US Condemns Human Trafficking in Russia and China

US Condemns Human Trafficking in Russia and China
In 2000, The United States State Department passed a law requiring them to rank almost every country in the world on human trafficking and forced labor. This report is known as the Trafficking in Persons Report or TIP reports for short. The report categorizes each country via four rankings.

The rankings include Tier 1, which represents countries that have acknowledged the presence of human trafficking and are making satisfactory efforts to combat it. Tier 2 countries do not fully comply with international standards but are making efforts to bring themselves into compliance. Tier 2 Watch List countries also do not fully comply but are working to do so, but they have a significant or increasing number of trafficking victims, and they have failed to produce evidence of increasing efforts from the previous year. Finally, Tier 3 countries are not complying with international standards and are not making any significant effort to do so.

Last week, the 2013 report was released. Russia, China and Uzbekistan were moved from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 3. China was downgraded for its continued system of “re-education through labor” which pushes people into forced labor in brick kilns, and coal mines among other forms of labor. Additionally, women and girls in China are routinely recruited and sold into sexual slavery in cities and urban centers. The women and girls are generally transported from poor rural villages to the cities and are often poor, uneducated, and poverty-stricken girls.

State Department officials debated the lowering of Russia and China’s rankings, worrying the failing grades would hinder cooperation with the international powerhouses. Luckily, however, human rights advocates can be pleased that legality and definitions overruled the debate and both Russia and China were placed in the correct tiers.

The report details Russia’s use of labor trafficking in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and domestic service industries. Additionally, the report provides insight into the widespread sex trafficking industry of Russian women and children, both domestically as well as abroad. Unfortunately, despite an increase in victims, prosecution rates have remained dismally low. President Vladimir Putin is also hindering improvement through his repression of civil society and non-profit organizations aimed at helping women and girls.

Tier 3 rankings serve a vitally important purpose for our international relations with such countries. Tier 3 countries are subject to withholdings of non-humanitarian, non-trade related foreign assistance. It is not guaranteed, however, the president has the choice to impose such sanctions. Both Russia and China represent countries with governments not too weak to make human trafficking a priority, but too indifferent to do so. This signals a disturbing indifference to human rights and reflects poorly on both countries in the 21st century.

– Caitlin Zusy
Source: Washington Post, US State Department
Photo: Infosur Hoy