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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons > Releases and Remarks > Reports
  
Released by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons


Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment

February 1, 2006

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President in December 2003, requires the Department of State to submit to the Congress an Interim Assessment of the progress made by those countries placed on the Special Watch List in September 2005 to combat trafficking in persons (TIP). The evaluation period covers the six months since the release of the June 2005 annual report.

This year, 37 countries are on the Special Watch List. These countries either (1) had moved up a tier in the 2005 TIP Report over the last year’s Report, or (2) were ranked on Tier 2 in the 2005 TIP Report, but (a) had not shown evidence of increasing efforts to address TIP, (b) were placed on Tier 2 because of commitments to carry out additional future actions over the coming year, or (c) had a large or growing number of trafficking victims. 33 of the 37 countries on the Special Watch List are in the second category -- ranked as "Tier 2 Watch List," -- including six countries initially ranked as "Tier 3" in the June 2005 TIP Report, but reassessed as Tier 2 "Watch List" countries by the State Department in September 2005 (Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Togo, U.A.E., and Sudan). Attached to this Interim Assessment is an overview of the tier process.

The Interim Assessment is intended to serve as a tool by which to gauge the anti-trafficking progress of countries which may be in danger of slipping a tier in the upcoming June 2006 TIP Report and to give them guidance on how to avoid a Tier 3 ranking. It serves as a tightly focused progress report, assessing the concrete actions a government has taken to address the key deficiencies highlighted in the June 2005 TIP Report. This is a May through November timeframe, given the time that is needed to draft and publish the June TIP Report and this Interim Assessment. Readers are requested to refer back to the annual TIP Report for an analysis of large-scale efforts and a description of the trafficking problem in each particular country.

Tier Process

The Department placed each of the countries included on the 2005 TIP Report into one of the three lists, described here as tiers, mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). This placement is based on the extent of a government's actions to combat trafficking. The Department first evaluates whether the government fully complies with the TVPRA's minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Governments that do are placed in Tier 1. For other countries, the Department considers whether their governments made significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. Governments that are making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards are placed in Tier 2. Those countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts do so are placed in Tier 3. Finally, the Special Watch List criteria are considered and, if applicable, Tier 2 countries are placed on the Tier 2 Special Watch List.

The Tiers

Tier 1: Countries whose governments fully comply with the Act's minimum standards.

Tier 2: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

Tier 2 Special Watch list: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, and:

  1. The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is increasing significantly; or
  2. There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or
  3. The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.

Tier 3: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

As required by the TVPA, in making tier determinations between Tiers 2 and 3, the Department considers the overall extent of human trafficking in the country; the extent of government noncompliance with the minimum standards, particularly the extent to which government officials have participated in, facilitated, condoned, or are otherwise complicit in trafficking; and what measures are reasonable to bring the government into compliance with the minimum standards in light of the government’s resources and capabilities.

Africa Interim Assessments

Benin

The Government of Benin has made insufficient progress in combating trafficking in persons. Benin has demonstrated increased efforts in arresting and prosecuting traffickers under trafficking-related laws, engaging in regional cooperation, and recording trafficking crime statistics. The government has shown little progress, however, in passing anti-trafficking legislation, drafting and implementing a national anti-trafficking strategy, and identifying and repatriating foreign victims.

The Ministry of Justice reported 137 trafficking related arrests and 44 convictions from January to October 2005. This is an increase over the 2004-2005 reporting period, during which Benin reported 37 trafficking- related investigations and no prosecutions. In June 2005, Benin entered into a bilateral anti-TIP agreement with Nigeria that has already resulted in the arrest and deportation of an alleged trafficker into Nigerian custody. In July, Benin signed a regional multi-lateral anti-trafficking agreement with eight countries. To better track crime data, the Ministry of Justice recently completed a report compiling child trafficking and related cases from all of the nation’s judicial departments over the last five years.

Benin’s draft anti-child trafficking legislation, however, has been stalled at the National Assembly for three years. Recently, Members of Parliament formed a caucus to lobby for the bill. The lack of such legislation inhibits effective prosecution efforts. Although the Family Ministry has issued a tender to develop a national anti-trafficking strategy, this initiative has not moved forward. Moreover, while reports indicate that Benin is a destination country, the government has not made significant efforts to identify and repatriate foreign victims.

Cameroon

The Government of Cameroon has made measurable progress in combating trafficking in persons. Cameroon has demonstrated increased efforts in passing legislation, investigating and arresting traffickers, collecting trafficking data, raising awareness, and improving victim protection. The government has not moved forward in developing a national anti-trafficking strategy or improving inter-ministerial cooperation.

