Actions Against Governments Failing to Meet Minimum Standards

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as amended (TVPA) requires 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 by the countries on that list. The assessment briefly reports on government antitrafficking activities in the first half of the reporting period from April 1 to September 30. The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (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 2022 TIP Report, 37 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 2021 TIP Report or (2) were ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List in the 2022 TIP Report. [NOTE: There were no countries in the 2022 TIP Report that were upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2 from the previous year; as such, the 2022 assessment includes only countries upgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 1 (three countries) and countries ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List (34 countries). End Note.]

Tier Process

The Department ranked each of the countries or territories included in the 2022 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.

The Tiers

  • 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.

AFRICA

Burkina Faso

The Transition Government of Burkina Faso signed a protocol agreement with the United Nations on the treatment of children associated with armed groups, including potential trafficking victims, and trained social workers and child protection staff on case management and child protection procedures; however, the transition government did not increase efforts to prosecute or convict traffickers, including allegedly complicit officials.

Cameroon

The Government of Cameroon investigated potential human trafficking crimes involving allegedly complicit officials, trained government officials on the national referral system and standard operating procedures on victim identification and referral to care, investigated and prosecuted unlicensed recruiters complicit in trafficking crimes, and provided financial resources to the government’s inter-ministerial antitrafficking committee; however, the government did not amend the existing antitrafficking law to remove the requirement of force, fraud, or coercion for child sex trafficking crimes; take steps to implement a victim-witness program to increase protective services for victims participating in the criminal justice process; or develop a comprehensive data-collection system to capture government-wide antitrafficking efforts.

Chad

The Government of Chad investigated and prosecuted trafficking crimes; however, the government did not increase efforts to identify or refer trafficking victims to care; increase the provision of shelter and protective services for victims; or fund or adequately staff the antitrafficking committee to carry out its mandate.

Comoros

The Government of Comoros investigated trafficking crimes, identified trafficking victims, and established both a specialized trafficking investigation unit and a new national inter-ministerial committee; however, the government did not initiate any new prosecutions and has not yet moved forward with a pending trafficking case awaiting prosecution.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo passed draft antitrafficking legislation that is pending presidential signature and promulgation, increased trafficking trainings for government officials at both the national and provincial level, and improved data collection on trafficking crimes; however, the government did not investigate or prosecute allegedly complicit officials or institutionalize training for law enforcement officials and prosecutors on the national referral mechanism and standard operating procedures for victim identification and referral to care.

Djibouti

The Government of Djibouti, in collaboration with international partners, inaugurated a shelter for victims at risk of trafficking and finalized standard operating procedures and a national referral mechanism for victim identification and referral to care; however, the government did not increase efforts to investigate or prosecute suspected traffickers or identify any trafficking victims.

Equatorial Guinea

The Government of Equatorial Guinea amended its penal code to remove the requirement for coercion in cases of child sex trafficking, increased penalties for child trafficking, and conducted awareness raising activities; however, the government did not increase efforts to prosecute traffickers, including allegedly complicit officials, or identify trafficking victims.

Eswatini

The Government of Eswatini investigated and prosecuted human trafficking crimes, identified and referred trafficking victims to services, appointed magistrates to adjudicate trafficking cases, and took steps to finalize renovations and operationalize the first shelter for trafficking victims; however, the government did not train front-line officials on victim identification, appoint a new protection officer in the Secretariat for Trafficking in Persons to assist victims, or adequately fund the mandated activities of the secretariat and interagency task force.

Ethiopia

The Government of Ethiopia developed standard operating procedures for victim identification, investigated and prosecuted suspected traffickers, established a national referral mechanism for victim referral to care, and developed a 2021-2025 national action plan; however, the government did not investigate any cases of internal trafficking within Ethiopia or deploy trained labor attachés to increase availability of protections for Ethiopian trafficking victims abroad.

Gabon

The Government of Gabon identified and referred trafficking victims to care, increased its funding to shelters providing services to trafficking victims, and formed the new National Commission for the Prevention and Fight Against Human Trafficking; however, the government has not adopted its pending national action plan, increased efforts to identify adult trafficking victims, or made efforts to amend the penal code to define trafficking in line with the international definition.

Guinea

The Government of Guinea renovated three shelters for crime victims, including trafficking victims; established an antitrafficking support unit within the Ministry of Justice; and revised and disseminated standard operating procedures for labor inspectors; however, the government did not amend the penal code to remove sentencing provisions that allow for fines in lieu of imprisonment and increase penalties prescribed for forced begging, and it did not develop a comprehensive data collection system for antitrafficking efforts.

Madagascar

The Government of Madagascar began updating a new draft national action plan to combat human trafficking and conducted awareness raising activities; however, the government did not demonstrate increased efforts to investigate or prosecute trafficking crimes or identify trafficking victims, and it did not allocate adequate funding to enable the national antitrafficking office to conduct its programs.

