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 (TIP) by the countries on that list.  The assessment briefly reports on government anti-trafficking activities in the first half of the reporting period, April 1 to September 30.  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 2023 TIP Report, 28 countries met the criteria for the Special Watch List.  As required by the TVPA, the Special Watch List consists of countries that either:  (1) advanced a tier from the 2022 TIP Report, or (2) were ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List in the 2023 TIP Report.  There were no countries in the 2023 TIP Report that were upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2 from the previous year; as such, the 2024 assessment includes only countries upgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 1 (2 countries) and countries ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List (26 countries).

Tier Process

The Department ranked each of the countries or territories included in the 2023 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 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 Tier 3.

The Tiers

  • Tier 1 are countries and territories whose governments fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards.
  • Tier 2 are 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 are 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:
    • 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
    • There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of TIP from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecutions and convictions of trafficking crimes, increased assistance to victims, and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials.
  • Tier 3 are 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:  (1) the overall extent of human trafficking in the country; (2) 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 (3) 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

Botswana:  The Government of Botswana took steps to finalize draft amendments to its anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment and adopted a new national action plan to combat human trafficking; however, the government did not demonstrate increased efforts to investigate or prosecute trafficking crimes or identify trafficking victims.

Congo, Republic of the:  The Government of the Republic of the Congo trained law enforcement and justice officials on victim identification and protection; however, the government did not report investigating or prosecuting human trafficking crimes or identifying trafficking victims.

Eswatini:  The Government of Eswatini investigated more potential trafficking crimes, opened its shelter for victims of trafficking and gender-based violence, finalized and distributed shelter guidelines, and trained front-line officials on victim identification and data collection; however, the government did not appoint a new protection officer to the Secretariat for TIP to guide victim assistance measures, demonstrate increased efforts to prosecute trafficking crimes, nor amend legislation to regulate labor recruitment companies to prevent exploitation of migrant workers.

Gabon:  The Government of Gabon issued a formal decree to establish a new anti-trafficking inter-ministerial committee; however, the government did not increase efforts to investigate or prosecute human trafficking crimes, proactively identify trafficking victims, or amend its penal code to align with international standards.

Madagascar:  The Government of Madagascar investigated potential human trafficking crimes, provided anti-trafficking training to law enforcement, and conducted awareness raising activities; however, the government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers, adequately provide, or fund victim services, or utilize the national committee’s budget allocation to fund anti-trafficking activities.

Mauritius:  The Government of Mauritius investigated human trafficking crimes, launched a code of conduct to improve recruitment and employment of migrant workers, and convened its Inter-Ministerial Committee on Trafficking in Persons; however, the government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers, proactively identify trafficking victims, or adequately provide or fund victim services.

Mozambique:  The Government of Mozambique adopted a national action plan to combat human trafficking and increased coordination among national, provincial, and district stakeholders to improve reporting on anti-trafficking efforts; however, the government did not finalize the national referral mechanism and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for referral and care of trafficking victims or demonstrate increased efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes or proactively identify victims.

Seychelles:  The Government of Seychelles investigated human trafficking crimes, increased the availability of interpretation services for foreign victims and law enforcement officials, provided funding for victim protection services, and increased efforts to monitor labor recruitment companies; however, the government did not increase efforts to prosecute human trafficking crimes, allocate funding for the TIP Fund, or conduct inspections in the Seychelles International Trade Zone despite continued reports of trafficking indicators.

South Africa:  The Government of South Africa investigated and prosecuted alleged human trafficking crimes, convicted traffickers and sentenced them to significant penalties, accredited additional shelters for trafficking victims, and provided anti-trafficking training to diplomats; however, the government did not promulgate and implement provisions in the anti-trafficking law to ensure the issuance of appropriate immigration status and identification documents for trafficking victims, consistently screen vulnerable populations for trafficking indicators, or report holding fraudulent labor recruiters criminally accountable.

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

Brunei:  The Government of Brunei increased efforts to identify trafficking victims and continued to issue special work authorization passes to potential victims; however, the government did not effectively prohibit passport retention of migrant workers, which remained common, and did not initiate any prosecutions of suspected traffickers.

Malaysia:  The Government of Malaysia identified more victims, investigated, and prosecuted more traffickers, and updated and trained officials on the National Guidelines on Human Trafficking Indicators; however, the government did not expand victims’ access to communications and unchaperoned freedom of movement from trafficking shelters and did not expand labor protections for domestic workers.

Marshall Islands:  The Government of Marshall Islands initiated a prosecution; continued steps to establish an anti-trafficking hotline, safe houses, and an online legal case management system; and trained law enforcement officials; however, the government did not utilize SOPs to identify trafficking victims or convict any traffickers.

Solomon Islands:  The Government of Solomon Islands improved inter-agency coordination to increase support service options for trafficking victims and conducted awareness raising activities in partnership with an international organization; however, the government did not identify or assist any trafficking victims, initiate any trafficking investigations or prosecutions, or conduct systematic monitoring and inspection activities at logging sites or in the fishing and mining sectors.

Vanuatu:  The Government of Vanuatu prepared a draft national action plan to counter human trafficking; however, the government did not dedicate sufficient resources to combat trafficking, initiate any trafficking investigations or prosecutions, or proactively identify or assist any victims.

Vietnam:  The Government of Vietnam investigated more suspected traffickers and took steps to improve its anti-trafficking legislation by publicly releasing for comment a draft of the revised Law on Human Trafficking Prevention and Combat; however, the government did not fully criminalize child sex trafficking or take effective steps to proactively identify foreign national trafficking victims.