In December 2005, the Parliament passed anti-child trafficking legislation. In May 2005, Cameroonian authorities cooperated with the United States and Interpol in the arrest and extradition of a Cameroonian-American child trafficker and are cooperating with U.S. authorities in the prosecution of a second suspected trafficker. With Interpol support, Cameroonian authorities have issued 12 trafficking-related arrest warrants and are investigating 39 cases. In August 2005, the government financed a trafficking education session for law enforcement officials of Cameroon and neighboring countries. The event was broadcast on all of Cameroon’s major media outlets for two days, educating the wider public about trafficking. With support from the International Labor Organization, Cameroonian police have established a database of trafficking related cases.

In August 2005, a local NGO with a board of directors chaired by a Ministry of Justice magistrate graduated 70 trafficking victims from its rehabilitation and reintegration program. Ministry and local government officials attended the graduation, which was broadcast on local and national television channels. Local NGOs report an increased willingness on the part of police to investigate trafficking cases and rescue victims but also report that police have limited funding for such cooperation.

Equatorial Guinea

The Government of Equatorial Guinea has made minimal progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2005 Report and has moved slowly in adopting its draft national action plan to combat trafficking in persons. The government has put into effect some trafficking- related laws, but it has not made progress in improving inadequate victim protection services or developing a media awareness campaign. In addition, there was evidence during the year that low-level government officials such as border guards facilitated trafficking in exchange for bribes.

The government’s trafficking technical working group, in cooperation with UNICEF, is organizing a seminar in January to educate government officials about the draft national action plan which provides implementation guidelines for the nation’s anti-trafficking law. The government issued a decree outlawing various forms of child labor, including begging. The decree fines parents and sanctions government agencies and business that subject children to labor. This decree is intended to bring the laws of Equatorial Guinea into conformity with international child labor conventions previously ratified.

Guinea

The Government of Guinea has made significant progress in combating trafficking in persons. Guinea has increased efforts to investigate and arrest suspected traffickers, conduct law enforcement training, establish regional partnerships, and collaborate with NGOs and international organizations to provide better victim protection. The government has shown less progress, however, in implementing its draft national action plan. Moreover, the country’s anti-trafficking efforts continue to be handicapped by a lack of prosecutions.

In April, Guinean authorities cooperated with Liberian and Malian counterparts in the arrest and extradition of a trafficker. Currently, Guinean police are working with Interpol and the French government to investigate a child trafficking case. Guinea entered into a bilateral anti-trafficking agreement with Mali in June and signed a multilateral agreement with eight other West African countries in July. In August, the government collaborated with an NGO to train law enforcement and customs officials about trafficking. In September, the government conducted additional law enforcement TIP trainings.

NGOs and international organizations report strong cooperation with the government in improving victim protection services. The Ministry of Education collaborates with international organizations to provide reinsertion services to thousands of at-risk children. The Ministry of Social Affairs and UNICEF collaborate to monitor families to which victims have been returned. In November, the Inter-ministerial Committee to Combat Trafficking held an educational roundtable for international organizations and NGOs. Although the government shared its latest draft of the trafficking national action plan at this meeting, the plan has yet to be implemented.

Mauritius

The Government of Mauritius demonstrated progress in combating trafficking in persons. A draft comprehensive anti-trafficking bill circulated for comment for two months; its introduction in Parliament is reportedly imminent. The Attorney General publicly stated that passage of the legislation is expected by the end of December.

Law enforcement officials took steps to locate and arrest perpetrators of child prostitution. The police conducted several raids on clubs and bungalows in Grand Baie, a tourist area where child prostitutes are rumored to be present. Despite the arrest of adult women engaged in prostitution, no children were found to be involved in commercial sexual exploitation. Through other efforts, though, at least six individual perpetrators of child prostitution were arrested and prosecuted during 2005. However, in the absence of an anti-trafficking law, they were prosecuted under lesser criminal offenses. Authorization and funding was approved to increase the manpower of the Minors Brigade, the police unit responsible for investigating cases of children engaged in prostitution across Mauritius, from five to twenty-five officers and from one to five vehicles; these changes will take effect during an upcoming public launch.

To provide greater protection for trafficking victims, a full-time social worker was placed at the government's drop-in center for children in prostitution. The social worker has begun conducting outreach in the community and in schools, as well as providing counseling to troubled youth. The government continued implementation of a national plan of action against child commercial sexual exploitation that includes outreach in schools, economic programs to assist impoverished women and children, and training for law enforcement and community leaders. It also funded local NGOs to provide education and public awareness programs on the subject of child commercial sexual exploitation. For instance, one such NGO recently launched anti-prostitution programs in schools, targeting girls who enter prostitution for extra spending money rather than out of poverty.

Niger

The Government of Niger has made some limited progress in combating trafficking in persons. Niger has demonstrated increased efforts in educating police, government officials, and the public about TIP. The government has shown less progress, however, in drafting anti-trafficking legislation and investigating and arresting traffickers under existing laws. Moreover, Niger’s anti-trafficking efforts continue to be handicapped by a lack of prosecutions.

