206 – Leveraging the Data in the Trafficking in Persons Report

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Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak are once again joined by Chad Salitan to discuss this year’s Trafficking in Persons Report. Chad is the Deputy Senior Coordinator at the Trafficking in Persons Office of the U.S. Department of State. Chad brings knowledge on not only what the TIP Report is, but key differences in the 2019’s edition.

Key Points

  • Tier rankings are exclusively measuring government effort to combat human trafficking, starting at the highest with Tier 1 to the lowest at Tier 3.
  • There is movement every year between tiers, for 2019 specifically, there were 25 downgrades 24 upgrades. 
  • The Tier rankings are also a good resource for grant fundings and financial aid in order to help focus available resources to countries that have the highest needs.


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Dave [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 206, Leveraging the Data in the Trafficking in Persons Report.

Production Credits [00:00:10] Produced by Innovate Learning, maximizing human potential.

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

Sandie [00:00:36] 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, one of the resources that has been just tremendous to all of us who want to study the issues, so we can really make a difference on this issue is the Trafficking in Persons Report that’s released annually from the State Department. And we have talked about it a number of times on past episodes. And today we are pleased to welcome back to the show Chad, who’s going to really assist us in really diving in and in more detail on the most recent report.

Sandie [00:01:14] Yes and I’m, so excited to have Chad Salitan. He’s the Deputy Senior Coordinator, Trafficking in Persons office in Washington D.C. And when I started reading this year’s report, I knew we had to bring him back. He was on a podcast in March in podcast number 192, What is the Trafficking in Persons Report. And we immediately followed that with podcast 193, Child Institutionalization and Human Trafficking. So, Chad, welcome back.

Chad [00:01:47] Thank you for having me.

Sandie [00:01:49] So, let’s start off with what were your feelings about releasing this report? What was that one thing that you were the most excited about?

Chad [00:01:59] Oh, well this was report number nineteen for our office. So, we were very pleased to get this one out. Each year, it’s frankly a Herculean effort to produce this report over 500 pages. As you may have noticed your arms got heavy if you were carrying it. Well, we were producing a really comprehensive report this year and we’re really proud of our introduction, which covers the theme of encouraging governments to address all forms of human trafficking with a special emphasis on trafficking that takes place exclusively within the borders of the country. So, absent any transnational movement and it’s sometimes an overlooked part of the global human trafficking sites, that’s what we want to focus on this year.

Sandie [00:02:40] Well let’s talk about that because sometimes when I’m traveling internationally, I have this conversation and people feel that I’m not talking about human trafficking, that I’m talking about something else. And, so for me anybody that has been obtained or recruited through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for any purpose, sex or labor, that’s human trafficking. So, why would there be some confusion?

Chad [00:03:10] And I ever see the same confusion. I’ve been in countless meetings with foreign government officials where we initially have to start the conversation by really defining the type of vulnerable populations that we’re really looking to protect with our work. What we’re talking about is reinforced through international law though. The United Nations Palermo protocol is very clear that each state party of which there is over 170 countries that are part of it should establish a domestic law that explains the trafficking that occurs both within and between their borders. So, it’s already there in international law, and more importantly when you talk to practitioners, when you talk to the ILO, you look at global estimates it actually just suggests that traffickers exploit a majority of victims without moving them from one country to another. So, it’s a huge population of victims of vulnerable people that are not going across borders that we need to keep an eye on.

Sandie [00:04:08] So, can you give us a couple of examples?

