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Homeland Security

Washington File

11 June 2003

More Nations Acting to Counter Human Trafficking, New Report Finds

(Says over 100 governments are making concrete efforts) (810)
By Charlene Porter
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- More than 100 governments around the world are making
concrete efforts to end trafficking in persons, according to a
wide-ranging international survey released by the U.S. Department of
State June 11.
At a Washington briefing, Secretary of State Colin Powell said "We
hope that this report will help to raise awareness among governments
and publics and serve as a catalyst for coordinated international
action."
Compilation of the trafficking in persons (TIP) report is required by
the Trafficking Victims Protection Act passed by Congress in 2000. It
outlines a three-tier system for classifying nations depending on how
aggressively they are acting to control trafficking within their
jurisdictions. A nation's tier placement is determined by the actions
it is taking to prevent trafficking in persons, to prosecute those
associated with this form of organized criminal activity, and to
protect victims.
Those nations found to be unresponsive to international calls for
specific actions to control human trafficking are placed in Tier 3.
Now reaching its third year of implementation, the law calls for the
imposition of certain sanctions against nations found to be in that
category.
"Countries can avoid sanctions by working with us and taking prompt
action to improve their policies and practices," Powell said.
The nations that could be subject to sanctions according to the 2003
TIP report are Belize, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burma, Cuba, Dominican
Republic, Georgia, Greece, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Liberia, North Korea,
Sudan, Suriname, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.
The TIP report emphasizes that several governments have increased
their efforts to combat trafficking in the year since the last such
survey, Powell said. "Mauritius has developed a multiagency initiative
to combat the sexual exploitation of children. Brazil is fighting sex
tourism by working with hotels to stop child prostitution, he noted.
The United Arab Emirates provides an "admirable example," according to
the report, having made "great strides to strengthen its efforts
throughout the year." The UAE's progress has moved it into Tier 1 in
this year's report, among those nations fully compliant with standards
for reducing trafficking, as contrasted with the UAE's Tier 3
placement last year.
Benin, Ghana and Morocco also improved their rankings this year,
moving from Tier 2 -- those countries making "significant efforts"
toward compliance -- to Tier 1.
Regarding the possibility of sanctions on non-compliant nations, the
director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons,
John Miller, said the law requires the president to make a decision on
whether to impose or waive sanctions by October 1.
"It is my hope, and I think the hope of everybody in this department,
that the president, when he reaches that decision, will find that such
countries have made significant efforts to improve their performance
in the fight against trafficking so that that consequence will not
happen," Miller said. "That's what this four-month period is for."
The report says that it is meant to be a diplomatic tool, "a guide to
help focus resources on prosecution, protection and prevention
programs and policies." Miller said the three-year history of the 2000
law requiring the report does indicate that nations have been
responding to that intent.
"One of the fascinating developments has been how efforts have
increased in the last several months," Miller said. "As this report
neared its publication date, we have seen laws passed from the
Philippines to Haiti; we've seen more arrests, from Serbia to
Cambodia; we've seen special prosecution units set up."
Another significant finding of the report is that estimates on the
number of victims have been scaled back considerably from previous
years. The 2003 TIP report cites U.S. government estimates that
approximately 800,000 to 900,000 people may be trafficked around the
world each year. Estimates in previous years set the possible number
of victims anywhere from 700,000 to 4 million, though experts readily
acknowledge that estimates are unreliable in an area of such covert,
underground activity.
The number of victims estimated to be trafficked into the United
States annually is between 18,000 and 20,000, down from an estimate of
50,000 in previous years.
Both Powell and Miller emphasized that the United States and all Tier
1 nations can still do a better job to stop trafficking. Powell noted
that the United States has spent $100 million on international
counter-trafficking programs over the last two years.
Miller said the United States is continuing its efforts to support
other nations in stopping this form of organized criminal activity.
"We're going to work with all countries, whether they're in the
report, not in the report, on Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3. The goal has to
be to abolish modern-day slavery."
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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