In September, the government collaborated with an international NGO to train 17 police and border security officers about TIP. The government is working with UNICEF and a local NGO to train another 150 police in December. In August, the government conducted a public education session for civil society and law enforcement representatives about the regional multi-lateral anti-trafficking agreement it entered into with eight other nations in July. The session received widespread press coverage. In September, the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Protection of Children liaised with Nigerien and Dutch labor unions to sponsor a public awareness event on trafficking for a wide range of civil society actors, religious leaders, and traditional chiefs.

Ministry officials and legislators have agreed to work with U.S. authorities to begin drafting anti-trafficking legislation in December. The Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Protection of Children and the Ministry of Justice are working together to draft legislation to implement the regional multi-lateral anti-TIP accord Niger signed with eight other nations in July. Border police report strong enforcement of ECOWAS regulations requiring children traveling without their own parents to possess parental travel consent documents.

Rwanda

The Government of Rwanda has made some progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, although it did not provide specific information on concrete actions the government has taken to address the problem.

The National Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) broadcasted radio programs targeting Rwandan combatants still engaged in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. These programs were successful at convincing some combatants, including children, to return to Rwanda. The RDRC also operated the Ruhengeri Rehabilitation Center for Child Ex-combatants, which provided various types of care to returning children. It worked with local authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross to locate the children's families, and social workers prepared families for their children’s return through sensitization visits. Forty children currently reside at the center. The Ministries of Gender and Family Promotion and Local Government monitor the long-term well-being of these children and reported progress on this front, but they provided no data to substantiate this assertion. In May, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees reported to the government the departure and suspected recruitment of boys for use as combatants from two refugee camps in Northwest Rwanda. Senior government officials stated that this was not government policy and investigated these incidents. Since then there have been no further reports of such activities.

Child prostitution is recognized as a problem and the police regularly conducted counter-prostitution operations; the specifics of these investigations are unknown. After police dismantle prostitution rings, the government often provides women with rehabilitation programs, including worker retraining programs. The Ministry of Gender and Family Support worked with several NGOs to provide health services, housing, and vocational training to children engaged in prostitution and to child laborers. The government also identified the worst forms of child labor and worked with UNICEF to provide help to children engaged in such labor. In 2005, the police investigated 2,146 cases of rape (including all cases of sexual contact with a child under the age of 14); clarification was not provided as to which of these cases involved children in prostitution. The government provided police with training on sex crimes and crimes against children during the year.

There are seven land border crossings and one international airport operated by the Rwandan immigration service, which coordinates closely with the military, national police and intelligence services. Authorities questioned adult males attempting to leave the country via an international port of entry who were traveling with children. Those who did not possess an official document signed by the mother (or legal female custodian) were detained while the authorities attempted to contact the mother. Statistics regarding suspected trafficking-related detentions were not provided.

The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with international organizations, operated a "catch-up" program designed to educate vulnerable children (e.g., street workers, children who head households, and domestic workers) with limited educational backgrounds. Currently, there are approximately 900 children enrolled in the program.

Sierra Leone

The Government of Sierra Leone has made minimal progress in combating trafficking in persons. Sierra Leone has made advancements in law enforcement efforts and has planned upcoming events to raise awareness among police and ministry officials about trafficking. The government, however, has demonstrated a lack of will to address trafficking-related corruption. Moreover, Sierra Leone has shown no progress in supporting public awareness programs or regulating the issuance of passports to minors or the access of minors to nightclubs.

In August, the National Assembly passed anti-trafficking legislation. The High Court is also reviewing adoption legislation to regulate trafficking-related adoption fraud more effectively. Sierra Leonean police are scheduled to participate in an NGO sponsored TIP training at the end of November. The government met in November with donors and NGOs to begin planning the first inter-ministerial meeting on trafficking.

South Africa

The Government of South Africa's recent anti-trafficking efforts reflect increased awareness of the problem and commitment to combat it. The lack of specific anti-trafficking legislation and national procedures for victim protection continued to hamper law enforcement efforts. However, the government moved relevant bills through the legislative process, despite opposition of traditional leaders.

In June 2005, the National Assembly passed the Children's Bill, which specifically prohibits child trafficking. The bill is currently in Committee in the National Council of Provinces; adoption is expected during the February 2006 session. The South African Law Reform Commission's "Discussion Paper" on trafficking in persons, which includes draft comprehensive legislation, will be released for public comment in early 2006.

In the absence of specific anti-trafficking legislation, law enforcement officials continued to investigate and prosecute traffickers under existing laws. For example, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police arrested a school bus driver for supplying minor girls for prostitution. The South African Police Service (SAPS) charged him with abduction, but were unable to pursue the case after the alleged victims recanted their original statements. In May 2005, the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Directorate of Special Investigations signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to share information about trafficking crimes.

During the year, the SAPS, the NPA Directorate for Special Prosecutions, and the Department of Home Affairs enrolled staff in anti-trafficking training programs. These programs enabled some law enforcement officials to identify and question properly trafficking victims. For instance, in July 2005, a foreign delegation to a UNICEF conference was held at the airport on suspicions of child trafficking. While local law enforcement's ability to question individuals has improved, the lack of national coordination and procedures on trafficking unfortunately often still lead to deportation of victims before they are able to give evidence in court.

