The U.S. State Department recently released its 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report, also known as the TIP report, which examines progress in stopping modern slavery, including sex trafficking and other types of forced labor. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking in the world. Prosecutions of traffickers and rescues of victims are much lower.
The TIP report includes summaries of the trafficking and forced labor issues faced by countries around the world and explains what their governments are doing to combat the problems. The report also classifies nations into one of four tiers, as mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) first passed in 2000. A tier 1 rating “indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, has made efforts to address the problem, and meets the TVPA’s minimum standards.” Tier 2 is for countries that do not meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but whose governments have displayed an effort to make the requisite changes. A tier 2 watch list level was added to include countries that meet the tier 2 description but whose number of trafficking victims is significantly increasing and who have not been able to show evidence that they are increasing efforts to combat trafficking. Tier 3 is for countries that do not meet the TVPA’s minimum standards and are not making efforts to do so. Tier 3 countries may have sanctions placed on them by the United States.
The report serves several purposes. “It gives a sense of what the problem is in particular countries and whether governments are taking basic steps to protect the most vulnerable women, children, migrants, and minorities on their soil,” says Ambassador Mark Lagon, professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and former Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking at the State Department.
It also serves as an impetus for getting countries to make improvements. And the proof is in the rankings. For example, this year, Armenia’s increased prosecutions of traffickers and other efforts led it to be upgraded to tier 1.