Trafficking in Persons Report 2009: Tier Placement

Tier Placement

The Department places each country in the 2009 TIP Report onto one of the three tier lists as mandated by the TVPA. This placement is based more on the extent of government action to combat trafficking than on the size of the problem, although that is also an important factor. The Department first evaluates whether the government fully complies with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Governments that fully comply are placed on Tier 1. For other governments, the Department considers the extent of efforts to reach compliance.

Governments that are making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards are placed on Tier 2. Governments that do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so are placed on Tier 3. Finally, the Department considers the Special Watch List criteria and, when applicable, moves Tier 2 countries to Tier 2 Watch List.

The TVPA lists three factors by which to determine whether a country should be on Tier 2 (or Tier 2 Watch List) versus Tier 3: (1) the extent to which the country is a country of origin, transit, or destination for severe forms of trafficking; (2) the extent to which the country’s government does not comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards including, in particular, the extent to which officials or government employees have been complicit in severe forms of trafficking; and (3) the government’s resources and capabilities to address and eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons.

Tier 2 Watch List

The TVPA requires that certain countries be placed on a Special Watch List. This includes countries in which:

a. The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;

b. There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes; increased assistance to victims; and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials; or

c. The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional steps over the next year.

Countries that meet one of these three criteria are placed onto what the Department of State has termed the “Tier 2 Watch List.” There were 40 countries on Tier 2 Watch List in the June 2008 report. Two additional countries were reassessed as Tier 2 Watch List countries in November 2008. The Department of State included these 42 countries in an “Interim Assessment” released on January 27, 2009.

Of these 42 countries on Tier 2 Watch List at the time of the Interim Assessment, 11 moved up to Tier 2 in this report, while four fell to Tier 3 and 27 remain on Tier 2 Watch List. Countries on Tier 2 Watch List in this report will be re-examined in the next Interim Assessment, which will be submitted to the U.S. Congress by February 1, 2010.

Amendments made by the TVPRA of 2008 provide that any country that has been ranked Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years (beginning with the 2009 Report) will be ranked Tier 3, unless the President waives application of this provision based on a determination that, among other things, the government has a written plan for meeting the TVPA’s minimum standards.

Penalties for Tier 3 Countries

Pursuant to the TVPA, governments of countries on Tier 3 may be subject to certain sanctions, whereby the U.S. Government may withhold nonhumanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance. Countries that receive no such assistance may not receive such assistance and, in addition, may not receive funding for government employees’ participation in educational and cultural exchange programs. Consistent with the TVPA, governments subject to sanctions would also face U.S. opposition to assistance (except for humanitarian, trade-related, and certain development-related assistance) from international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Imposed sanctions will take effect October 1, 2009; however, all or part of the TVPA’s sanctions can be waived if the President determines that the provision of such assistance to the government would promote the purposes of the statute or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States. The TVPA also provides that sanctions can be waived if necessary to avoid significant adverse effects on vulnerable populations, including women and children. Sanctions would not apply if the President finds that, after this report is issued but before sanctions determinations are made, a government has come into compliance with the minimum standards or is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance.

No tier ranking is permanent. Every country can do more, including the United States, which has a significant human trafficking problem. All countries must maintain and increase efforts to combat trafficking.

Source: U.S. Department of State


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