Government efforts to raise public awareness increased. The government engaged a local NGO to incorporate a segment on trafficking of women and children into the government's high profile annual "Violence Against Women and Children Campaign." The government-owned South Africa Broadcasting Corporation expanded on its regular news coverage of trafficking by targeting younger audiences when a youth-oriented talk show, Take 5, twice aired a program devoted to trafficking in persons.

Sudan

The Government of National Unity (GNU) has demonstrated mixed progress in combating trafficking in persons since the June 2005 Report. Over the past two years, the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC) identified 10,937 abducted men, women, and children and reunified 3,054 of these individuals with their families. The last such relocation mission occurred in May 2005. Since that time, the GNU did not provide CEAWC with the necessary funding for the transport and reunification of the remaining identified abductees with their families in Southern Sudan. As a result, thousands of people continue to remain in situations of forced labor and sexual exploitation. We are pressing the GNU to ensure that funding for this program is a priority.

The GNU, through the National Council of Child Welfare (NCCW), signed an agreement with an NGO that enabled the repatriation of 212 Sudanese child camel jockeys from Qatar. While the NCCW's efforts to repatriate children from the UAE are ongoing, procedures that would protect children and prevent re-victimization are lacking. An NCCW-NGO team conducted field visits to raise tribal awareness of the dangers of camel jockeying and follow-up with reintegrated children. The NCCW also held a public workshop on legal reforms and evaluation of the repatriation process. A government committee now screens all travel by children to the Gulf countries and a team of doctors performs medical exams to verify age in some exit visa cases.

The Sudanese Armed Forces and associated militias have reportedly continued to recruit and utilize children. However, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, a party to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, continued to cooperate with the international community to demobilize associated children, some of which had been used as soldiers. The government's demobilization commission has been stalled since July and made no discernable progress on this issue.

Widespread reports of rape in the Darfur region have continued since June; there have been few reports of investigations and prosecutions by the GNU. However, in late November, the GNU publicly acknowledged the problem of violence against women (VAW) in Darfur and released an action plan focused on its elimination; it is too early to judge the effectiveness of its implementation at the national or local level. The government also announced its rescission of the Form 8 filing requirement that once barred rape victims from receiving medical care until they had completed paperwork documenting their assault. Implementation of the action plan remains key, as subcommittees to carry out the plan are not fully funded, dissemination of the revised Form 8 requirement is not widespread, and women are hesitant to file charges out of fear of cultural retribution or government inaction. Joint African Union-Sudanese police firewood patrols have started around several camps to protect vulnerable women; this has had an immediate positive impact on the occurrence of rape in those areas. The GNU deployed 15 prosecutors to Darfur dedicated to the prosecution of rape. In late 2005, military commanders allowed a civilian court to prosecute a soldier for rape; the defendant was convicted and sentenced to six months imprisonment. The GNU’s progress combating violence against women will be covered in greater detail in the Department's annual Human Rights Report.

The Gambia

The Gambian Government has made noticeable progress in combating trafficking in persons, demonstrating increased efforts to pass anti-trafficking legislation, investigate and arrest traffickers, protect victims, and raise awareness about trafficking. Gambia’s anti-trafficking efforts are handicapped, however, by the continued lack of prosecutions.

The Gambia passed the Children’s Act in June 2005, which outlaws child trafficking, and has begun drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Police have made one arrest under the anti-child trafficking law, though the case did not lead to prosecution. In May, prior to the passage of this law, police arrested a British national under the Tourism Offences Act for trafficking 21 Senegalese youths. The case was dismissed, however, for lack of evidence. Police have begun investigating tourist areas for minors, whom they detain until the children’s parents are located. In August, Gambian law enforcement officers participated in anti-trafficking training sessions sponsored by NGOs and international organizations.

The Department of Social Welfare is constructing a shelter for trafficking victims and establishing a 24-hour trafficking hotline. The Gambia Tourism Authority has collaborated with UNICEF to print and hand out flyers about the trafficking related Tourism Offences Act to every arriving tourist. In addition, the government’s Anti-Trafficking National Taskforce has formed a working group that meets regularly to plan and implement trafficking media campaigns.

Togo

The government of Togo has made limited progress in combating trafficking in persons since the country was reassessed to the Tier 2 Watch List from the Tier 3 in September 2005. Togo has taken some measures to raise awareness among government officials and civil society representatives about the anti-child trafficking law that was passed in August. Authorities have been unable, however, to report any significant efforts to enforce the law. Police have arrested, but not prosecuted, traffickers. The government has not moved forward in drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Togo has made minimal efforts to implement the regional multi-lateral anti-trafficking agreement the country entered into in July. In addition, victim protection services took a negative turn in July when police detained victims for several days in deplorable conditions.

