hold accountable those implicated; develop and implement national standardized procedures to identify and refer victims to services; nor take steps to develop a national level data collection system on victim identification, protection, and referral efforts.
The Government of Cameroon dedicated resources to its anti-trafficking inter-ministerial committee and identified and aided victims. However, the government did not provide training for law enforcement, judicial authorities, or civil society on the national referral system and standard operating procedures; train judicial authorities on the application of the anti-trafficking section of the penal code; nor amend its anti-trafficking law to remove the requirement of force, fraud, or coercion for child sex trafficking offenses.
The Government of Chad, in collaboration with an international organization, launched a multisectoral technical committee to operationalize its national commission on human trafficking, developed standard operating procedures for victim services, and provided trainings for the judiciary and law enforcement officials. However, the government did not initiate any investigations or prosecutions of traffickers, establish a specialized anti-trafficking unit, nor allocate funding to its national anti-trafficking commission.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo allocated additional financial resources to its anti-trafficking inter-ministerial committee; investigated and prosecuted trafficking cases; expanded public awareness efforts; and increased efforts to prevent child soldiering, including by improved screening of new recruits to avoid the recruitment of minors. However, the government did not fully enact its standard operating procedures for victim protection nor adopt pending anti-trafficking legislation to criminalize all forms of trafficking and prescribe penalties that are sufficiently stringent.
The Government of Djibouti trained key agencies on trafficking indicators, the distinction between migrant smuggling and human trafficking, and standardized procedures for victim identification. However, the government did not prosecute potential traffickers under the 2016 anti-trafficking law, report progress on establishing a shelter to improve protection services available for trafficking victims, nor finalize a national action plan.
The Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea prepared an initial draft national action plan on trafficking in persons and trained first responders, police officers, border agents, and members of the judicial system on victim identification and investigation. However, the government did not sufficiently identify trafficking victims, including among vulnerable populations, nor refer them to services or increase efforts to investigate and prosecute traffickers.
The Government of Ethiopia trained authorities on the distinction between human trafficking and migrant smuggling, investigated and prosecuted traffickers, and strengthened oversight of labor recruitment agencies. However, the government did not amend Proclamation 1178/2020 to bring the definition of human trafficking in line with international law, report efforts to identify potential trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, nor improve screening procedures in the distribution of national identity cards and passports to prevent fraudulent issuance to children and other potential trafficking victims.
The Government of The Gambia launched its national referral mechanism establishing clear guidelines for referring victims to care; convicted three defendants under its anti-trafficking law; and adopted a new national action plan to combat trafficking. However, the government did not make significant progress to identify victims nor expand access to victim services.
The Government of Guinea allocated dedicated funding to the national anti-trafficking committee for the first time, closed several hundred clandestine medical clinics suspected of engaging in human trafficking, and engaged in public awareness raising activities. However, the government did not significantly increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including among corrupt Quranic teachers and allegedly complicit officials, nor did it sufficiently identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and refer them to services.
The Government of Lesotho increased coordination among law enforcement officials and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases; issued a directive to fund its anti-trafficking task force and victim services, including shelter; finalized and implemented guidelines for victim identification and referral; and increased its trafficking training and awareness-raising efforts for law enforcement and the general public. However, the government did not prosecute and convict traffickers, including allegedly complicit officials; take steps to increase oversight of labor recruitment agencies; nor amend jurisdictional issues that prevent magistrate courts from issuing the maximum penalty for trafficking crimes.
The Government of Liberia amended its 2005 Anti-Human Trafficking Law to strengthen criminal penalties for human trafficking and prohibit and punish severe forms of human trafficking; initiated investigations and prosecutions of alleged traffickers; and approved funding to establish two new shelters for victims. However, the government did not increase labor inspections in the informal sector to improve identification of trafficking victims, nor did it increase the number of trafficking convictions.
The transitional Malian government increased efforts to prevent child soldiering by engaging armed groups to sign agreements with the UN to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers and continued to fund the national anti-trafficking committee. However, the transition government did not increase efforts to investigate trafficking cases, improve victim identification, nor amend the 2012 anti-trafficking law to ensure it could be used to investigate and prosecute cases involving hereditary slavery.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, in collaboration with international organizations, trained prosecutors, judges, civil society, and security forces on identifying and prosecuting trafficking cases; and the anti-slavery courts continued to process cases. However, the government did not increase efforts to identify victims and refer them to services, including by developing standard victim identification procedures, nor did it partner with civil society to provide victim services.
The Government of Senegal provided anti-trafficking training to law enforcement and judicial officials and prosecuted and convicted traffickers under the 2005 anti-trafficking law. However, the government did not increase efforts to prosecute and convict cases of child forced begging, strengthen the authority of the national anti-trafficking task force to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts, nor proactively inspect the informal sector for forced labor cases.