EUROPE AND EURASIA

Bulgaria:  The Government of Bulgaria increased the number of staff at its national anti-trafficking commission; formed an interagency unit to support timely completion of trafficking cases; and conducted trafficking-related training for police officers, magistrates, and other stakeholders; however, the government did not increase funding for anti-trafficking programs through its national commission and did not establish a unified national system for collating trafficking data.

Denmark:  The Government of Denmark increased funding for the court system to build capacity and reduce case processing times, which could positively impact the number of trafficking prosecutions and convictions; however, the government’s practice of swiftly repatriating foreign victims continued to inhibit successful prosecutions and left victims vulnerable to re-trafficking and reluctant to work with police.

Montenegro:  The Government of Montenegro increased its trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions; identified more trafficking victims; and initiated steps to open a government-run shelter for child trafficking victims; however, the government did not establish a plan to provide victim support to adult trafficking victims; increase access to justice for trafficking victims, including accessible compensation; or include Romani groups in anti-trafficking mechanisms.

Serbia:  The Government of Serbia increased the number of specialized prosecutors focusing on trafficking, appointed a national anti-trafficking coordinator, and established a working group to draft a new national action plan; however, the government did not provide adequate resources to government-run or NGO-run victim support services, strengthen efforts to proactively identify and support victims, or convene anti-trafficking coordinating bodies.

NEAR EAST

Egypt:  The Government of Egypt organized working groups to review the national referral mechanism to streamline victim identification and referral to services; increased public awareness efforts to non-Egyptian communities including Sudanese, South Sudanese, and Yemeni community leaders; and collaborated with international organizations and foreign donors to renovate a specialized trafficking shelter scheduled to open in 2024; however, the government did not report the number of identified victims, including among vulnerable populations; nor did it report the number of trafficking prosecutions and convictions thus far during the reporting period; the second government shelter was not yet operational; and the government did not yet approve amendments to the labor law to protect domestic workers.

Iraq:  The Government of Iraq employed and trained 77 new anti-trafficking police officers, including nine female officers; established plans for four new trafficking shelters specifically for male victims; convened the trafficking committee six times, and prepared the 2023-2026 National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking in June 2023; however, the government did not develop and institute guidelines for proactive victim identification, ensure trafficking victims were not punished solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, or revise policy to allow all relevant authorities to identify potential trafficking victims and refer them to care.

Kuwait:  The Government of Kuwait investigated more alleged trafficking cases, assisted more vulnerable female workers at the government shelter, removed access barriers to the shelter for domestic workers with tenuous criminal charges, such as “absconding,” and increased awareness campaigns across multiple media and social platforms; however, it did not make efforts to prosecute or convict traffickers; proactively screen vulnerable populations; or fully implement the national referral mechanism.

Lebanon:  The Government of Lebanon’s Cabinet approved and forwarded for approval to Parliament a draft amendment to the anti-trafficking law that addressed loopholes in the original 2011 statute, such as removing the burden of proof from victims to prove their own exploitation; however, the government did not finalize standardized procedures for officials to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; increase efforts to ensure victims are not inappropriately arrested, detained, or deported solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; enact the labor law amendment extending legal protections to all foreign workers, including domestic workers and artiste visa holders; or approve the draft standardized contract for migrant workers as initially submitted to the State Shura Council in 2020.

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

Bolivia:  The Government of Bolivia identified a greater number of trafficking victims and partnered with the Government of Argentina to develop a victim referral protocol that established 35 joint efforts to address human trafficking and related crimes; however, the government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting traffickers thus far during the reporting period and did not increase access to victim protection services.

Dominican Republic:  The Government of the Dominican Republic passed a national action plan, increased labor trafficking investigations, and slightly improved assistance for Creole-speaking and child victims of trafficking; however, the government did not amend its anti-trafficking law to remove the requirement for force, fraud, or coercion to constitute a child sex trafficking crime and increased the overall vulnerability of migrants to trafficking, both by withholding identify documents to eligible Dominicans of Haitian descent and restricting legal avenues for Haitian permanent residents and migrants seeking to enter the Dominican Republic.

El Salvador:  The Government of El Salvador adopted a multi-year National Action Plan; expanded prosecutorial jurisdiction over trafficking crimes to 19 Attorney General offices throughout the country under the Directorate for Women, Children, Adolescents, and other Vulnerable Groups; and conducted activities to prevent trafficking in tourist centers and among workers participating in seasonal work visa programs in the United States; however, the government did not increase funding for or availability of specialized services for identified victims, provide reintegration support services for victims or extend victim-witness protection services beyond the duration of a trial, or adopt an anti-trafficking definition consistent with international law.

Haiti:  The Government of Haiti increased funding available to the National Anti-Trafficking Committee, identified and educated 31 new foster families on child protection standards, conducted monthly visits to 189 existing foster families, launched a national identification program, improved inter-agency coordination to provide legal assistance to victims, and increased training for police officers on trafficking; however, the government did not convict any traffickers, offer adequate services to victims, or improve evidence gathering strategies for trafficking cases.

Trinidad and Tobago:  The Government of Trinidad and Tobago convicted a trafficker for the first time and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment, increased the number of trafficking prosecutions going to trial, launched new SOPs for the Counter-Trafficking Unit, and renovated government shelters for victims; however, the government did not make sufficient efforts to address allegations of pervasive official complicity in trafficking crimes, continued to deport potential victims without screening for trafficking indicators, and did not provide adequate services for some victims.

U.S. Department of State

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