U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons > Releases and Remarks > Remarks > 2004

On-The-Record Briefing: On the Rollout of the 2004 Trafficking in Persons Annual Report

John Miller, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Released by the Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 14, 2004

(2:10 p.m. EDT)

DIRECTOR MILLER: Thank you. First, I want to thank Secretary Powell and President Bush and all the NGOs and citizens in the United States and around the world that have helped to make trafficking in persons a priority for the United States.

I want to thank all of you for coming here on this important issue. You've heard from Secretary Powell how human trafficking is synonymous with slavery. Human trafficking relies on coercion and exploitation. It thrives on converting hope to fear. It's maintained through violence. The trade in people is a major source of revenue, in the billions, for organized crime, along with the drug trade and the arms trade. What we have here is a denial of human rights, a threat to public health, and a threat to security and stability. Let there be no misunderstanding. Modern slavery plagues every country in the world, including the United States. The United States is committed to taking action in cooperation with other governments against this source -- against this scourge.

This is the purpose of the fourth annual report on what governments abroad are doing on slavery. The report includes every country where we can establish a significant number of victims, in the neighborhood of 100 or more. There are over 140 countries reported on, many added this year. This does not mean that countries that are not mentioned do not have a slavery problem. It just means we do not have the information on such countries to establish 100 victims.

The sources for the report are varied: our embassies, foreign governments, courageous NGO workers and volunteers, news media accounts and our own visits. This has been followed by extensive analysis and debate leading to assignment of tiers. Congress defined this system and has refined this system with help from faith-based, feminist and other nongovernmental organizations. And this year, another tier has been added.

Along with Tier 1, countries that have a significant number of victims, but are meeting the minimum standards; along with Tier 2, countries that are not meeting the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts; and along with Tier 3, countries or governments that are not making significant efforts, this year we have the category added by Congress of Tier 2 Watch Lists: weak Tier 2 countries that are in danger, the coming year, of falling to Tier 3.

Let me make clear that while Tier 3, under the law, brings with it the possibility of losses of certain kinds of U.S. aid, the purpose of this report is not sanctions, it is to get progress. And as the law provides, last year, many countries that were named in Tier 3, over the succeeding three months before the Presidential decision on sanctions, made tremendous progress. And we hope that all countries, particularly those on Tier 3, in the next three months, will make similar progress.

There are some new features. There's some new information and data in this year's report. Information on slavery is very inexact, but we believe that the majority of slave victims, in the neighborhood of 80 percent, are of the female gender, and that around 50 percent are children.

We believe that the largest category of slavery is sex slavery. This is not to minimize other large categories: domestic servitude slavery, forced labor in farms and factories slavery, child soldier slavery. The large number of children is why President Bush, at his United Nations General Assembly speech last fall, emphasized cooperation in the fight against child sex tourism, which creates a demand for child sex slaves.

21st century slavery is a story of evil, but it's also a story of hope -- hope for all who seek to abolish slavery. While there is so much more to do, governments are increasingly taking steps to help victims and jail the traffickers. For example, 24 countries this past year have new, comprehensive anti-trafficking laws. There have been almost 8,000 prosecutions of traffickers worldwide and almost 3,000 convictions. Major organized crime figures in trafficking in persons from the United Kingdom to Macedonia have been sent to jail.

There are other signs of hope. We have, as we did last year, a "best practices" section, which lists the practices, many of them low or no cost, that have been taken by governments to stop slavery. For example: Panama requiring travel agencies and hotels to warn customers of new, tough sex tourism laws; Indonesia using its embassies abroad -- and I visited two in Malaysia and Singapore -- using embassies abroad to help shelter their victims in foreign countries; Madrid, Spain, with a new, comprehensive law enforcement effort, not just directed at trafficking, but directed at the demand side of trafficking, looking at the customers when it comes to sex trafficking.

