5 – Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

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Learn about the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report that is issued by the U.S. State Department. Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak discuss the importance of the report and some of its key components that will help you study the issues of human trafficking.

Key Points

  • The TIP Report fulfills the requirements of the Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA) that was passed by Congress in 2000. Since then, the report has grown to cover 175 Countries to better help spur global action against modern-day slavery.
  • The report focuses on countries’ efforts regarding the 4 P’s: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnership.
  • Each country is evaluated through four tiers to determine what governments are complying with the minimum standards outlined in the TVPA.


[Note from the Ending Human Trafficking podcast team: This episode was recorded in 2011 so the contact information provided is no longer accurate. Please refer endinghumantrafficking.org/contact for the correct contact information to get in touch with the EHT podcast.]

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Dave [00:00:01] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number five recorded in June 2011. Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie [00:00:29] And my name is Sandra Morgan.

Dave [00:00:31] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Glad to be back with you again, Sandie.

Sandie [00:00:41] Hi, Dave. It’s good to be here. I am so excited to talk about the Trafficking in Persons report. This is a report that the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons produces annually since the first Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed in 2000. And it is amazing. It has grown so that it covers 175 countries and helps us find and raise global awareness so that we spur countries to take effective action to counter trafficking, to counter modern-day slavery.

Dave [00:01:17] So, today’s topic is really going to look at exploring this report, which did it just come out or just about to come out?

Sandie [00:01:23] It’s due out June 2011. So, any day now.

Dave [00:01:27] OK, great. So, we’ll learn a little bit more about what this report is about and specifically how this report adds value to the global fight against human trafficking. And if this report or anything else we talk about today is something you’d like to know more about, be sure to send us some feedback or even send us an audio voicemail. And we’d be happy to include your comments on an upcoming show and answer your questions. The best way to do that, there’s actually two ways to do that. One is to call us, and you can reach us at the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University. And that number is 714-556-3610 and Sandie’s office is the extension 2242. The other great way to reach us is via email. And Sandie, that address?

Sandie [00:02:19] GCWJ@vanguard.edu

Dave [00:02:28] And if you’re looking for the Web site to Sandie’s office at Vanguard, that’s actually very easy to get to as well. It’s just GCWJ.Vanguard.edu and you can find a number of resources and information about human trafficking and some of the other advocacy that the center is working on as well. And I should mention before we get started, Sandie, we did get some feedback already from some of the past episodes. And in particular, we received a comment from Bruce in Pennsylvania. So, if you’re listening, we are actually working on your answer. So, we will be answering that on an upcoming show. Sandie’s doing some research right now. So, thanks again for everyone who’s already reached out to us about the podcast. We’re excited to be getting feedback and hearing from you. Also, we look forward to continuing the conversation as the weeks and months go on and we continue to explore future episodes. And by the way, we should mention if you have suggestions for things, you’d like us to cover. We’re also open to that, too.

Sandie [00:03:27] Exactly. We want to be a good resource so that you can have the opportunity to study the issues and know what to say and know what to do.

Dave [00:03:37] Yeah. Which brings us to our topic today, which is looking at the Trafficking in Persons report that is put out by the State Department. And you had mentioned a little bit about the report already, Sandie. Could you, for those of us who aren’t familiar, and I’m aware that there is a report and I’ve seen it before, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of this and even how the State Department is involved in really ending human trafficking? And, of course, we’re talking about the U.S. State Department. So, I wondered if you could even before we talk about the report in detail, for those of us who may not be very familiar, what type of structure and resources does the U.S. State Department have in place at a high level to really combat trafficking?

Sandie [00:04:23] Well, this is part of a law that Congress passed in 2000 called the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. And by law, the Department of State is required to submit to the U.S. Congress a report on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons. So, this report is generated in order to fulfill that requirement. And as the report has developed over the years, it’s gone from a brief report with paragraphs to a very lengthy report. And the latest version that I have in front of me is over 350 pages. So, it’s very extensive. And in the 2010 report, which was announced and released by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, then it covered 175 countries, now, including the United States. In the past, we did not include ourselves, but now we do. And this is an important upgrade in the report as well because if we’re going to be evaluating efforts, we need to include our own efforts in that report.

Dave [00:05:35] I’d like to learn more about that, Sandie, as to why we are included now, and we weren’t before. But even before we get there, could you give us an overview of what this report speaks to and what type of information is provided by the government?