The government-owned press ran several articles about the new anti-child trafficking law soon after it was passed and judges have appeared on private television stations to discuss the law’s implications. In October, the government collaborated with a regional NGO to organize a discussion forum for law enforcement officials, lawyers, and social workers about the new law. In November, members of the National Assembly participated in a local NGO-sponsored information session about the law. Also in November, Togo’s Secretary of State sent framed copies of the law to all ministries and NGOs working on trafficking issues. Officials reported several trafficking arrests in November, but no prosecutions have followed.

Togolese and Beninese officials plan to meet in December to harmonize their anti-trafficking practices in order to begin implementing the anti-trafficking agreement the two countries entered into with seven other nations in July.

Zimbabwe

The Government of Zimbabwe made some limited progress in combating trafficking in persons. However, government action on other fronts, particularly Operation Restore Order, has made additional persons vulnerable to trafficking in recent months.

Between July and October 2005, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted multiple training sessions for 280 Zimbabwean police. Police officers then successfully utilized this training to identify two cases of traffickers transiting the country with victims, one in Harare and one in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo. In both cases, police alerted IOM, which assisted in the investigations.

The government does not appear to have established a database for tracking trafficking cases or provided judges and prosecutors with additional trafficking-related training. With the cooperation of the government, IOM continued to set up a center for returnees from South Africa in the border town of Beitbridge. Government-sponsored media outlets ran IOM's trafficking awareness messages and the Information Ministry began collaborating with the organization to place TIP-related story lines in future radio and television shows. In addition, the government-sponsored press continued to print or air messages warning the public about prostitution and false employment scams that can lead to trafficking.

The government placed many of its citizens at increased risk for exploitation with its urban destruction campaign code-named Operation Restore Order. The report of the U.N. Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe estimated that up to 223,000 children were impacted by Operation Restore Order, leaving these children more vulnerable to trafficking. Tens of thousands of people remain homeless in the wake of the operation, which demolished allegedly illegal homes and businesses. Many children were also forced to leave school. Local NGOs say the situation has left affected populations potentially vulnerable to trafficking in persons.

East Asia and Pacific Interim Assessments

China

The Government of China has made limited progress in addressing key deficiencies in its efforts to address trafficking in persons. Although the government has undertaken some efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking-related crime, much more needs to be done to detect and protect victims of trafficking. The government continues its efforts to investigate and prosecute internal cases of trafficking, particularly those cases involving the abduction of girls and young women trafficked as forced brides or for commercial sexual exploitation, which comprise the majority of trafficking cases in China. Chinese government officials claim that they do not fine returning trafficking victims and categorize them separately from illegal migrants. At the same time, Chinese legal experts concede that it is difficult to guarantee that all genuine trafficking victims are differentiated from illegal migrants seeking to avoid criminal penalties. Some victims of trafficking to China from Burma, Vietnam, and North Korea continue to face punishment and summary deportation to their countries of origin.

China has not implemented a national referral mechanism to provide victims of trafficking with adequate shelter and care, nor have they adopted a national action plan for TIP. Protection of victims of trafficking varies widely from province to province, with regional networks of support funded by the All China Women’s Federation, international organizations and local NGOs in operation across China; a standard national policy on assisting victims of trafficking remains absent.

The government does show signs of addressing forced labor conditions among informal and formal sector laborers, which continue to be reported throughout China. For example, working with the ILO, the government has embarked on a project to prevent forced labor practices in nine key provinces within the Pan-Pearl Delta region. Additionally, the government conducted some anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials during the past year.

Philippines

The Government of the Philippines has made modest progress in implementing strategies to combat trafficking in persons. In particular, the Philippine government made initial progress in prosecuting human traffickers. An estimated 56 cases have been developed under the 2003 anti-trafficking law and 36 cases have been filed for prosecution. Of those, one case resulted in the December 5, 2005 conviction of two individuals for trafficking offenses, with life imprisonment sentences handed down to both traffickers and compensation to the victim. Two additional cases led to convictions on November 11 and 14 under the Philippines 2003 anti-trafficking law, but the alleged traffickers pled guilty to a lesser offense under that law – an offense that does not constitute trafficking – and were sentenced to six months of community service and a fine instead of imprisonment. Since the 2005 Report, the Philippines government has prosecuted one public official under the anti-trafficking act. On June 1, a police officer was charged with trafficking women into sexual slavery at a nightclub he owned. The Philippine government closed down the club and the suspect remains in custody.

The Philippine government continued to promote training programs for law enforcement and immigration officials on trafficking issues and how to deal with victims. The Philippine Department of Justice tripled the number of prosecutors at the national level handling trafficking cases and assigned additional prosecutors at the regional level to focus on trafficking cases, resulting in a fourfold increase in the number of investigative cases presented for prosecution under the 2003 anti-trafficking law. The Philippine Secretary of Justice in April 2005 issued a directive ordering all prosecutors to give preferential attention to trafficking cases and to oppose and object to any motions for dismissal due to lack of testimony by witnesses in trafficking cases or where the defendant had made a financial settlement with the victim or other family members. The Philippine government’s witness protection program, however, still lacks the budget to accommodate the large number of trafficking victims.