Chad [00:04:11] Yes, of course. And I should add that we didn’t want to, of course, minimize the importance of transnational human trafficking, but we want to call attention to some of the phenomena that we are seeing that’s happening purely within borders. So, if you’re to say in Cambodia, for example, you know areas where there’s lack of jobs in rural areas you know try to find work in the tourist cities where there’s more foreign money coming in. Traffickers may exploit them in sex trafficking, underground massage parlors, karaoke bars, beer gardens, things like that. So, there was movement, but it wasn’t transnational, right? Another example, say in Ethiopia, where you see sadly traffickers deceiving parents of their children that live in areas where opportunities are scant and they’re sending their children with these traffickers unknowingly thinking that their children going to major cities to have a decent work, have living conditions, food security. The traffickers promise the families that the children will go to school receive wages for their work, but of course the reality is much different. We see even in places like the United Kingdom where gangs are forcing British children to carry drugs. And you know the UK National Crime Agency is reporting that the largest group of potential victims actually is U.K. nationals, that are being referred to the human trafficking network. So, cases like this where you see kind of things that are even more extant examples like in Yemen where you see the ongoing armed conflict and there’s of course a range of human rights violations. But of course, you have many parties that are using child soldiers, 842 verified cases in the last year of boys as young as 11 years old being forced to work in paramilitary groups. In the United States, not to leave us out, you know we have a huge problem with internal trafficking in traffickers preying on children, especially those coming from the foster care system, something that we talked about in earlier podcasts. Recent reports have consistently indicated that a large number of victims of child sex trafficking in the United States were at one time had a situation where the traditional family care model wasn’t there, they had a rough family life growing up. So, huge problem everywhere in the United States and elsewhere. And it takes many forms just like transnational trafficking and it needs the spotlight on it just like cross-border trafficking does.

Sandie [00:06:25] This is super helpful. And I know I’ve followed quite a bit of the internal trafficking for sex trafficking in the U.S. Do we have examples of internal labor trafficking?

Chad [00:06:39] Oh yeah absolutely. There’s no shortage, unfortunately, we have quite a problem ourselves. We have I would say hospitality, agriculture, janitorial services, construction, restaurants, care for persons with disabilities and say the elderly is something we’re paying an increase in attention to, salon services, massage parlors, fares and carnivals, drug smuggling is something that I think is increasing attention, child care, domestic work, a whole range unfortunately of industries where we see particularly vulnerable people and those that have been trafficked and confirmed victims in those areas.

Sandie [00:07:17] And I want to challenge our listeners to take a moment go to the link in the show notes to look at the report and look up the United States because many times we are, so focused on over there that we overlook our own backyard. And this report reveals a significant amount of trafficking that we can be part of right on the frontline in our own communities. You brought up the hospitality industry, and where do we usually see trafficking victims in the hospitality industry?

Chad [00:07:51] One area where particular focus has been on cleaning services. Those are all often contracted out. Maybe the hotel staff doesn’t have a closer look at what’s happening there. But you know anything in the service industry that’s more easily exploited because they’re not direct employees can lead to a vulnerability where forced labor can come up.

Sandie [00:08:13] And I’ve had that experience, I’ve talked to hotel managers and directors, and their response is, “those people don’t work for us, they’re third party contractors. So, we don’t have any control.” So, building more awareness and competency in identifying and actually taking some steps to alert law enforcement or Department of Labor, that would be the correct response.

Chad [00:08:41] Absolutely. I think anybody would care about human trafficking if they knew about it. So, it’s really just educating, informing, and of course creating the cultural norm that what happens with your business, if you’re a business owner, is your responsibility even if it’s not a direct employee.

Sandie [00:08:57] And having the knowledge and the awareness to see people. I think, I live in Orange County and the hospitality industry is a part of our tourist industry here, very significant to our county’s GDP. So, the whole idea of people sort of facilitating the enjoyment of a meal, of an activity, we don’t look at those people and really recognize them as part of our conversation, they’re there to support what we’re doing. And so, I think it takes an adjustment in our awareness of the people around us. And that’s part of human dignity and human rights.

Chad [00:09:43] Yes, absolutely.

Sandie [00:09:44] The other thing that I noticed in this report was there was some changes in the tier levels for some countries. And, so I’d like to kind of look at two questions. How are the tiers decided? And then talk about some of the most significant changes in tier levels for countries either up or down.

Chad [00:10:10] Yes, absolutely. So, as listeners may know from the earlier podcast, the bulk of the TIP Report is spent discussing foreign government efforts. We have this year 187 countries that have an assessment and have a tier ranking assigned to each one. There are four tier rankings. There’s tier one, two, and three. And then there’s an in-between two and three, known as the watch list. All of this is based on you know the extensive work that we’re doing year round to collect information, evaluate it, corroborate it, talk with foreign government officials, talking with non-governmental groups, whole array of open sources, anything that’s submitted to us at our email address tipreport@state.gov. We do all of this, then we have our best assessment and the report.

Sandie [00:10:52] Wait, just wait just a second. I’m going to interrupt you. You just gave us an email address. So, anybody from any of those 187 countries can send you a report?