Mali

The Transition Government of Mali took steps to finalize draft amendments to the antitrafficking law that would criminalize hereditary slavery and enact harsher penalties; facilitated trainings for government officials, civil society, and religious leaders on the national referral mechanism; and began developing a centralized database to assist in victim referrals to services and government and civil society coordination on trafficking cases; however, the transition government did not increase efforts to identify or refer victims of hereditary slavery to care, nor did it protect formerly enslaved persons or antislavery activists from acts of violence.

Mauritania

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania conducted awareness-raising activities on the antitrafficking and anti-slavery laws, provided antitrafficking trainings to government, including law enforcement, and civil society stakeholders, created a victim services fund and toll-free national hotline to report slavery cases, and established a national authority to coordinate the government’s antitrafficking response; however, the government did not increase efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers and slaveholders or report identifying any trafficking victims.

Senegal

The Government of Senegal provided antitrafficking training to law enforcement and judicial officials, prosecuted and convicted a trafficker using the 2005 antitrafficking law, and identified and referred trafficking victims to care; however, the government did not increase efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers exploiting children in forced begging, increase oversight of Quranic schools – daaras – to prevent forced begging, or regulate overseas labor recruitment to prevent exploitation of labor migrants.

South Africa

The Government of South Africa investigated and prosecuted human trafficking crimes, convened its National Intersectoral Committee on Trafficking in Persons in collaboration with an international organization, and allocated funds to temporarily sustain provincial human trafficking task teams; however, the government did not consistently implement standard operating procedures to identify and refer victims to care, ensure issuance of appropriate immigration documents to foreign national victims to access protective services, or formalize a confidential reporting mechanism for civil society to safely report corruption and complicity in trafficking crimes directly to the government for investigation.

Zambia

The Government of Zambia amended the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2008 to align the law with international standards, investigated and prosecuted human trafficking crimes, trained newly appointed local human trafficking focal points in the Zambia Police Service, and appointed personnel to the Secretariat for Trafficking in Persons; however, the government did not consistently implement the national referral mechanism, increase availability of interpretation services to improve access to protection services by foreign victims, or increase its capacity to provide shelter and services to more trafficking victims.

Zimbabwe

The Government of Zimbabwe began implementation of its pending National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking, approved draft amendments to its antitrafficking law to criminalize all forms of human trafficking pending submission to parliament, repatriated and provided services to trafficking victims, developed and adopted standard operating procedures for fair and ethical labor recruitment practices, and established provincial task force teams in six provinces; however, the government did not take steps to address the backlog of human trafficking cases pending prosecution in the courts, train frontline officials, or increase efforts to identify trafficking victims.

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

Hong Kong

The Government of Hong Kong increased interagency coordination and collaboration with NGOs, established a taskforce to assist Hong Kong trafficking victims exploited in Southeast Asia, and screened 5,300 individuals from vulnerable populations for indicators of trafficking; however, the government only identified one victim through its screening tool and did not take steps to enact legislation to criminalize all forms of trafficking.

Indonesia

The Government of Indonesia arrested and initiated investigations into 11 suspected traffickers and repatriated hundreds of Indonesian trafficking victims from exploitation in online scam operations in Cambodia; however, the government required trafficking victims who wished to provide a statement for a criminal investigation to stay in a government shelter and withheld their passports, which caused many victims to choose not to participate in investigations against traffickers and to travel abroad without legal documentation.

Palau

The Government of Palau finalized standard operating procedures for victim identification and referral and prepared them for dissemination; increased interagency coordination and community awareness outreach; and continued to conduct a review of sentencing guidelines for convicted traffickers; however, the government did not report initiating any new trafficking investigations or prosecutions or proactively identifying or assisting victims.

Papua New Guinea

The Government of Papua New Guinea prepared antitrafficking curriculum to be included in the first police recruit class in eight years; continued prosecutions of four alleged traffickers; and initiated efforts, in collaboration with an international organization, to align its antitrafficking laws with international standards; however, the government did not report initiating any new trafficking investigations or prosecutions, identifying or assisting any victims, or updating and implementing its national action plan; and the government continued to conflate migrant smuggling with trafficking and frequently deported potential victims who were foreign nationals.

Tonga

The Government of Tonga established an antitrafficking taskforce and offered immigration relief and other services to 85 potential trafficking victims; however, the government did not amend its antitrafficking laws to criminalize all forms of trafficking, develop proactive victim identification procedures, or conduct antitrafficking education campaigns.

EUROPE AND EURASIA

Bulgaria

The Government of Bulgaria adopted national action plans for 2022 and 2023; organized trainings for law enforcement officials; designated the National Statistical Institute to collect data and report on trafficking; and partnered with NGOs to conduct information sessions for migrants from Ukraine to raise awareness of trafficking; however, the government did not increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, or convict traffickers, and ensure judges sentence convicted traffickers with adequate prison terms.

