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US Ranked on Human Trafficking Report for First Time

June 15, 2010

The United States was ranked for the first time in the 10th annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report documenting human trafficking and modern slavery, released on Monday by the Department of State. The report found that in America men, women, and children were subject to trafficking for “forced labor, debt bondage, and forced prostitution.”

The report represents a “whole decade of work the State Department has pioneered,” said Andrea Bertone, director of Human Trafficking.org, who spoke with the Epoch Times by phone. She said the report is important in her work to prevent human trafficking and each year includes greater detail about trafficking situations in countries around the world.

The report ranks 177 countries based on “the extent of government action to combat trafficking,” with Tier 1 as the highest ranking. A Tier 1 ranking indicates that a state government has recognized the problem of human trafficking, has made efforts to address the issue, and meets the TVPA’s (Torture Victim Protection Act) minimum standards. A country with a Tier 2 rating has not met the standards but has made efforts to do so, while a Tier 3 rating means the country has not met the minimum standards and has not attempted to do so. The United States received a Tier 1 rating.

Andrea Bertone said the rating for the United States is the result of continued requests by NGOs for the United States to rate itself. Bertone said she is not sure how objective the United States could be in rating itself, "Would the U.S. get anything other than a Tier 1 rating?"

Jennifer Bernal Garcia of the Center for a New American Security says including the United States in the report makes sense. Speaking by phone, she said that human trafficking is a transnational phenomenon and the “U.S. is in no way immune.”

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced the release of the report in Washington, D.C., urging governments as well as businesses that profit from human trafficking to take “shared responsibility” for these human rights violations. Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero and Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca also spoke at the press conference.

Important national and international legislation was passed 10 years ago that allowed the report to begin its annual research and assessment of human trafficking across the world. In 2000, the United States passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, establishing the tier ranking system of the report. The United Nations also adopted the Palermo Protocol that year, which provided for “the criminalization of all acts of trafficking—including forced labor, slavery, and slaverylike practices—and that governmental response should incorporate the '3P' paradigm: prevention, criminal prosecution, and victim protection,” according to the report’s website.

Secretary Clinton said that the task of ending modern slavery cannot be simply given to nongovernmental organizations. In order to bring traffickers to justice, “We can’t just blame international organized crime and rely on law enforcement to pursue them. It is everyone’s responsibility. Businesses that knowingly profit or exhibit reckless disregard about their supply chains, governments that turn a blind eye, or do not devote serious resources to addressing the problem, all of us have to speak out and act forcefully,” said Clinton at the press conference.

Ambassador CdeBaca noted that 10 years ago when the report was compiled for the first time, human trafficking was “a little-understood crime that took place in the shadows, cast a darkness over our fundamental rights whether constitutional, international norms, or personal liberties.” Ten years later, it has become a topic of great concern, and there is an even greater need to take bold steps forward, said CdeBaca.

CdeBaca addressed America’s participation in human trafficking. The 2010 report documents the United States not just as a destination or transit country for trafficking, but “we, too, are a source country for people held in servitude.”

Advocates who fought to end slavery and human trafficking in their countries were named heroes and were presented certificates. They came from such diverse countries as Brazil, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Hungary.

This year marks a year of progress against human trafficking. For example, Argentina made its first conviction under an anti-trafficking law, Clinton said. But there is still much left to do to end slavery once and for all, and Clinton said she hopes “this report galvanizes further action.”

 

Adapted from: Annie Wu and Nicholas Zifcak. "US Ranked on Human Trafficking for First Time." The Epoch Times. 14 June 2010.
 

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