We have this year also a new section on heroes, which the Secretary referred to. We have six heroes listed. They are representative of thousands of heroes in the world who are fighting slavery, thousands who are showing courage and determination. The three that are here today have flown thousands of miles. I visited Pierre Tami's shelter in Cambodia, Hagar, a shelter that has given hope to hundreds and hundreds of victims, not only counseled them, educated them, but placed former victims in viable businesses. Pierre is an example of what a businessman can do, and he's been doing it for the last decade.

Ambassador Francisco Sierra, Colombia's Ambassador to several Far Eastern countries, including Japan, has not only devoted himself but his embassy staff, as I can tell from a visit, to caring for victims, primarily the victims that come through devious routes from Colombia, through France, through Mexico, to Japan. He has worked with the Colombian Government and with the Japanese Government to encourage action to help victims and fight the traffickers. Ambassador Sierra is an example of what a diplomat can do.

And Chief Hadjor, who you have heard about, who comes from the Lake Volta region of Ghana, where he has worked to save 228 children from slavery in the fishing industry, helping these children to reunite with their families.

For your bravery and dedication, we salute all of you. And we hope that your governments will support your efforts.

Behind me, there are some pictures, pictures of victims, and the pictures are here because we must remember in the end that this issue is not about reports, it's not about figures, it is about human beings. And in this report, you will find many stories of victims included so that along with the figures and narratives in the beginning sections, you'll see these victims' stories to understand their individual travails.

I've met with many of the human beings that are described, who are trying to retain their dignity. If you met with them, you -- as have Under Secretary Dobriansky, Secretary Powell, President Bush and myself, and members of my staff -- would become abolitionists, too. Thank you for coming because, when you cover this issue, you are playing a key role, you are raising public awareness, you are helping prevent future victims, and you are giving present victims hope.

And now I'd be happy to take some questions. Okay.

QUESTION: Mr. Miller, a question on the new newly created category in Tier 2. In the description of this in the report, it says that a category can be -- a country can be included in this -- including if the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.

Does that mean you can get out of 3 and into 2 Watch List simply by saying we will do some things next year, without having actually done anything?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, no, I wouldn't say that. But that is a key factor, where there are promises of action and we have hope that the promises will be met in the next several months. There are other things that are considered, of course, such as the size of the problem, the amount of efforts, the degree of difference from the minimum standards, as well.

Yes.

QUESTION: What was Japan's status last year, and what kind of direction of travel are they going, better or worse?

DIRECTOR MILLER: Japan was Tier 2 last year. And in this year's report, Japan is Tier 2 Watch List. Japan does not comply with the minimum standards. We believe that there has been a tremendous gap in Japan that has a huge problem with slavery -- particularly sex slavery -- a tremendous gap between the size of the problem and the resources and efforts devoted to addressing the problem.

That being said, in the last month or two, the Government of Japan, at the direction of the Prime Minister, has started to take an enormous number of steps that we hope will lead to more prosecutions, more investigations, more convictions, more pursuit of organized crime figures and more help for victims. The Prime Minister has just formed a new ministerial task force that will be chaired by one of the secretaries, and they are already at work with the parliament on a new comprehensive anti-trafficking law.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up on that?

DIRECTOR MILLER: Yes.

QUESTION: The deadline of the sanctions that would kick in, kind of a follow-up question. You spoke of a few months before sanctions might kick in for lack of compliance. Could you explain in that specific case --

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Okay, that does not apply to Tier 2 Watch List.

QUESTION: Thank you.

DIRECTOR  MILLER: That only applies to Tier 3. But since you asked the question, Tier 2 Watch List, since these countries have problems, if they're on Tier 2 Watch List, we expect -- working with those countries, because the purpose here is to cooperate to get progress -- but we expect, working with those countries, to have an interim assessment the beginning of next year. It won't be a re-ranking -- there won't be another ranking till a year from now -- but we hope to have an assessment so all of us can see what's going on.

Yes.

QUESTION: The Middle East seems to enjoy a very small percentage of the funding of the U.S. programs, one or two percent only, last year and this year. Is that -- what is the reason behind that? Is it because their societies -- you see their societies as more successful in protecting your -- this kind of trade, or is the problem more compounding in different parts of the world?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, actually, I would not say that the Near or Middle East has less of a problem than anywhere else. I would not make that judgment. As I look at the list here, I see three countries that have received assistance through our office on prosecution, protection and prevention in the Near or Middle East.