The Government of South Africa investigated, prosecuted, and convicted traffickers; increased the number of accredited shelters for trafficking victims; and conducted trainings for social workers, law
enforcement, and other government officials on its anti-trafficking law. However, the government did not implement standard operating procedures to systematically identify and refer victims to care, nor did it ensure foreign national victims are issued appropriate immigration documents to receive protective services.
The Government of Tanzania identified and referred victims to care; assisted in the repatriation of Tanzanian and foreign national victims; and provided training, in collaboration with an NGO, for law enforcement officials, social welfare officers, magistrates, and civil society organizations.
However, the government did not amend its law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment; finalize standard operating procedures for victim identification and referral; adequately resource the national anti-trafficking committee; nor did it increase efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers.
The Government of Uganda prosecuted and convicted traffickers; allocated funds to assist with prosecution-led trafficking investigations; trained stakeholders in the police and judiciary on the use of the national action plan and national referral guidelines; and updated anti-trafficking regulations for labor recruitment firms. However, the government did not expand protective services for victims or allocate resources to NGOs that provide services, report on law enforcement action related to child trafficking in the Karamoja region, nor become a party to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
The Government of Zambia adopted a national action plan to combat trafficking and took significant steps to help resolve an outstanding judgment related to human trafficking in Maryland against a former
Zambian World Bank employee and her husband, a Zambian mission member posted in the United States. However, the government did not fully implement the national referral mechanism, amend the anti-trafficking law to align with international law through prohibiting all forms of child sex trafficking, nor take measures to increase identification of trafficking victims by screening vulnerable populations.
The Government of Zimbabwe collaborated with international organizations to train law enforcement, prosecutors, and judiciary officials; integrated trafficking modules into its training for police; and completed construction of four safe houses for trafficking victims in four provinces. However, the government did not allocate resources to implement the national action plan, take steps to address the backlog of human trafficking cases for prosecution, nor amend its anti-trafficking law to criminalize all forms of human trafficking.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
The Government of Brunei established an interagency prosecutions board, circulated standard operating procedures on trafficking indicators, and allocated funding for protection efforts. However, the government did not prosecute traffickers nor identify any victims.
The Government of Cambodia investigated more criminal cases; arrested and charged labor brokers and at least two officials—one very high-ranking—allegedly complicit in trafficking; and removed trafficking victims from exploitation through police raids. However, the government did not increase efforts to respond to nor detect forced labor indicators at vulnerable commercial sites or sectors despite widespread trafficking allegations.
The Government of Hong Kong screened more than 4,000 potential victims for indicators of trafficking, provided anti-trafficking training to more than 1,000 officials, and solicited feedback from NGOs to improve the screening process. However, the government only identified one victim of trafficking, did not report convicting any traffickers, and did not take steps to enact legislation to criminalize all forms of trafficking.
The Government of Macau investigated one suspected trafficking case. However, the government did not develop an updated national action plan, convict any traffickers, nor report providing assistance to any victims.
The Government of the Marshall Islands began implementing its national action plan via the National Task Force on Human Trafficking, conducted law enforcement trainings, and developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to proactively identify trafficking victims. However, the government did not prioritize implementing its SOPs to identify trafficking victims nor vigorously prosecute traffickers.
The Government of Palau established a support system for trafficking victims, including temporary housing and advocacy services. However, the government did not develop standard operating procedures nor amend anti-trafficking laws to remove sentencing provisions that currently allow for fines in lieu of imprisonment.
Papua New Guinea
The Government of Papua New Guinea continued to suspend issuance of visas on arrival, which affected transnational traffickers’ ability to bring new victims into the country. However, the government did not update or implement its anti-trafficking standard operating procedures or national action plan, nor enhance coordination between the Ministry of Justice and Immigration and Citizenship to investigate and prosecute suspected traffickers.
The Government of Thailand established a center to provide temporary shelter and other services to potential victims prior to their formal identification; approved legislation to require employers to provide contracts to migrant workers in a language they can understand; and made the Ministry of Labor’s Anti-Labor Trafficking task force a permanent division. However, the government did not complete standard operating procedures for officials to implement the 2019 forced labor amendment, extend the period in which officials were required to formally identify victims, nor make some services accessible to victims who were unwilling or not yet prepared to assist in investigations against their traffickers.
The Government of Timor-Leste established a Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons to serve as the national coordinating body for the government’s efforts. However, the government did not finalize the draft national action plan for submission to the Council of Ministers nor collect national data on human trafficking cases to obtain accurate information and improve case management.
The Government of Tonga implemented a model trafficking indicator database and continued to provide funding to an NGO to assist victims. However, the government did not investigate any potential cases of trafficking, amend existing trafficking laws to criminalize all forms of trafficking, nor develop victim identification procedures.
The Government of Vietnam continued key interagency steps necessary for revising anti-trafficking legislation; enacted three Ministry-level
counter-trafficking action plans; and continued legislative efforts to enhance oversight of migrant labor contracts for Vietnamese nationals employed overseas. However, the government did not fully criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking, implement proactive screening measures, nor amend gaps in the penal code.
