The United States’ 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report was released Thursday, June 30th with the latest rankings of governments’ efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.The report sorts countries into four tiers: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum U.S. standards; Tier 2 for those that are making significant efforts to do so; Tier 2 “Watch List” for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to fully comply with the minimum U.S. standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
Over two dozen countries were demoted to the lowest ranking of Tier 3 in the TIP report this year. Among those were Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Sudan and Haiti which sit at the very bottom as the world’s worst offenders of human trafficking. These results received praise from human rights groups following negative feedback claiming last year’s report was politicized. Additionally, Turkmenistan, Djibouti, Papua New Guinea and Suriname we’re downgraded to the lowest tier as well.
Thailand was surprisingly removed from the bottom tier of the TIP report despite the prevalent forced labor problem within the country’s seafood industry. The Philippines, however, was moved to the top tier, amongst countries like the United States, although they are known for their thriving sex industry. Many human rights groups disagree with this decision, but specifically supported the demotion of Myanmar and Uzbekistan. Both countries are important partners to the United States and many feel those decisions may restore credibility to the annual report.
Unlike last year, this year’s critics are far more supportive of the TIP report. “’On the whole, this year’s trafficking report accurately reflects and critiques the record of countries around the world in addressing human trafficking and forced labor, unlike the report issued last year, which was marred by strong indications of political interference,’ said Sarah Margon, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.” Despite the improvement, Thailand’s upgrade is still troublesome even with the improvements to legal reforms and increased prosecutions surrounding human trafficking cases in the country.
The report also downgraded Hong Kong from “Tier 2” to “Tier 2 Watchlist.” The Chinese territory strongly refused the decision. “We cannot accept that Hong Kong is a destination, transit and source territory for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor,” the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said in a statement. Regardless of their disapproval, their position still remains on the Tier 2 Watchlist.
Secretary of State John Kerry said ranking decisions were not influenced by politics or other factors. “There are some tough calls. In the end they come down to an element of discretion, but not much,” he said. The report also highlighted the Syrian refugee crisis and reiterated that almost all sides in the civil war there, including government forces, as well as U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters, were recruiting child soldiers. Ultimately, despite some inaccuracies, the annual TIP reports undeniably shows the widespread and serious problem of human trafficking around the world and the dire need to end it.
Source: The New York Times