State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report: 2013
Since 2011, the U.S. Department of State has released an annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), detailing the U.S. government’s evaluation of the human trafficking situation around the world. The report is organized by ranking 188 governments in their effectiveness in preventing human trafficking and addressing the issues associated with modern day slavery. The stated purpose of publishing these reports is to hold traffickers accountable for their actions and to prevent more people from falling victim.
The TIP reports organize countries into three different tiers, determined by the country’s governmental cooperation in meeting the standards set by the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Tier One countries have the highest levels of progress in addressing and preventing human trafficking. On average, 30 countries fall in the Tier One range. Tier 2 maintains two different levels: Tier 2 and the Tier 2 Watch list, typically with approximately 130 countries in this category.
Finally, about 20 countries make up the Tier 3 level. A country is deemed Tier 3 for failed governmental attention to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and blatant trafficking. Countries on the Tier 3 list are susceptible to sanctions from the U.S. government.
Proponents of the TIP report praise the effectiveness of monitoring progress and the accountability systems. The TIP reports have strengthened through their systematic measurements of governmental actions.
Such believers in the TIP reports claim they prevent thousands of people from being recruited into the trafficking network and purport that countries around the world are spurred to action by these annual rankings. Supporters commend the State Department for taking action on this global cause and providing leadership in getting governments to examine the trafficking situations within their countries and spurring change across the world.
Furthermore, many nonprofit organizations and relief agencies cite the data in the TIP reports and use this information to develop their action plans.
While responses to the TIP reports have largely been positive, critics point out many perceived flaws in the system. Some believe the reports merely cause diplomatic problems and put tensions on relationships between various countries.
One problem critics have pointed out is how the rankings are determined: they are based not on the extent of trafficking in a country, but only on governmental action towards trafficking. Others simply disagree with the premise of the United States ranking other countries, since the U.S. has problems with trafficking as well.
The 2013 TIP Report, which was released in June, drew much attention to its downgrading of China and Russia, since these big trading countries are now liable to sanctions from the U.S. government.
– Allison Meade
Sources: Not For Sale Campaign, U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Person Report 2013