192 – What is the Trafficking in Persons Report

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Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak are joined by Chad Salitan, who serves in the State Department Trafficking in Persons office.  As a Deputy Coordinator for the Reports & Political Affairs Section, he works on the production of the annual TIP Report. He sheds light on the TIP Report and its value, the Tier statuses, and the 2018 report’s focus.

Key Points

  • The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is an annual report released by the State Department that covers what each foreign government in 187 countries are doing in the area of prosecuting the criminals, protecting the victims, and preventing the crime in the first place. 
  • The TIP Report is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic and diagnostic tool to guide relations with foreign governments on human trafficking.
  • The Tiers create a system where they judge whether the foreign government is making significant efforts, relative to its resources available, to make significant efforts to fight human trafficking.
  • The focus of the 2018 report was integrating partnership to emphasize public efforts at the community level.


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Dave: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 192, What is the Trafficking in Persons Report?

Production Credits: [00:00:09] Produced by Innovate Learning, maximizing human potential.

Dave: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie: [00:00:35] And my name is Sandie Morgan.

Dave: [00:00:38] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, so, many partnerships and organizations that are part of this effort, and today we have a guest with us that’s going to bring really substantial perspective to us on the Trafficking in Persons Report, right?

Sandie: [00:00:58] That’s right. I’m so, excited to have Chad Salitan.

Dave: [00:01:01] Chad Salitan is in the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons office as deputy coordinator for the Reports and political affairs section. He works with the management team to lead the U.S. government’s diplomatic engagement on sex trafficking and forced labor. Chad’s team researches and analyzes how to best combat trafficking and engages foreign government officials in Washington and abroad to promote the adoption of effective policies. The section is responsible for the production of the secretary of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, the TIP Report as it’s known, is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic and diagnostic tool to guide relations with foreign governments on human trafficking. Prior to this managing role, Chad served as an analyst on the same team with primary responsibility for countries in Europe and Asia. He joined the State Department in 2011 as a Presidential Management Fellow. Chad was born in Rochester, New York and earned his B.A. in International Relations from the State University of New York at Geneseo and has an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Chad, we are so, glad to welcome you to the podcast.

Chad: [00:02:16] Well, thank you very much for having me.

Sandie: [00:02:18] We’re excited to have a conversation that you and I have been trying to put together for a few months. But the annual Trafficking in Persons Report is a significant document that has emerged as a valuable evaluation tool. And also, for my students and a lot of my listeners, we look at it every year and we can see how it has improved, increased our capacity to understand international as well as national issues around this. So, tell us first why the TIP Report is even done. What is the value?

Chad: [00:02:56] Sure, thank you. And maybe I should zoom out first, just for those who don’t know, the Trafficking in Persons Report is an annual Report released by our State Department and at its core, it is a roundup of what each foreign government, each government around the world is doing on human trafficking. So, we cover 187 countries every year and each narrative in there covers each country and what each government is doing in the area of prosecuting the criminals, protecting the victims, and preventing the crime in the first place. We also, cover a kind of a profile of what trafficking looks like in each of these 187 countries. This Report has been going on since the year 2000 when the U.S. Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. That was also, the same year that the United Nations passed the Palermo protocol, as it’s commonly called, which is kind of a global compact to fight trafficking. So, that the two acts are actually quite similar in their approach and those three keys of prosecuting the traffickers, protecting the victims, and preventing the crime in the first place. The TIP Report also, is a collection of special topics where we try to delve into research into new areas, try to be on the cutting edge of various topics that are going on in the human trafficking community, new things that we’re learning, new ideas that we want to make sure to get out there. But it’s also- we try to remind the whole world each year about what trafficking is. There’s, of course, a lot of myths around it, which a few of your episodes have done a great job of trying to clear up, such as about movement and things like that. So, it’s also, a good reminder to try to increase global understanding about what human trafficking really means.

Sandie: [00:04:37] So, who uses the TIP Report?