I think one of the reasons there may be less -- there may be less assistance is that some of the Middle Eastern countries are quite -- are relatively well off, and in apportioning resources, some of our work is through embassies and engagement with officials and work through NGOs, and some of it is financial assistance, but, obviously, some countries are more in need of financial assistance than others.

Yes. Sure.

QUESTION: In reference to Mexico, could you please characterize where do they stand as to the efforts -- as far as the efforts to stop the traffic of illegal workers into the United States? We see the results in the area of the border, like in Arizona, in Phoenix, recently. And also, would you say that Mexico has fallen, or, you know, did they go worse this year or not?

And also, a second question is: How do you respond to those human rights activists who have claimed that many of these governments don't do much because these people, especially the illegal immigrants, later become people who send remittances into their countries which are an important line for their economies?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, I'll try to deal with a few of your questions. Mexico was on Tier 2 last year. This year it's on Tier 2 Watch List. There is a serious problem in Mexico, which I think the Mexican Government appreciates. Thousands of child prostitutes in Mexico, which meet the international definition of slavery, uneven law enforcement, uneven protection work, helping victims, uneven prevention, education work.

And, nonetheless, there is -- there are signs at the top level of the Mexican Government of greater action, a new memorandum of understanding with Guatemala. And I'm looking forward to greater cooperation between the United States and Mexico on this issue because, as you've alluded to, this problem, this challenge, affects not only its southern neighbor, Guatemala, but its northern neighbor, the United States.

I do want to comment, though, on your reference to smuggling. Yes, there is an overlap. Yes, many trafficking victims are smuggled. But they are not one and the same thing. Trafficking victims can enter this country perfectly legally. In my own home city of Seattle, there was a major case involving trafficking victims where the defendants -- where the victims had come in legally.

And as you look around the world, many victims, whether it's Japan or the Netherlands, have entered countries legally: tourist visas, so-called entertainer visas. Similarly, somebody who was smuggled may well be a trafficking victim, but this is not always the case. Some people that are smuggled, not only are smuggled voluntarily, but at the end of the line find themselves free to engage in work. So, again, they might not meet the definition of slave victims who have had their -- who are doing work without pay or under threats, coercion, have lost their freedom to change jobs.

So there is an overlap, but one of the challenges around the world is how to distinguish between a smuggling victim and a trafficking victim. If one finds an illegal migrant, we encourage countries to question the person to find out whether that person may be a trafficking victim to help in prosecution.

Yes.

QUESTION: Continuing with Mexico, a couple of things, following up on what you were saying about overlapping between smuggling and trafficking.

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Yeah.

QUESTION: So, in the case of Mexico, there is -- in relation to United States, there is more smuggling activity, so to speak. So which -- what would you say that is the main area of concern in Mexico? Is it in smuggling people or in trafficking of persons?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Okay.

QUESTION: And, second, there was the Brazilian congress recently announced an investigation into smuggling networks, or people-trafficking networks, from Brazil to the United States through Mexico. And I wanted to ask you if you were aware of that and how will the United States plan on cooperating with that?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, we will certainly cooperate with any international endeavor. One of my staff, Phil Lindeman, who has been one of our outstanding analysts, is leaving to join the OAS to fill the position of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Coordinator, to try to emphasize and reemphasize international cooperation, such as you have referred to.

I can't give you a precise answer to your first question because victims don't stand up to be counted. So I don't know whether more trafficking victims came in legally or through smuggling from Mexico. It could well be more came via the smuggling route. But I have no -- I have no precise figures.

I want to take somebody who hasn't had a question.

QUESTION: Could we follow up?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Yes, hold on.

QUESTION: Yes, sir. With regard to Burma --

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- what steps would you like to see the government taking to better address the problems it's having with trafficking?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, I think with Burma, the main concern is government operations, sometimes through their military, of slave labor camps, the factories. Burma has made some progress in the area of sex slavery. But one of our criteria, when you're looking at Tier 3, gets to government complicity. And this is something that we hope with regards to forced labor will end with Burma, and we look forward to working with Burma on this.

