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U.S. Trafficking Report

15 June 2010 No Comment

From Amanda Kloer at Change.org

This morning, the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report was released by the State Department, marking the 10th anniversary of America’s annual human trafficking report card for the world. Only this year for the first time ever, we’re grading ourselves. (You can check out the full report here.)

The 2010 TIP Report was announced in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department, a Titanic-esque ballroom with glittering crystal chandeliers and inlaid gold covering the ceilings. But the fancy architecture was quickly obscured by the hundreds of people who packed in shoulder to shoulder to see and hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announce the 10th anniversary of the report. She even opened with a joke about the Fire Marshall, who could have easily mistook the crowd for the mosh pit at a rock concert, but with a higher concentration of pinstripes.

Secretary Clinton called the TIP Report a “fair and transparent” picture of human trafficking around the world, which it obviously strives (and often succeeds) to be. But for years, one crucial element of fairness was missing — although the U.S. saw fit to grade every other country in the world on their efforts to fight trafficking, we didn’t grade ourselves. Well, this year under the leadership of Clinton and Ambassador Lou CdeBaca, that changed, and America was added to the official class roster.

The grades, or “ranks” of the TIP Report each year are given on a tier system. Tier 1 countries are doing the minimum they need to be to fight human trafficking, and some are going above and beyond. Tier 2 countries aren’t doing as much as they should, but are working in the right direction. Tier 3 countries aren’t doing what they should and aren’t really trying. There’s also the Tier 2 Watch List, which is for countries who are working in the right direction, but are struggling in a few specific ways. Countries on Tier 3 may be subject to non-humanitarian economic sanctions.

So what grade do we Americans give ourselves on our very first test? Why, a Tier 1 ranking, of course. But before the chorus of “that’s just the U.S. patting itself on the back” gets going above a dull roar, I have to say that, overall, I think the ranking is deserved. By the standards used in the TIP Report, the U.S. really is doing a pretty decent job combating trafficking. Sure, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but we have developed good legislation, are creating better protections for victims, and have an actively engaged and effective group of NGOs. In fact, one of the biggest reasons the U.S. graded itself this year was pressure from NGOs to do so. I’ll have more detailed analysis on this year’s TIP report to come, but so far the “A” in the class is looking accurate.

In her speech at the launch, Clinton highlighted a few areas, which are arguably the ones the State Department will be focusing on. They include holding companies responsible for “reckless disregard” for slavery in their supply chains, focusing on building public-private partnerships, and giving resources and guidance to countries who want to improve their ranking. There were also all the general denouncements of slavery and congratulations for fighting it for the past ten years. But it was 2010 TIP Report Hero Laura Germino who really summed up the feeling of the room, the report, and the rankings, “We’re all of us fighting for a Tier Zero.”

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