Chad: [00:04:41] We have seen such a wide array of use. Now, I will say of course that we do make it for ourselves principally, and we do use it as our principal diplomatic tool because we use this as kind of the foundation for all the bilateral engagement we’re going to have government to government. So, if we want to say the U.S. and say the government of Moldova for example, you know where the basis for that conversation is going to be on what was in the last Trafficking in Persons Report because that Report is really pinpointing where the greatest needs are and also, where is any government really making progress that we could share with other governments in like situations. So, we do use it for ourselves quite a bit. Besides those diplomatic engagements, we also, use it in a diagnostic sense for our foreign assistance. So, the State Department and other agencies in the U.S. governments that says the USA does a lot of money every year, millions for specifically human trafficking and we want to make sure that that money is going towards the most needed areas. So, although you know the approach the trafficking is the same in terms of those three P’s, every government has specific areas where they would be most in need of assistance. And having the TIP Report, identifying where the biggest shortfalls are, we can target that foreign assistance. And it’s not just in terms of kind of funding non-governmental groups, but we also, try to find U.S. trainers to go abroad and say we might have a U.S. prosecutor go to a country and meet with their prosecutors, maybe a U.S. judge, U.S. investigator. We’ve had NGOs in the U.S. that do a great job here train NGOs that are working on similar programs in foreign countries. So, that’s another area where our foreign assistance can be targeted, but then it just gets really broad. You know we’ve heard about groups that have used the TIP Report in court cases and criminal cases where they’re trying to explain to judges and juries what trafficking is and what’s happening in the country because there is so, much unknown about human trafficking in the world. We’ve seen groups use this in multilateral fora. So, we’ll see this reference in the United Nations or in roundtables that happen internationally. I do love to hear when it’s being used in the classroom because as someone that was also, studying human trafficking in the classroom, it was nice to have this resource and to see more and more universities and professors want to take on human trafficking because it is an area of growing interest. But all of these things, it’s great to see the proliferation of its use.

Sandie: [00:07:13] Well I use it two ways. I use it in the community to try to guide a lot of the faith-based, especially donors, that they look at this first to see what’s happening where they’re going before they just go there. And then I do use it in the classroom significantly, our study abroad annually the students study these Reports and they go back five or 10 years so, that they can see where we’re going. Last year we were in Greece and this year will be back in Argentina. And so, the value of bringing the current students up to date on that is amazing. The other thing that will happen this time with this particular podcast is Ensure Justice is coming up in just a few days and all of the students taking it for credit will be listening to this podcast and they have a reading assignment based on the TIP Report. So, classroom use, professors out there listening to this, valuable resource and it doesn’t cost your students anything. So, just that little plug there. Probably the most confusing thing for a lot of people is the tier status, can you explain that for us?

Chad: [00:08:32] Yes there is a bit of fog around what the tiers are. So, I mentioned at the core of the Trafficking in Persons Report is a collection of country narratives and each narrative doesn’t just include all that information about what’s happening, it also, then assesses each country on a tier. And what the tiers do is try to create a system where we’re judging whether the government is making significant efforts relative to its resources available to make significant efforts to fight trafficking. When we started there were three tiers: tier 1, 2, and 3. Tier 1 meant that a government was making significant efforts, Tier 3 meant they were not, and they weren’t trying to do so. And then Tier 2 meant that while the government wasn’t hitting all the standards that we would hope that they would, they were at least making good faith efforts to try. Since we’ve created an in-between tier and between Tier 2 and Tier 3, called the Tier 2 Watch List that kind of serves as a red flag warning that a government is slipping, and the efforts are not increasing year over year. And the way we judge this is something called the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and the minimum standards are something that’s enshrined in law, it’s in that Trafficking Victims Protection Act that was passed in 2000. They’ve remained largely the same since that year which is good and also, important is that even though it’s in a U.S. law, they are international best practices. They do follow the prosecution, protection, and prevention paradigm and I think anybody would agree that these are solid waypoints for what a government should be doing to fight trafficking.

Sandie: [00:10:11] Okay so, that Tier 2 and Tier 2 Watch then they could have exactly the same score?