Okay. Let me take somebody in the back.

Yes.

QUESTION: I have a question about the China statistics. How did you get those numbers and figures? Did you get help from the NGO inside China, or you send teams to work -- to do some field trip in China, or you just rely on the official report from the Chinese Government?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, I think it's all of the above and more. We get information from our Embassy. We get information from foreign governments. We get information from NGOs. So it's all of those sources and more.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sir, Secretary Powell, in his remarks, made a reference to the trafficking being -- impacting global -- a global security threat, and he said, "and very likely terrorist violence," if I've got the words correctly. Do you have any documentation, any evidence, to back up the assertion on affecting terrorist violence?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: I have no specific documentation that I can give you, other than that we know there is a tremendous link between trafficking in persons and organized crime. This is largely an organized criminal activity. It would not surprise me at all if there are links between trafficking and terrorism, but I have no specific evidence that I would put forth at this time. We continue to look, we continue to explore the links with organized crime and beyond, and we will be doing more research on that in the coming year.

Yes.

QUESTION: I have a question. Much of this trafficking comes through maritime, from, I guess, all possibilities, the two largest shipping crate type companies either with Liberian and/or Panamanian registry. Have we been able to work with some of these maritime-type shipping companies or is the problem with smaller vessels going from small hamlets to -- from one country to another? Is it -- in other words, is it a major headache or a minor headache in this instance?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Okay. I really cannot give you a specific answer on that. I can give you impressions, but we have no hard data on trafficking victims by sea, by air, by ground. I suspect that, for example, you're looking, like, at a region like Europe where there's tremendous traffic from Eastern Europe to Western Europe. I would suspect very little of that is maritime. I would suspect that's car, train, plane, but I have not seen a breakdown around the world.

My trip to East Asia/Pacific and South Asia, again, my impression is, most of the victims are coming over land, but again, I haven't seen a breakdown.

Somebody I haven't -- yes. Yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) about Georgia. Last year, the country was in Tier 3 and in Annual Report 2004 Tier 2 Watch List. Is it mean that country had no progress and what is the main problem in Georgia? Thank you, sir.

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, I think Georgia has progressed and I think that's why they're not in Tier 3. Georgia is one of those countries that definitely stepped up their prosecutions, arrests, convictions of traffickers. Georgia is a country that started getting into prevention education, broadcasting of public service announcements. Georgia is a country where officials spoke out. But there is much, much more to do. And so they have progressed up from Tier 3, but I wouldn't say there aren't a lot of things to be done.

And I -- yeah, I don't think you, you've had a -- go ahead.

QUESTION: Ambassador Miller, you've talked about the purpose of the report is not to promote sanctions, but progress. I'm curious, what about the progress of the increased convictions that you've had? You've mentioned worldwide 8,000 prosecutions and 3,000 convictions. What kind of progress or effect is that having on trafficking?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, one of the things that we've tried to do this year is get more information on investigations, arrests, prosecutions and sentences. And we started doing that last year at the time of this report, and then our effort was further strengthened because Congress, when they passed the reauthorization bill in December, specifically put in a provision saying the burden shall be on the country's government to come up with this kind of information.

So that is why we have far more information this year on prosecutions, convictions, arrests -- not enough, but far more. We think, from the countries that we have -- we had this information from last year, there has been an increase in arrests, convictions, prosecutions. Next year, we will have an even better idea of trend lines in this.

Yes, in the back there. Okay.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Ambassador, you mentioned the figure of 120 million in 2004 that was spent on anti-trafficking efforts. Can you say how much the Department's asking for in the FY05 budget?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Actually, the Department is asking for an increase of -- I believe it was 10 million last year and this coming year, it's in different pots, but we hope to have 17 million. But that's just one source. USAID also has funds available for this, Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Health and Human Services. We're cooperating abroad in grant programs. So what the Department spends is not the total figure on trafficking in persons, so that's how the 70 million figure comes up.