In addition to stepping up efforts to implement its anti-trafficking law, the Philippine government also made modest efforts to address the issue of entertainer visas, believed to be used by traffickers to enslave thousands of Philippine women in Japan each year. Following the imposition by the Japanese government of stricter requirements for entertainer visas, the number of Japanese entertainer visas given to Filipinos has dropped by almost half in 2005 as compared to 2004. At the request of the Japanese government, the Philippine government suspended its rule requiring Japanese entertainment promoters to provide escrow deposits through the Philippine embassy in Tokyo or consulate in Osaka in order to cover any claims made by Filipino workers against Japanese promoters. The government of the Philippines has been unable to document the use of these escrow deposits to protect Philippine workers.

Europe/Eurasia Interim Assessments

Armenia

The Government of Armenia has made modest progress in its efforts to combat trafficking; a number of planned government initiatives have yet to be fully implemented. Armenian officials did begin to implement elements of the National Action Plan and increased the number of prosecutions under the anti-trafficking statute, but the government’s record on victim protection remained mixed. Regrettably, the government did not take any proactive steps to address allegations of trafficking-related governmental complicity and corruption.

Government officials appeared in various media to provide interviews and to address the dangers of trafficking; both the frequency and effectiveness of anti-trafficking programming increased. During the first 10 months of 2005, nine criminal cases were initiated under the anti-trafficking statute, with additional cases filed in November and December. The rate of law enforcement referrals to shelters appears to be on the rise; however, this number remains disproportionately low with only nine referrals in 2005. Although prosecutors’ awareness of trafficking improved, the government made limited progress in training the judicial sector. Poor treatment of a victim during a recent court proceeding further illustrated the urgent need for sensitivity training to reduce victim-blaming and stigmatization in Armenia. Allegations of possible prosecutorial and border guard complicity in trafficking remain uninvestigated by the government. Notably, a government official who has been frequently criticized by victims and NGOs for trafficking complacency, remains in his position within the Prosecutor General’s anti-trafficking task force. The accusations made against this government official are widespread.

Azerbaijan

While the Government of Azerbaijan has taken some steps to combat trafficking in persons, such as passing anti-trafficking legislation and corresponding criminal code amendments, key efforts and results in victim protection and implementation remain lacking. In October 2005, the government adopted important criminal code amendments to its anti-trafficking legislation. The government has yet to begin any concrete implementation of this law. The government has not finalized a victim screening and referral system or taken substantive steps to improve the operation of its anti-trafficking police unit.

The Government of Azerbaijan has yet to fully implement or utilize a policy and procedure guide developed for the specialized anti-trafficking unit. Further, government adoption and application of a standardized, transparent process to vet and train the unit’s members according to international standards remain uncertain. The Ministry of Internal Affairs actively cooperated in an investigation of a trafficking ring involving three Azerbaijani men who trafficked female Azerbaijani victims to the United States. Completion of final renovations to a government designated trafficking shelter that would make it suitable to accept and provide adequate assistance to trafficking victims by March 1 appears unlikely. Additionally, the location of the shelter near the facility used by the anti-trafficking unit raises confidentiality and security concerns for victims. Finally, the narrow definition of a trafficking victim in the new trafficking law raises significant concerns about the government’s awareness of the problem, fails to address the true impact on a larger population of potential trafficking victims, and may impede efforts to reduce the social stigma faced by Azerbaijani victims.

Greece

The Government of Greece has shown modest progress in combating trafficking in persons during the reporting period. Key reforms the government pledged to undertake await finalization and implementation. The government has demonstrated a strong willingness to increase its efforts; however, this willingness has yet to translate into concrete improvements in victim protection or penalties for traffickers.

On November 29, the Government of Greece completed and signed a "Memorandum of Cooperation" with 12 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This agreement formalizes cooperation between the government and NGOs to create a more effective screening and referral mechanism for the government and NGOs to identify and refer victims. In September 2005, the government forwarded the final draft of the Greece-Albania protocol on child repatriation to the Albanian government. The negotiation of the protocol has been underway for several years, but has yet to be finalized. In an effort to increase both public awareness and victim referrals, the Secretariat General for Gender Equality produced a campaign including a television advertisement to be aired later this year. In November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of IOM, inaugurated a formal diplomatic working group comprised of source, transit, and destination country diplomatic representatives focused on prevention and protection strategies. In December, the Greek government committed $600,000 in funding over a three-year period for the Transnational Action Against Child Trafficking (TACT) project in Albania in cooperation with USAID.