Chad [00:11:03] We keep an open e-mail box tipreport@state.gov CIPAreport@State.gov. Of course please do include what organization you’re working with and you know why the information is credible, of course. Then you know what if you’re working in country, things like that. But we have a lot of groups that we truly appreciate that submit to this box and every year we take all of those reports into consideration.

Sandie [00:11:24] Okay thanks. Go ahead now, sorry.

Chad [00:11:27] Sure. So, I will just explain the 4 tiers. So, countries that are in Tier 1, which is the highest, are countries whose governments are fully meeting the minimum standards which is kind of our rubric of what we’re using to evaluate each country. It is largely consistent with the U.N. Palermo Protocol. I think everyone would agree that the rubric we’re using, which we publish in the book it’s transparent. Everyone would agree that these are the key metrics that governments should be using to fight human trafficking. They may want to emphasize one over another, but we do we try to use the exact same rubric for every country every year. So, countries on Tier 1 are meeting those minimum standards. That doesn’t mean that they’re forever off the hook, it really is more of responsibility than a reprieve. And any country is liable to fall off Tier One any year, but Tier 1 is the highest. Tier two are for those governments that are not fully meeting the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to do so. Tier 3, the lowest, is where we don’t think significant efforts are being made. And a watch list is kind of in between tier where we’re not seeing efforts improving year over year. Important in that is that we’re not trying to rank countries based on prevalence, prevalence is notoriously difficult to measure. We’re getting better at it with time, the global community is getting better at it with time, but it’s very difficult to measure. What we’re looking at is government efforts exclusively is how the tier rankings are being put together. So, 2019 report, there’s a lot of movement every year, there was 25 downgrades 24 upgrades. So, that when you have only had one hundred and eighty some countries there are a lot of movement from year to year, and that’s a good thing it keeps it fresh. We’re always using fresh information each year. We want the information to just be for the last calendar year that we’re looking at. So, it’s relevant and it’s a new assessment each year. Talking about tier ones, you know it’s not a forever permanent seal of approval. We actually had six countries that lost their Tier 1 status. So, that was quite notable. We had four governments that were newly ranked on tier three, which is the lowest. We had five countries that merited an upgrade off of Tier Three. So, a lot of movement going around 19 countries receive upgrades. But you know there’s a lot of good news stories too. We’d like to bring up the example of the Philippines because you know the Philippines admittedly it does have a large number of trafficking victims and they’re not the richest country, but they are able to do a lot of work on human trafficking and they have maintained a Tier 1 ranking for several years now. Quite a good news story that they have. You know, this year we noted how they were implementing prosecution procedures that reduce the potential for further harm to child sex trafficking victims. You looked at how they were convicting and punishing traffickers. They had robust efforts to prevent trafficking of Filipino migrant workers and assist those who were victims overseas. They actually go out and have extensive services available for overseas, it’s quite laudable. So, Tier 1 is not just a club for U.S. allies and those that have a ton of money to do work on this, we try to keep resources and available capacity into account when we’re doing these tier rankings.

Sandie [00:14:42] Okay, so this rubric is in the report, for especially my students who are listening to this because this will be assigned in one of our courses. I think that the understanding of how those rankings are made also helps us determine how we begin to plan to be part of the solution. And, so it’s a very helpful rubric. And for most of us in higher education, rubrics are what we live by, that’s how we grade things. And not because of preference for one or the other, but as a measuring stick, so that we know how to improve, and it helps us focus the resources we do have, and I think that transfers very easily to this issue as well. What I kind of would like to know also is in downgrading a particular country, the process there and the relationship with that country. Can you give us a little more insight into that?