Yes.

QUESTION: Please tell us about your other neighbor. Why was Canada reclassified from Tier 2 to Tier 1? And can you elaborate on why we should reassess visa requirements for South Koreans, for example?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Why we should what?

QUESTION: Reassess visa requirements for South Koreans?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Okay. Oh, you're talking in terms of Canada.

QUESTION: Yeah.

DIRECTOR MILLER: Oh, okay. I --

QUESTION: And why was the country reclassified?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Sure, sure. Well, Canada moved up from Tier 2 to Tier 1 because Canada complies with the minimum standards under the law. They made impressive gains in prosecuting traffickers, officials speaking out, devoting more resources to border control. There's a new Royal Canadian Mounted Police Anti-Trafficking in Person Task Force that has been created. So those were some of the reasons why Canada was moved up.

Now, in terms of your talking about South Koreans, one of the suggestions in the report is looking at visa requirements for certain nationals. South Korea is cited as an example because there's been some evidence of trafficking of South Korean citizens through Canada into the United States. And we will be working with the Government of Canada on this, but we're very pleased, very pleased, with the progress that Canada has made.

I hope -- I'm now starting to forget who -- have you been called on? Go ahead. (Laughter.) Okay.

QUESTION: In Africa, has there been a correlation between the increasing AIDS and HIV rates affecting children in cross-generational relationships as well as child prostitution in trafficking?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Well, we believe this is the case. I don't have hard data to show you. But we know that prostitution fuels the demand for trafficking victims. Of that, there is no doubt. And we know that trafficking victims, our experience has been, that trafficking victims frequently fall victim to HIV/AIDS. I have met with trafficking victims around the world that are victims of HIV/AIDS.

So there is a link; there's no question about that. And one of our challenges, I think, is to not only better document the link, because when you have trafficking victims going from country to country, you have the potential of spreading HIV/AIDS viruses; but one of our challenges, I think, is for -- just as all our agencies in the United States Government are now working together under the President's direction to come up with a coordinated policy against trafficking in persons, I think we need, in the coming year, to coordinate our policies on trafficking in persons with our policies on fighting AIDS abroad.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) one second?

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Yeah, go ahead.

MR. CASEY: We have time for one more.

DIRECTOR  MILLER: Okay. Go ahead. You haven't -- yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Ambassador. I'm still confused about the case of Japan. You said Japan made a kind of some, you know, effort to solve the problem, setting up a task force and a kind of a new rule or whatever. Why they -- could you tell us, could you give us, you know, kind of a concrete evidence, why this country was downgraded to a Tier Watch List 2?

DIRECTOR MILLER: Well, I thought I had -- let me take another crack at that. I visited Japan personally. If you look at the victim protection effort, when the victims number in the thousands, I found only two small shelters in Japan willing to take trafficking victims. I visited them both. They each have eight to ten beds. I looked at the -- we looked at the prosecutions, the arrests and convictions. In comparison to the source of the -- the size of the problem, it did not appear that there was a great effort. The sentences appeared to be relatively light, which is something that our law looks at.

In terms of prevention education, we did not see much of that. We did see -- I mean, Japan has been a leader abroad. Japan has donated sums to other East Asian/Pacific countries. And in the last month or two, we are just delighted because Japan appears to be gearing up for a major effort against trafficking in persons. And Japan, the leading -- one of the leading and wealthiest democracies in the world, and certainly in Asia -- if Japan takes the lead and takes the steps that they have indicated that they will take, this will be a big step forward.

I guess we're out of time. I just want to say, if people have additional questions, because I know there's, like, 15 or 20 more, please -- and I've got a meeting to go to with some embassies and other people, but please feel free to call our office. Caroline is standing in the back and she's got cards, and you can call and we'll try to get back to you with specific information.

And I just want to say again, the purpose here is to draw attention to the issue and to encourage creative cooperative action. And thank you for taking the time to involve yourself in this issue. Really appreciate it.

2004/673


Released on June 14, 2004

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.