Chad: [00:10:19] Well the Tier 2 Watch List has essentially become the fourth tier in practice, so, a country that’s on Tier 2 means they’re not hitting all of those minimum standards. But the difference between 2 and Tier 2 Watch List is Tier 2 means the government is still really trying to hit all those standards and we see the efforts increasing year over year, whereas Tier 2 Watch List means we haven’t seen the efforts increase year over year. So, we see like a slowdown, we’re concerned that they might fall into the Tier 3. Tier 3 aside from the public notion of being on a public Report that says you’re in the lowest tier, it also, could come with U.S. restrictions on aid. So, the U.S. as I mentioned, gives a lot of money in aid, and some of that that’s not related to humanitarian efforts or trade efforts could be restricted. So, things related to education cultural exchanges, or military financing, things like that could be restricted if a country falls down to Tier 3. So, the Tier 2 Watch List serves as kind of a warning shot that we’re seeing the efforts backslide and we’re concerned that it could fall all the way to three.

Sandie: [00:11:27] And if it does fall all the way to three, then sanctions may follow?

Chad: [00:11:32] It could. That’s determined by the president. The State Department will decide the Tier and then the president decides which restrictions to waive and which ones to implement on a case by case basis. It’s actually quite a process to go through every single country and every single funding account to figure out which one which ones are going to be restricted. But it does happen every year that some countries do get restrictions on aid. So, it is a real downside to the Tier 3.

Sandie: [00:12:00] Well and that gives it, the tool, some teeth. And that’s of value as well. I was overseas when the TIP Report started, and it took me a year or so, to find it. And so, the first one of the first things though in a roundtable, when I was I was living in Athens, Greece, that was brought up to me is that- and it was by a diplomat from a country that we had some tension with- you Americans didn’t even include yourselves in this Report. And so, can you tell us a little bit about how that morphed into the current status?

Chad: [00:12:37] Yes, absolutely. So, from our first Report in 2001 through 2008, there is a pretty restricted number of countries that were actually included. We were really trying to include foreign governments, since this is the State Department where the foreign affairs agency and also, because we just finally hit like the biggest ones, with time we’ve added more and more countries to the point now that we’re at 187. And importantly for that diplomatic reason you just named, Secretary Hillary Clinton in her first year as secretary of state decided to include the United States in the Report, including a tier ranking. So, every year we do have to have a hard look at what the U.S. efforts are doing. And that’s you know an inter-agency effort among Homeland Security, and health services, and all the agencies about trying to judge ourselves each year and whether or not we’re meeting that Tier 1, meaning that we’re hitting all those minimum standards. It is a robust process. There is other Reporting on the U.S. I think what sometimes gets lost is that we’ve never Reported on ourselves. Actually, the attorney general does have a Report as well that’s hundreds of pages long that does also, cover U.S. efforts. But you’re right, it did seem out of place that it wasn’t in this U.S. trafficking Report since we were covering you know 180 some other countries why not the U.S. as well. So, since 2009 we have been in there, we have had to see whether or not we earned that Tier 1 ranking each year. And that will continue, I don’t see us ever removing the U.S. at this point.

Sandie: [00:14:01] OK. That’s really good news. So, let’s kind of segway there from how the Report is researched. We have access internally to all of these government agencies, but how do you research other countries where you may not have the same kind of access?