Chad [00:15:49] Sure, absolutely. So, I mean internally every country receives the tier ranking assessment and we go through the process internally of sussing out all the information, verifying, evaluating, and then making sure everyone in the department gets a chance to review and weigh in as well. In terms of how that plays out externally, you know, the U.S. does approach this in a spirit of partnership. This is you know Department of State,, so diplomacy is our number one job. We do consider this to be a shared fight. You know everyone is party to Palermo almost at this point there is consensus on the challenge. So, the TIP Report rankings are just our contribution to trying to help countries identify the areas of biggest need. It is hard to self-reflect and to explicitly call out your own weaknesses and suggest different solutions, but you know we can do that respectively. So, we have year-round talks with our foreign government partners in terms of collecting data, exchanging ideas, identifying areas that maybe the U.S. can help in. We do have you know millions of dollars each year in foreign aid that goes specifically to human trafficking. We have a lot of people working in Washington and overseas that can work on diplomatic engagement. We have U.S. practitioners like judges and hotline operators, prosecutors, investigators, FBI agents that are willing to help and say go overseas and work with their counterparts in other governments to train. So, it is of course sensitive to do a downgrade, as I’m sure you were suggesting, but because we approach it out of respect and out of the spirit of partnership over the last 19 years I think we’ve been quite successful in making this a tool that governments continue to mutually respect and that they use themselves to help in their fight against trafficking and that they continue to partner on. I mean, most of the information we get in for the Trafficking in Persons report comes from foreign governments and they do that because they want us to have a good picture of what’s happening.

Sandie [00:17:51] That’s really helpful.

Chad [00:17:51] They want to be good collaborators.

Sandie [00:17:54] You know I’m always comparing and triangulating and, so I look at one list and I compare it to another. And one of the things that I looked at this year was the list of grant opportunities that came out of the State Department and I began to see the trend that when a country was downgraded or had significant gaps, we were also there to offer financial resources to contribute to the solution. Is that something that your office does? How does that happen?

Chad [00:18:32] Explicitly, we take in tiered ranking into consideration when deciding which countries and programs will be priorities for our annual grant funding. So, it’s not, so the tier rankings have a secondary function as you’re suggesting for our own office, and of course any other aid giving groups that would like to use it, where we think some of the need is greatest. And also, because each country narrative includes recommendations, we now include what countries may be in the biggest need but also exactly where their biggest need might be, whether it’s in setting up say a dedicated prosecution unit or if they really need help in better shelter care things like that. So, we try to make it diagnostic in terms of helping guide grant funding.

Sandie [00:19:21] So, I transfer that then to my faith-based community and I serve as co-chair of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship Commission on Sexual Exploitation, Slavery, and Trafficking. And, so using that particular rubric can help even a faith-based group that is supporting anti-trafficking work in another country through their local church. They can see how they can get the biggest bang for their buck, is what my dad used to say, and make a difference by addressing something that is measurable.

Chad [00:20:00] Absolutely and part of the work we do here in Washington is meet with groups that would like to request the consultation and explain anything else that we can to go further in depth on a specific country to say where we think the opportunities are. Then we can further connect them with our partners in country, both at our U.S. embassies and the main actors and the government and nongovernmental community, so they can help build inroads in foreign areas and work on this problem effectively.

Sandie [00:20:30] So, do you want to tell us how someone might reach out to schedule a consultation like that.

Chad [00:20:38] The email address that I gave earlier the TIPreport@state.gov is consistently monitored and we do our best to keep in touch with those that reach out to us.

Sandie [00:20:47] OK I hope you don’t like get inundated but I do think that your office is often overlooked as a primary resource right here in our own country to help us do better at how we direct our resources as well because there is a great deal of motivation to address this issue and the faith based community has been a leader in funding opportunities. And I was talking yesterday to someone who explained to me they had research that showed 70 percent of Residential Child Care globally was funded by faith-based leaders. And, so how we do that and how we measure our effectiveness, we need as many tools as we can find.

Chad [00:21:39] Absolutely. And you know one of the great things that’s happened over the last two decades is just the ballooning of the number of groups that have also become experts, in their own right, on human trafficking. That maybe it’s you know partly a good thing that my office isn’t the only one you know. That we have groups like Lumos, who can be experts on how trafficking intersects with residential foster care system, like you mentioned. And we have you know all of these other NGOs that can pick up niche areas whether geographically or thematically and they can be the best experts. Disability Rights International fantastic NGO that does reporting on where we’ll see horrendous abuses in residential facilities for disabled people. And [00:22:26]so you know we can have this proliferation of experts and we can increase our knowledge collectively. It’s fantastic. [5.6s]

Sandie [00:22:32] The collaborative energy out of this is hard to measure, that’s for sure. But you guys are doing a really good job. We’ve got just a few minutes to wrap this up. So, I want to give you an opportunity to tell us what was the most significant aspect of preparing this this year and what did that create in you for what you want to do with the next year’s report?