EUROPE AND EURASIA
The Government of Azerbaijan issued adequate sentences to all traffickers convicted since April 2021, allocated grants to civil society organizations for victim assistance, and increased the number of trainings for first responders on victim identification. However, the government did not consistently follow nor further tailer standard operating procedures for victim identification, such as creating indicator cards for first responders, nor did it identify any victims of internal trafficking.
The Government of Belarus announced in an official statement that it trained officials on the national identification and referral mechanism, in partnership with an international organization, and citizens’ participation in the April 2021 national community service day was voluntary. However, the government did not increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases under its trafficking statute, devote sufficient resources to protection efforts, proactively screen vulnerable groups for trafficking indicators, nor amend or repeal the criminal code to ensure compulsory labor cannot be used as punishment for the peaceful expression of political views.
The Government of Ireland convicted two traffickers — the government’s first trafficking convictions since at least 2013 — and sentenced them to significant imprisonment; expunged 607 prior convictions for individuals in commercial sex, some of whom were likely sex trafficking victims; and, in coordination with an international organization, launched a national anti-trafficking public awareness campaign. However, the government did not make progress to address systemic deficiencies in victim identification, referral, and assistance, including for vulnerable populations and sea fishers.
The Government of Romania operationalized a new specialized anti-trafficking prosecution unit and increased indictments against traffickers. However, the government did not increase personnel to address staffing gaps for the police and prosecutors, and therefore the completion of trafficking investigations continued to be delayed.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
The Royal Government of Bhutan finalized its national prevention strategy and action plan; re-investigated a 2018 trafficking case, resulting in the sentencing of three traffickers in June 2021; and promulgated new regulations to reduce vulnerabilities of drayang (night club) employees. However, the government did not amend its anti-trafficking law to criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking in line with international standards, investigate or prosecute new trafficking cases, nor complete the process to become a party to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
The Government of Pakistan investigated two bonded labor cases referred by NGOs in Punjab province, implemented judicial orders to free 1,451 bonded laborers in Sindh province between January and September, and conducted training on its anti-trafficking standard operating procedures with law enforcement, social welfare and labor departments, and child protection bureaus. However, the government did not report any new convictions, including cases allegedly involving complicit officials, nor amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses.
The Government of Sri Lanka convened its interagency anti-trafficking task force several times throughout the year, initiated 10 investigations, created a national standard operating procedure and conducted trainings across the government on victim identification and cancelled the licenses of two recruitment agencies. However, the government did not report any new convictions, provide adequate protection services to victims, including shelter, take steps to eliminate recruitment fees charged to workers, nor utilize Section 360C on trafficking to pursue robust prosecutions.
The Government of Aruba initiated trafficking investigations, began meeting regularly with local NGOs and international organizations on victim identification, established an intelligence unit on human trafficking, and developed a bilingual standard reporting form to facilitate information gathering. However, the government did not report initiating new human trafficking prosecutions or convictions, nor training law enforcement officials, including judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement on victim-centered approaches.
The Government of Barbados initiated a trafficking investigation; created an interagency national taskforce that met several times throughout the year; began using a checklist to regularly screen individuals in commercial sex for trafficking indicators; and developed an anti-trafficking public awareness campaign. However, the government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers, amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses, nor did it institutionalize victim identification and referral training for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges.
The Government of Belize convicted two traffickers; introduced – in cooperation with an international organization and a foreign government – a comprehensive victim case management system; investigated two officials for complicity in human trafficking; and resumed trafficking and child sexual exploitation jury trials before any other cases after a year of court closures due to the pandemic. However, the government did not investigate anecdotal reports of complicity among police officers and other authorities nor establish a national labor recruitment registry and suspended an ongoing prosecution from 2019.
The Government of Curacao established an interagency anti-trafficking group to improve coordination and protect victims. However, the government did not prosecute traffickers nor take steps to address labor trafficking.
The Government of Haiti adopted national standard operating procedures for victim identification and a cooperative action plan and registered more than 750,000 citizens and issued more than 840,000 national biometric ID cards. However, the government did not take measures to investigate complicity or impunity for officials and other high-profile individuals, dedicate any funding to the Anti-Trafficking Committee, nor convict any traffickers.
The Government of Sint Maarten provided training for immigration officers to proactively screen passengers for trafficking indicators at ports of entry and refer incidents to the anti-human trafficking team; and it disseminated a screening checklist to immigration officers. However, the government did not report new trafficking prosecutions or convictions, nor increase the availability of protection services for victims, including shelters.
Trinidad and Tobago
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago increased funding for investigations, training, NGO outreach, and a public outreach campaign and enacted a new amendment to a mutual legal assistance treaty to enable cooperation in trafficking cases with non-Commonwealth countries, including countries of origin of trafficking victims such as Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. However, the government did not investigate serious reports of complicity or address impunity by law enforcement and immigration officials, prosecute or convict any traffickers, nor provide legal support or services for potential trafficking victims among refugees and immigrants.