Friday, June 19, 2009

Countries respond to U.S. Trafficking Report

It didn't take long for countries about the world to begin responding to the U.S. report on human trafficking. Though I can't possibly mention every story out there, here are some of the highlights:


The Philippine government called its country's Tier 2 Watch List status "demoralizing" and said it plans to submit a letter to the U.S. government. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the letter would not be a protest but an explanation. According to Ermita, the Philippines currently has over 250 human trafficking cases pending, and intends to explain to the U.S. why the cases have not yet been settled. Justice Undersecretary Ric Blancaflor, head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking said their biggest challenge is getting victims to testify.


A story out of Tel Aviv focused on the report's assessment of Israel, which is still considered a destination country for men and women who are trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. In 2008, the Israeli government invested over $1m in an NGO that provides shelter for sex trafficking victims. Israel does not currently have shelters for victims of labor trafficking, however, and this was mentioned in the report. Director-general of the Ministry of Justice, Moshe Shilo said he was satisfied with the report and an attorney from the Hotline for Migrant Workers acknowledged "the great progress the government has made in the past three years..." while also acknowledging that they have a long way to go.


The Times of India also ran a story on that country's listing which, unfortunately, was not good. Having been placed on the Tier 2 Watch list, India now has a limited window during which to make improvements before it is automatically moved to Tier 3.


Two of the more negative responses to the U.S. report came from the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

The U.A.E. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the government is "deeply disappointed" at being put back on the Tier 2 Watch List, calling it a "subjective and inaccurate" report. According to the story, which appeared on the Maktoob Business website, the U.A.E. recently passed numerous measures intended to clamp down on human trafficking, but there are doubts as to how well those measures are being enforced. The main point of contention seems to be related to forced labor. The U.A.E sees no correlation between what it calls "labor rights violations" and human trafficking. As such, it does little to curb forced labor, as cited by the U.S. report.


The other cry of "foul" comes from the government in Malaysia, which has done more than just protest the country's Tier 3 rank, it is asking the United States for an explanation. Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the purpose of the request is to "identify the real allegations and claims" that caused Malaysia to be ranked in the bottom tier. While he says the government is willing to do whatever it can, he also warns that some border security issues are out of their control. One government deputy speaker called the U.S. report's Tier 3 ranking of Malaysia a "political ploy."

More stories are likely to emerge as countries review their rankings and the reasons for them. The good news is that countries are paying attention to this annual assessment, and most seem to be taking it seriously, seeking to address any issues outlined in the report and improve their overall strategies in the fight against human trafficking.

You can read the full Trafficking in Persons Report, including a country-by-country assessment, here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this excellent compilation. As you so rightly noted, these responses from different countries prove they do pay attention to their ranking on the TIPS list.

    I look forward to seeing your updates as more countries respond. Good work!

    Diana Scimone
    The Born 2 Fly Project
    Stopping child trafficking...
    setting kids free to soar