Chad [00:23:00] Absolutely. So, one of the significant aspects this year is that we have a new captain at our helm, so Ambassador at Large Don Richmond. This was his first TIP report. He was confirmed by the Senate late last year. So, that always brings some new perspective on the report and he’s coming with a wealth of backgrounds. You know having been working at IJM, the Human Trafficking Institute, and he also helped stand up the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Unit. So, as a former prosecutor and with all that experience, he brought some really helpful insights for my team to know what we want to look for in more detail when it comes to certain aspects of evaluating foreign governments human trafficking efforts. One of the biggest contributions that I really appreciated that he brought to this report was how important dedicated prosecution units are. And he really emphasized, and of course prosecution just one of the three P’s with the protection prevention. But looking at dedicated prosecution units, they are, so important to the whole system because trafficking is hidden, because victims usually don’t want to cooperate with law enforcement. You need just a unit with that breadth, that depth of expertise, that’s there for years, that understands how human traffickers coerce their victims to do what they do, so they can provide that subject matter expertise. I mean, unfortunately, this crime is really hard to prosecute. You know most of the time its psychological coercion being used, so it’s you know that’s hard evidence to collect. What you need is someone that understands how to build trust with the victim, that has enough time to build trust with the victim, that can work on a case for years; that knows the system that he or she is working in, so that they know how to give immigration relief, so that they know shelter operators, that they know translation interpretation services, they know how to connect them with the right NGOs for this specific vulnerable person, so that they can basically develop a victim that is a good witness and a trial. And that’s the only way you’re going to get the traffickers behind bars. So, it’s something we paid increased attention to this year and I think now that Ambassador Richmond will have another full year with our office, it’s something that we will continue to look at comprehensively as best we can and working with foreign governments to have those specialized prosecutors investigators and such within their governments because we think that model is really important.

Sandie [00:25:27] That’s exciting, very exciting. And I’m encouraged that you are, so enthusiastic about this new direction too, so I think that’s really exciting. I’m also really interested in continuing to follow last year’s focus on the institutionalization of children. Are there any updates in that arena?

Chad [00:25:52] It’s something that we’re definitely keeping an eye on because we have found it to be a particular area that’s a vulnerability for children and those that age out. So, it’s something that while we’re in our data collection mode now that we will make that part of our focus in terms of asking those questions of what the situation with parental rights is and what happens to children that aren’t with their birth parents. So, we’re going to grow the pie of data that we have, we’re going to meet with our partners, were going to ask those questions when we’re meeting with foreign government officials, and we’re going to try to integrate that more into our country narratives.

Sandie [00:26:31] Oh well this is exciting, and I can’t wait until we get to talk to you again next year, and I know it’ll be revealing. In the meantime, we’re going to spend some time studying five hundred pages. You know, I have a copy of the first report, and it is not 500 pages. So, you guys have really grown, just kudos to you and thank you, so much for your excellence.

Chad [00:27:00] Well thank you and its kudos to the whole community. I mean our expertise is just a function of how much information we can collect from those experts out in the field. So, as you said a collaborative effort that we are able to produce such a rich and detailed report.

Sandie [00:27:15] Robust would be the word I’d love to use for that. Thank you again, Chad.

Chad [00:27:19] Of course. Thank you.

Dave [00:27:20] Thank you, Chad. And just, so much information here, Sandie. And of course, we’re going to have links to everything in the notes. For those of you who have not been on the State Department Web site before and downloaded the report, we’ll get you headed that way. A tremendous resource for you as you’re diving in on more data. And you also can take an additional first step if perhaps is the first time you’re listening to the podcast and want to dive in on a beginning point. We’re inviting you also to hop online and download a copy of Sandie’s book. It’s a very short read, The Five Things You Must Know, a quick start guide to ending human traffic. It’s a great place to start, it’ll give you the five critical things that Sandie and the Global Center for Women and Justice have identified that you should know before you join the fight against human trafficking. You can find access to that and all of the links and resources of the report. By going over to endinghumantrafficking.org. And when you get there, you’ll find all of our past episodes we’ve been airing since 2011. And of course, we’ll be back with our next conversation in just two weeks. Sandie, always a pleasure and look forward to seeing you back in two weeks.

Sandie [00:28:32] Thanks, Dave.

Dave [00:28:33] Take care, everyone.

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