Cyprus

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus convicted and sentenced a trafficker to 10 years imprisonment, which was the longest sentence ever issued for a trafficking crime, and started judicial reforms to reduce delays in court proceedings; however, the government lacked capacity and resources, including technical training, and front-line responders did not consistently identify victims while screening for trafficking indicators among asylum seekers due to a lack of knowledge.

Germany

The Government of Germany funded and appointed an independent national rapporteur for both sex and labor trafficking; slightly increased trafficking investigations; significantly increased the number of victims identified; and signed a national-level cooperation agreement with a government-funded NGO trafficking network; however, the government remained without national trafficking victim identification and referral guidelines; did not report efforts to address systemic gaps, including continuing lenient sentencing of convicted traffickers and the provision of sufficient training to judges who adjudicated trafficking cases; and did not report efforts to address inadequate funding to NGOs for victim care and assistance.

Iceland

The Government of Iceland submitted a budget bill to parliament requesting additional resources to combat human trafficking, including bolstering the investigation and prosecution of sex-related crimes, such as sex trafficking; however, the government remained without a formal identification and referral process for child trafficking victims.

Serbia

The Government of Serbia reopened the government-run shelter for trafficking victims and started to institutionalize measures in the judicial system to prevent re-traumatization; however, the government remains without a national antitrafficking coordinator, did not investigate credible allegations of forced labor, did not allocate sufficient resources to antitrafficking institutions, and did not substantially strengthen efforts to proactively identify and support victims, assemble coordinating bodies, or adopt requisite national action plans.

NEAR EAST

Algeria
The Government of Algeria trained relevant officials on victim identification and referral procedures and continued to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses; however, the government did not finalize standardized procedures for victim identification; amend the antitrafficking provision of the penal code to remove the requirement of a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion for child sex trafficking crimes; or finalize and implement a formal national referral mechanism to refer victims to appropriate care.

Kuwait

The Government of Kuwait increased access for domestic workers to file grievances electronically through the launch of an online platform, which also began to track recruitment agency inspections and complaints; and the antitrafficking police conducted internal trainings to better identify potential trafficking cases from calls to the trafficking hotline; however, the government did not increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, or convict traffickers; proactively screen vulnerable populations; or take new steps to reform its visa-based sponsorship employment system.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Bhutan

The Government of Bhutan initiated a draft bill to accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, or Palermo Protocol, pending final approval from parliament; took steps to commence prosecution of a trafficking case involving 44 Bhutanese women in the Middle East in 2018 and 2019;and funded the operation of three new border checkpoints to screen for trafficking indicators; however, the government did not amend its antitrafficking law to criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking in line with international standards, increase efforts to investigate suspected traffickers or identify trafficking victims, train labor inspectors to detect cases of forced labor, or eliminate all recruitment fees charged to workers by recruitment agencies.

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

Antigua and Barbuda:

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda increased prosecutions of alleged traffickers, identified more potential trafficking victims, worked with an international organization to repatriate and reintegrate a potential trafficking victim, and fully funded the antitrafficking national action plan, including increasing allocations for the interagency antitrafficking coordination unit, however, the government did not increase investigations of potential trafficking crimes nor convict any traffickers.

Aruba

The Government of Aruba initiated investigations of potential trafficking cases, launched a pilot program for a new trafficking awareness curriculum in public schools, and approved a multiyear contract for the antitrafficking coordinator’s only full-time employee; however, the government did not prosecute any traffickers, complete the multipurpose shelter for victims of crimes, nor report proactive efforts to identify trafficking victims.

El Salvador

The Government of El Salvador increased the number of prosecutors in its specialized antitrafficking prosecution unit and expanded efforts to prevent the exploitation of temporary Salvadoran workers abroad by providing predeparture trainings and contract review sessions; however, the government seconded some specialized prosecutors to manage non-trafficking, gang-related cases under the government’s State of Exception and did not provide adequate specialized services for trafficking victims or develop procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims within vulnerable groups.

Haiti

The Government of Haiti initiated prosecutions of two alleged traffickers, provided antitrafficking training to officials, and continued to organize awareness-raising campaigns; however, the government did not disburse funding to implement the antitrafficking national action plan and did not report prosecuting or convicting traffickers.

Saint Lucia

The Government of Saint Lucia investigated more potential trafficking cases, appointed a specialized prosecutor, restarted its national antitrafficking hotline, enabled select witnesses to testify online, and expanded training to antitrafficking stakeholders; however, the government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers or provide adequate funding for trafficking victims’ assistance services.

Trinidad and Tobago

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago initiated a prosecution against an alleged complicit official, improved cooperation between the specialized antitrafficking police unit and the rest of the police, and made efforts to protect vulnerable Cuban medical professionals; however, the government did not convict any traffickers, take concrete measures to address complicity and impunity among government officials, or provide adequate services for trafficking victims.

U.S. Department of State

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