Chad: [00:14:19] Absolutely. So, this is actually part of the magic about what the U.S. government can do. Some people ask you know why is the U.S. government doing this? And part of the reasons is that we’re actually uniquely placed to do it because of our global reach with our embassies. So, the United States has embassies in almost every country in the world. Diplomatic relations almost everywhere. And we have foreign service officers who are well-trained to meet with interlocutors in each country on human trafficking. That’s one of the main roles of my office is to train foreign service officers and meet with them before they go out to the embassies to have these meetings on human trafficking. So, what we have now is just like a global information system that feeds back information that can go into the U.S. to Report. And our embassies can meet with all kinds of people they can of course principally meet with foreign governments. And we have access to all the right, in most in almost every case, all the right people that are working on human trafficking in the country. We can meet with them and get the primary source information but we can also, meet with the non-governmental groups, those that are running victim shelters, those that are running in any kind of campaigns in schools, and any group that’s running a hotline in the country, or anything like that we can meet with them in almost all cases and also, get the information from non-governmental sources. In addition to that, my office does join embassies for that travel so, we can amplify how many such meetings we can get. But that’s really the core piece of it. But in addition, there’s all kinds of sourcing that goes into this as well. Just within the U.S. government, we have our kind of sister office and the Department of Labor that works on the child labor Report that of course has a lot of child labor and fourthly Report, they have a lot of crossovers. We have the human rights bureau in the State Department that increases the human rights Report and they have a section talking about prostitution and things like that. So, there’s some crossover. We, of course, can meet with law enforcement and see their sourcing on international crime that’s happening internationally and there’s the International Labor Organization committee of experts. They released an annual Report that’s hugely valuable. The U.N. has a special repertoire that gets to do special access visits and they produce a publicly available Report to the media. Of course, we have good access to translation services. So, we’re following media in many languages, looking and seeing what’s happening in foreign governments. And of course, I think just nongovernmental groups again even those that aren’t based in D.C., we build connections so, they can submit Reporting to us directly as well as through our embassies. And also, we have related, we have our grantees. That money that was given out every year, the grantees Report back you know what they’re working on. And just by telling us how they’re partnering with foreign governments, we can get a sense of foreign government efforts that are happening. One thing I should’ve said earlier, I must correct myself, you know the TIP Report, one misconception is that we’re only talking about what kinds of trafficking is happening. I should clarify that what the TIP Report really focuses on is government efforts. That’s why you know you can see countries that you can assume have a fairly large trafficking problem, but they’re not just going to be on Tier 3. If the government is making great efforts, then they don’t deserve to be on Tier 3. That’s really what we’re judging. So, that’s what we’re looking for in all these sources I just mentioned. It’s not just what kind of trafficking is happening, but really what are all the government efforts that are going into fighting it.

Sandie: [00:17:41] So, then you gather that sounds like, just for want of a more technical term, a humungous amount of data. How do you process all of that once you get to work in the morning?

Chad: [00:17:56] Thank you. Yes, it is, it is actually quite a lift. I think that it also, is a kudos to the U.S. government that they have decided that they are going to fund my office to the point that we have a few dozen people that are just working on this issue. We have people that are just focusing on a handful of countries and they can really dig in and become subject matter experts on what these foreign governments are doing. We have a lot of champions in Congress, I have recognized this, and I think it’s just a statement of how the U.S. government is committed to being a global leader on this issue because they have decided that we’re going to commit our embassy officers and commit this office to just gathering and analyzing all this data.

Sandie: [00:18:38] Okay. Well, I’m already looking at the clock and thinking we could have like three or four hours talking about these things, but let’s move on and let’s talk about the focus in the 2018 Report. Secretary Pompeo said, “Every year our Report focuses on a specific thing. This year’s TIP Report highlights the critical work of local communities to stop traffickers and provide support to victims. Human trafficking is a global problem but it’s a local one too. Human trafficking can be found in a favorite restaurant, a hotel, downtown, a farm, or in their neighbor’s home.” So, can you talk about the focus on local communities and how that contributes to earlier discussions back in 2010, 2012 about a fourth P, partnership?

Chad: [00:19:36] Yes, absolutely. So, our office definitely wants to have a focus on partnership. And there are many facets to that, what partnership really means. Now in the actual TIP Report narratives, we do stick to the prosecution, protection, prevention. But I think that’s because partnership needs to be integrated into all three of them. And that’s actually enshrined in our minimum standards, that rubric that we use to evaluate tier rankings is that national governments should be partnering and all levels of what they’re doing for anti-human trafficking work. So, a lot of what we were focusing on 2018 was about public efforts, public sector. So, moving down from the national level to subnational, whether that’s state level or at the local community because a lot of this work can’t be done just at the national level. You know when you follow the case studies about people that actually ended up subjected to trafficking you know it happened at the local level, right? So, there was someone there that there was a recruitment that was happened, there was transportation that happens, potentially not always. And there was that end point of exploitation, that all happens you know outside of saying a legislature, outside of what the president’s office did. So, we have to get on the ground level and to do that national governments need to equip local government level to fight this. So, that means getting out there training, say state level and local level law enforcement about how to look at trafficking, making sure that victim services can reach that level that they’re not just say available in the capital if that’s not going to be useful for victims and for investigators that need to rely on victim’s testimony, looking to see how the recruitment chain works because it’s not just going to happen in the capital city someplace. But beyond that partnership, we’re also, looking at the private sector. So, what is the responsibility of corporations and other businesses to look deep into their supply chains. And of course, the cutting-edge research being done into what needs to be done, what can be done, but how can the public-private partnership work where we can make the private sector aware of what they need to be looking for and how do you ensure that there isn’t forced labor in their supply chains. But also, say along with a carrot, offer the stick that if there is such that we need to have oversight, that we need to have labor inspections, we need to have oversight on contracts on recruitment feed, passport confiscation, all of these things but you know instead of just making it about enforcement and being the bad guy how can we work together with private sector to make them a proactive partner in combating this.