Sandie [00:05:50] Well, I think it really speaks to one of our main goals of studying the issues. We can’t really strategize how to end human trafficking because it’s a global phenomenon unless we understand where it’s happening, why it’s happening, really study what’s happening. So, by getting these reports from all these different countries and evaluating where they are in the battle, we begin to have a baseline for effective actions to counter the trafficking of persons. That means that we’re going to find out what they’re doing as a government to legislate, so that we have laws in place in order to prosecute perpetrators. We want to know how well people are able to care for possible victims and what kind of efforts are happening with prevention. So, in the past, we followed the three Ps of prevention, protection, and prosecution. In the 2010 report, we added partnership, which is a critical aspect of building collaboration globally so that we have a better safety net and can begin to see human trafficking, modern-day slavery end. The evaluation tool that’s used is a three-tier process and the tier levels are Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 were placed in practice with the 2000 report. And eventually, we added a third category that is kind of halfway between Tier 2 and Tier 3 called the Tier 2 watch list.

Dave [00:07:29] And so these tiers, what exactly are they evaluating? Are they evaluating certain areas of the world, countries, or geography areas?

Sandie [00:07:39] Each country will get a tier evaluation. So, for instance, tier one, those are countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards. Tier 2 countries are governments that do not fully comply; however, they’re making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. The Tier 2 watch list are those governments that do not fully comply but are making significant efforts AND the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is significant or significantly increasing, or there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms, or the determination that a country is making efforts to bring themselves into compliance and is based on the commitments of that country to take future steps during the next calendar year. Those are the watch list. Tier 3 are the governments that do not comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts. So, for instance, in my own personal experience, living in Greece, as we ran up close to the Olympics, there was a great desire to come on board and be in compliance globally with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. And consequently, legislation was passed in the Greek parliament that met the same standards so that Greece was then Tier 2. So, it went from Tier 3 to Tier 2. And this was part of a global effort. And the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was a big piece of urging and motivating that action.

Dave [00:09:24] So, how does this break down as far as are most countries in Tier 1 or Tier 2, or do you have a feel for that in the recent report, Sandie?

Sandie [00:09:34] Well, the majority of countries are in the Tier 2 level. Tier 3, we have some significant problems in places like North Korea, Niger, and Sudan. You can easily go online and get an entire list of the countries and where they are. Tier 1 placements are very much what you would expect from the more Western developed world: Australia, Finland, and most of Europe. So, Tier 1 is really placing where we look for other people that are coming on board to help us in places where we are having problems more from the source countries. So, Tier 1 countries tend to be destination countries and are in a more affluent part of the world.

Dave [00:10:30] So, just because a country has a Tier 1 status doesn’t mean that there’s no work to be done around ending human trafficking in those places, it literally just means what you said as far as what the government policies are within that particular country.

Sandie [00:10:46] Exactly. And in fact, if you want a great example, it’s the United States report which shows the number of prosecutions which is increasing, and that’s a good thing. And what kind of services are available for victims and what kind of preventions we’re initiating and how our partnerships are growing. But we know that we have a significant human trafficking problem in the United States.

Dave [00:11:10] Even though we’re a Tier 1 country?

Sandie [00:11:11] Exactly.

Dave [00:11:13] Interesting. How is the information then used from the report, Sandie? Who are people that watch this and then how does this inform decisions or policy or research?

Sandie [00:11:26] Well, I think I think a lot of different kinds of people use these reports. First of all, it’s used in the State Department. So, the embassies and consulates in those countries help generate these reports, and consequently, they are following up on relationships in that country. Then at another level, NGOs, international NGOs are very much a part of generating the report and using the report. And then for students particularly, and you know that students are close to my heart. I know this is a great resource for doing research as a place to begin to figure out what’s happening in a country that you might be particularly interested in. It doesn’t give you the full picture, but it gives you the starting place so that you can begin to do more in-depth study and you’ll find that in one country you may find that the report shows that poverty is one of the big pull factors. And you may find that gender discrimination is another reason for higher levels of trafficking of girls or different issues like that. And then you can follow up and do more research and find out what are the ways that we can best address those issues.

Dave [00:12:45] When did this report first start?

Sandie [00:12:47] In 2000. So, there online, you can go back and research all eleven reports that are up there right now. And when the new report is released, they will release it in a pdf format that anybody can download at no charge.