The government issued 22 special residence permits to trafficking victims during the first six months of 2005. Although the government continues to actively arrest and investigate traffickers (162 for the first six months of 2005), it is unclear to what extent these efforts resulted in convictions and actual jail time, or the extent of protection and assistance offered to victims found in raids. The government identified and offered protection to 79 victims of trafficking during the first six months of 2005, however only 11 victims accepted and were provided shelter. The significant gap between the estimated number of trafficking victims in Greece (in the thousands) and the number of those who are identified illustrates the urgent need for a formalized and effective screening and referral mechanism, yet to be operationalized in Greece. The government continues to co-sponsor training seminars and conferences for law enforcement officials on their role in screening and referring potential victims, but NGOs have yet to obtain a more institutionalized role in assisting potential victims discovered by law enforcement.

Russia

The Government of Russia has made limited progress in its efforts to combat trafficking. While a few steps have been taken, the Government has yet to implement several important initiatives. Specifically, deficiencies remain in victim assistance and protection and in cooperation with NGOs.

Russia demonstrated modest movement toward the passage of the draft comprehensive anti-trafficking law that will amend the criminal code, provide assistance to trafficking victims and create a national coordinating body to oversee governmental, law enforcement, and NGO assistance to trafficking victims. Passage of this legislation has been pending for two and a half years. Having recently completed the legislative hearings in each of Russia’s seven federal districts, the Legislative Committee Working Group hopes to present the draft legislation to the Duma in spring 2006. The passage and full implementation of these provisions will assist to bring Russia into conformity with victim assistance standards.

While there is currently no standardized, nation-wide victim referral mechanism in place to ensure victims are identified and referred to NGOs for assistance, it does happen informally on a localized basis. At Russia’s first referral mechanism conference in November 2005, representatives of the police, NGOs, and local government agreed to create a memorandum of understanding that will provide a comprehensive system of assistance and protection for trafficking victims. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), in cooperation with NGOs, continued to sponsor anti-trafficking training courses for Russia’s regional law enforcement academies on investigating and prosecuting TIP cases using a victim-centered approach, and best practices for cooperation with NGOs who were present throughout the training.

Russia does not have an explicit or formal legal mechanism that permits foreign trafficking victims to remain in Russia pending investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases; the MVD, however, expressed commitment to work with the Federal Border Service on a standardized, formal mechanism. Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did assist in the repatriation of some foreign trafficking victims; however, the Ministry does not formally track specific numbers of victims repatriated or deported from Russia. During the first six months of 2005, at least seven sex and labor trafficking cases were initiated. Russian law enforcement continued to cooperate with foreign counterparts in investigating trafficking cases.

Conferences and working groups are not sufficient to effectively combat trafficking in persons; Russia must take concrete actions to increase investigations and prosecutions, provide victim assistance and victim protection, and increase coordination with NGOs.

Slovak Republic

The Government of Slovakia has shown considerable political will and progress in combating trafficking in persons. The government created a National Coordinating Expert Working Group in April and appointed a national TIP coordinator in October. The Working Group convenes monthly to coordinate the government’s national response to trafficking. Despite government-wide budget constraints, the Ministry of Interior has provided the National TIP Coordinator with funding to increase its victim assistance network, acquire additional equipment and training for police, establish an improved hotline for trafficking victims, execute a media campaign to raise public awareness, and distribute informational flyers in police stations and high schools. The Working Group intends to complete the National Action Plan and submit it to Parliament; the government expects to enact the Plan by January 2006.

The government is making efforts to build stronger relationships with the NGO community by showing a sincere commitment to improve collaboration between law enforcement and NGOs; however, some improvement in communication is still needed. In November 2005, the government worked with an NGO to conduct police training on victim identification and referral.

Ukraine

The Government of Ukraine has shown modest progress in addressing trafficking in persons, but has yet to implement key anti-trafficking initiatives. The Ukrainian government has not initiated an effective special witness protection program for trafficking victims. There was not an increase in victims willing to cooperate in prosecutions. While the government initiated investigations into several cases of trafficking-related complicity and made such crimes a priority for prosecutors, prosecutions of trafficking-related corruption have yet to occur. Although the Supreme Court is currently reviewing successful and failed trafficking cases in an effort to develop guidelines for lower courts, Ukraine has yet to establish an oversight mechanism to prevent possible judicial intervention/corruption and to ensure that judges are implementing anti-trafficking legislation effectively.

The Ministry of Interior’s Department for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Illegal Migration conducts a weekly series of law enforcement training seminars in Kiev and the surrounding regions on general trafficking awareness, victim interview techniques, victim identification, and victim/witness protection. The government continued its legislative efforts to expand the legal definition of trafficking to conform to international standards, such as internal trafficking. However, passage of such legislation by the end of the year remains uncertain. The government has taken important preliminary steps to reduce the social stigma towards victims of trafficking by co-sponsoring a media event aimed at raising the general public’s awareness of the issue. High-level officials, including the First Lady, actively spoke out against trafficking.

Uzbekistan

The Government of Uzbekistan has not taken any substantive steps to address trafficking in persons within its borders, although there has been some improvement in the repatriation process of Uzbek trafficking victims returning from abroad.