Sandie: [00:22:17] And does that mean we have to figure out ways to incentivize their participation or support?

Chad: [00:22:25] Absolutely and there are some interesting ways we’re seeing that. One of the most talked about ones that’s happening in the UK with the Modern Slavery Act. The United Kingdom has a system now where corporations of a large enough size have to Report what they are doing to look into their supply chains, make sure there’s no forced labor there. There is no actual punishment mechanism if a corporation isn’t doing enough, but just by merely asking it’s forcing boards of directors to look at what can they do because they don’t want to Report it. I think a lot of them you know just naturally don’t want to Report hey we’re not doing anything on this. Just the idea that the government can set an expectation that corporations should be Reporting on this is incentivizing some boards to do something. Nobody wants to be put in a bad light when it comes to fighting human trafficking and that’s actually part of the magic with the Trafficking in Persons Report with governments is that you know, sanctions or no sanctions, everybody wants to be seen as doing well. This is just so, globally agreed upon as something we need to be working on.

Sandie: [00:23:26] Well and that’s where I feel like California really has been a leader in the U.S. because we pass a Supply Chain Transparency Act in 2010 and it has given our advocates a method to go to a corporation and say you’re not compliant with this and our state requires that you have this on your website and then consumers and non-NGO advocates can press forward but they’re looking for some more teeth. So, I’m going to be watching to see what kind of federal legislation comes in the wake of what they did in the UK because we do feel like it is something that is timely and needs to move forward.

Chad: [00:24:10] Yes, I should have mentioned California first as well.

Sandie: [00:24:14] Well that’s ok.

Chad: [00:24:16] You are right and there is some criticism about the lack of teeth. But I think there always has to be a first step. So, I think just as a start, asking that corporations Report is a good first step, right? And I think next maybe we’ll be seeing that there’s the enforcement mechanism and we are already seeing some enforcement mechanism as you find with the Customs and Border Patrol has been doing over the last couple of years, they’ve really beefed up their office that’s looking at imports into the United States and using intelligence to judge when some of those products, any part of them, might have been used with forced labor and actually refusing to release those imports if they have enough information to support a claim of forced labor.

Sandie: [00:25:01] Yeah, the DOL Sweat and Toil app, we’ve done a podcast on that in the past, and it’s got like 8,000 pages of research condensed into an app you can carry around when you make choices to purchase things. Wow, Chad we are going to come back to you again in two weeks and we’re going to talk about one of the special topics in this Report, child institutionalization. But I want to close out this episode with just one more touch on the importance of local communities that you mentioned and how they have specific knowledge. And I love the quote in the TIP Report from Carlos Perez, a project coordinator at the UNODC in Colombia, “women who recruit in their native country know the dreams hopes of other women and also, their problems. And as such, they can make a much more attractive offer.” I love how you integrate not just the data, but the personal stories involved in trafficking. Thank you so, much for being with us this week.

Chad: [00:26:16] Thank you.

Dave: [00:26:16] Well thank you, Sandie. Thank you so, much, Chad. As Sandie mentioned, Chad’s going to be back with us here in two weeks on Episode 193, so, stay tuned for lots more. In the meantime, we’re inviting you to take the very first step, if you haven’t already. We invite you to hop online and download a copy of Sandie’s book, The Five Things You Must Know, a quick start guide to ending human trafficking. That guide will teach you the five critical things that Sandie has identified through her work here at the Global Center for Women and Justice that you should know before you join the fight against human trafficking. You can get access by going over to endinghumantrafficking.org. And if today’s episode has raised a question for you and you’d like to discuss further, you can always reach us by email feedback@endinghumantrafficking.org. And a reminder that the Ensure Justice conference is coming up here March 1st and 2nd 2019. Details on that at ensurejustice.com. And we will be back in two weeks for our next conversation with Chad. Thanks, everybody. Take care.

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