Dave [00:13:04] I know, Sandie, you’ve been very savvy on reading and following up on the trends in human trafficking over those eleven years and even prior to that. What changes has the State Department seen as far as the data that’s coming in and the reporting over that last 11 years? Are there any trends that we’re seeing?

Sandie [00:13:25] I think that we’re seeing a greater response in compliance with meeting the minimum standards from an international perspective. And we are definitely sensing that there is a growing university response because educating the next generation to be able to do this. As I talked to graduate students who have just finished international affairs courses and things like that, this is a high item on their agenda. They want to address modern-day slavery from a policy level. And this report helps them to begin to see where they want to direct their efforts. And different students come to us with backgrounds in Hispanic international affairs, others with more Middle Eastern, some with African. And this helps them fine-tune the direction that they’re going to go and how to prepare themselves. I do find that students are very interested in the international business and international law aspects of this, which is really important and critical to how to take the information in this report and find ways to act on it that will have a lasting impact. And it’s interesting how even at the youngest level, you can take this report and find ways to teach on why human trafficking happens. So, you can begin to do demand reduction prevention strategies. For instance, when the Live2Free students were starting to go out into the high schools. It was a 2007 Trafficking in Persons report that gave them the information they needed to be able and the tools really to begin to speak and articulate intelligently why they were against modern-day slavery. And in that report, they reported that on the west coast of Africa, 284,000 children were slaves on cocoa plantations, just so we can have cheap chocolate. Well, that’s an outrage, especially to a child who looks at the picture of this child and says, that could be me, except I was born here. And I think it’s that kind of personal identification with why it happens and my role in it so that we can see the end come to pass. As the kids begin to talk between each other and began to understand that their choices in purchasing chocolate determined the fate for a child on another continent that was life-transforming. And it’s that kind of information that’s in this incredible report.

Dave [00:16:26] And we had talked about that on a previous episode, I believe it was episode 2 that we talked in detail about some of the issues around that and particularly with chocolate. And it’s really amazing with some very foundational information that’s readily available, we can make some choices that really do help to combat this worldwide issue.

Sandie [00:16:47] It’s also a great baseline if you’re interested in a particular aspect of human trafficking. For instance, I often get questions about sex tourism. This report identifies what that is and how we fight that internationally and how our U.S. law reaches beyond our own borders so that if you’re an American tourist going to a destination that is a sex tourist destination, your purpose is to purchase children for commercial sex. Then our laws reach across those borders and we’re able to prosecute and sentence people to prison federally.

Dave [00:17:30] I was just curious how easy this was to access as we were talking here, and I’ve gone online on the State Department Web site and you can get to this report in about two or three clicks here.

Sandie [00:17:41] Exactly. Do you want to give us the Web page?

Dave [00:17:43] Yeah. If you go to state.gov, that takes you to the U.S. State Department home page. And then there’s a button on the top of that page that says policy issues. And if you hover over that button, you will see a link to trafficking in persons toward the bottom of that dropdown and that page then the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has a link right to the report. I’m assuming this is last year’s, it looks like 2010 and you can click on that and download it directly. And there’s a link to actually every year’s report on here. And you mentioned last year was well over 300 pages, Sandie. If someone was looking at this for the first time, where would you recommend that they start?

Sandie [00:18:29] I think the beginning of the report lays a good foundation for what human trafficking is. It defines severe forms of trafficking as sex trafficking and labor trafficking. It will give you a good look at different types of trafficking. For instance, in the 2010 report, it discusses indentured labor and forced labor and the various different characters of trafficking. Modern-day slavery doesn’t look the same everywhere and domestic servitude is a prime example of that. You may walk by someone in your local grocery store that is an indentured servant in domestic slavery and never actually identify them as a victim of modern-day trafficking right here in America. But that’s a scenario that we’ve seen over and over and over again. We have one survivor advocate here in Orange County who describes her slavery as living in a golden birdcage because she lived in a beautiful home, but she was a slave. She took care of the family, the children in the house, 24/7. She was a domestic slave.

Dave [00:19:54] It’s amazing how each time we talk about these stories and particularly the stories here that are local to us, Sandie, it’s always amazing how close to home many of these issues do come very close to home.

Sandie [00:20:10] Another wonderful part of the Trafficking in Persons Report is the identification of some of the policy things that we can begin to address with relationship to human trafficking in other countries. And I’m looking, for instance, in the 2010 report, there is a page with 10 troubling governmental practices. You can spend hours just going through those practices. We expect to have in the 2011 report even more in-depth analysis of policy and how we can begin to use our international relationships to build a better safety net for at-risk victims.

Dave [00:20:52] This brings up something we mentioned a few minutes ago, was the U.S. been included in this report for the first time last year. And I’m curious, why was the U.S. not included in the previous year of the report? And is there a reason it’s now included?

Sandie [00:21:07] Well, I think the reason that it is now included is people started asking, why aren’t we evaluating ourselves? But traditionally, the State Department has been outward focused and looking globally, and so it just wasn’t on the agenda. But we’ve made a correction, and I think it’s a really strong and healthy thing to do.

Dave [00:21:26] So, this is an evolution, really, of the richness of the report to include more information that’s local in addition to what the State Department’s typically looking at, which is foreign issues.

Sandie [00:21:37] If you go through the reports over the last decade, you’ll see how they get stronger each year. I was in the GTP office, Global Trafficking in Persons Office, just last week with members of a partner university in Duhok in northern Iraq where we have a project with the Global Center for Women and Justice. And so, we met with the people who work on the report in that region, and we’re working on ways where we can use university research as a way to get stronger evidence-based data for this report.

Dave [00:22:13] And this really to me, Sandie, it just speaks so strongly to the heart of what it is that you do at Vanguard University. And that first thing we talk about, which is to study the issues and then, of course, be a voice and make a difference. But if you don’t know the issues first, it’s very difficult to be a voice and make a difference. And even if you do that, to make sure you’re doing it in an appropriate way, because as we’ve talked about before, sometimes very well-intended people make choices and get into advocacy when they don’t really understand what they’re doing and in some cases do things that might even be harmful to the efforts to end human trafficking.

Sandie [00:22:54] And it’s really important, especially from the perspective of international diplomacy. If you go to someone’s country and you say, well, there are thousands of your people being trafficked. You need to know why you believe that. And on what basis you’re making such generalizations. And it’s really important for us to have solid evidence-based practices instead of just emotional responses. And in an area like modern-day slavery, we can become very emotional and actually cause some damage in relationships. So, we need to make sure that we’re doing a really good job of studying the issues before we open our mouths and start to say things.

Dave [00:23:35] And speaking of studying the issues, we’ve mentioned on a couple of previous episodes that one of the things that the center does at Vanguard is to hold an annual conference to really help educate people in the community and in the United States and abroad about what are some of the issues, not only about human trafficking but many of the other issues that the center advocates for. I was wondering maybe in this episode if you could just spend a moment or two telling us a little bit more about what that conference is about and how that would inform people who are really looking for more information on some of these areas and specifically with trafficking.

Sandie [00:24:10] Our next conference is March 2nd and 3rd, 2012, and our theme is Women, Education, and Justice. And we feel very strongly that building the bridge to women’s equal rights is going to be made of blocks of education and empowering women faculty and also male faculty at universities. That will change the way that we look at women who may have been marginalized and were more at risk. And you read in the Trafficking in Persons Reports, some of the issues that are around women as victims of trafficking and education is constantly one of the issues in the risky valuation. So, we feel like this conference will help us move forward in using our resources and our influence, whatever we have to help build that bridge to justice for women.

Dave [00:25:12] If folks are looking for information on either registering or just finding out more information about the logistics of the conference, what’s the best way for them to get information about that?

Sandie [00:25:20] Send me an email at gcwj@vanguard.edu and go on our website. I don’t think our registration form is up yet, but we’re going to get that up real soon.

Sandie [00:25:32] Perfect. Sounds good. And I know next episode we have actually a special guest that’s going to be joining us. Could you give us a little preview of what we can expect in two weeks?

Sandie [00:25:43] Oh, you will be excited to meet Maria Suarez, who was a child victim of human trafficking right here in the United States.

Dave [00:25:52] And so watch for that next time and until next time. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and an overview of the Trafficking in Persons Report by the State Department. If you have feedback for us, remember, you can reach us at gcwj@Vanguard.edu. And until then, we’ll see you next time. Thanks, Sandie.

Sandie [00:26:18] Bye.

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