Regrettably, the Government of Uzbekistan made no progress in the adoption of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; the law remains under consideration in the Presidential Administration. Furthermore, Uzbekistan still has not increased anti-trafficking penalties in the criminal code -- a much-needed reform. In the area of victim protection, the government has not provided any financial, logistical, or in-kind assistance to its sole anti-trafficking shelter. The National Action Plan also remains unapproved. Finally, although the government has worked with NGOs successfully to locate trafficking victims and streamline the repatriation process, the Uzbek government's recent closing of some key anti-trafficking NGOs represents a major setback to its overall anti-trafficking efforts. While closure of these NGOs is due to the government's larger NGO strategy and not targeted specifically at anti-trafficking activities, these moves negatively impact anti-trafficking efforts.

South Asia Interim Assessments

Bangladesh

Bangladesh has made some progress in combating trafficking in persons, although convictions have slowed. While the number of new trafficking prosecutions kept pace with 2004 trends, the overall number of convictions has dropped, leaving the conviction rate at about 50 percent. This may be the result of corruption within the judicial system and better defense attorneys. Bangladesh has charged only 12 officials with trafficking-related corruption, which represents a fraction of those believed to be involved in trafficking activities. Although 192 child camel jockeys have been repatriated from the United Arab Emirates, no charges have been filed in connection with their cases.

Overall, police anti-trafficking units continue to suffer from a lack of funding and training. Bangladesh, however, has established monitoring committees in every district to compile statistics on trafficking and to ensure that arresting officers and witnesses appear at trials. Along with these committees, the government continues to support the magistrate courts and a deputy attorney general dedicated to anti-trafficking prosecutions.

In addition, the Bangladeshi government has coordinated with an international NGO to conduct an anti-trafficking training session for Foreign Ministry junior officers on detecting and caring for Bangladeshi trafficking victims overseas. Bangladesh plans to work with international organizations to hold a similar training program for mid-level and senior officers. Significantly, the government has established small committees to oversee the reintegration of returned child camel jockeys. At the end of November, 88 boys had been reunited with their parents.

India

The Government of India has made limited progress in combating its significant problem of trafficking in persons. In 2004, India appointed the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) as the nodal agency on anti-trafficking activities. This improved communication between the relevant government agencies, including the Ministries of Human Resources and Development, Home Affairs, and Labor.

The DWCD does not have law enforcement authority, and the government has not made progress towards developing a national-level law enforcement response to interstate and international trafficking. India established a law enforcement anti-trafficking training program for state-level personnel, in part assisted by a U.S. government-funded project implemented through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which will begin in 2006. There has also been progress at the state government level. For example, in March 2005, the State of Maharashtra banned "dance bars," which often serve as fronts for prostitution and forced sexual exploitation.

India lacks a reliable method to compile data from state law enforcement agencies and judicial systems on arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. As such, the central government cannot provide current figures on the number of trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions nationally.

India has advanced efforts in late 2005 to amend Section 8 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) so that trafficking victims are protected from prosecution for prostitution. The government disseminated the "Protocol for Pre-Rescue, Rescue, and Post-Rescue Operations of Child Victims of Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation" to provide guidance to state governments, police officials, and others on assembling and conducting rescue operations.

Another area the Government of India has not yet adequately addressed is forced or bonded labor, especially in agriculture or traditional industries. The DWCD is beginning to discuss this in their quarterly meetings with the Ministries of Human Resources and Development, Home Affairs, and Labor.

Nepal

Nepal has sustained its progress on combating trafficking in persons. The Government of Nepal now operates 20 Women and Children Service Centers in 18 districts that train police on victim support techniques, provide victims with counseling services, and raise public awareness about violence against women and children. The Policy Coordination Committee of the Nepali Police proposed expansion of such centers to all 75 districts of Nepal, but these centers will not be functional until the government approves the police proposals. Even if the government approves the police proposals, some of the centers may not be functional due to the presence of Maoist insurgents in the countryside. In addition, the National Judicial Academy, an annex body of the Nepali Supreme Court, provides training to judges, government attorneys and other lawyers on trafficking in persons.

To prevent involuntary servitude among Nepali workers in other countries -- primarily Malaysia and Gulf countries -- the Nepali government has finalized a new Foreign Employment Regulation, which seeks to protect the rights of Nepali citizens traveling abroad for work. Government officials and UNIFEM visited Saudi Arabia to learn about the situation of migrant workers from Nepal. Although it lifted a ban on Nepali workers traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2003, the government did not adequately monitor labor recruiting agencies to ensure that workers going abroad attended pre-migration orientation sessions, or that labor contracts were honored after workers’ arrivals in receiving countries. Nepal opened an embassy in Malaysia earlier in 2005, which will better serve Nepali laborers there.

Despite these positive steps toward prevention and protection, Nepal has provided no data on the number of persons prosecuted or convicted for trafficking crimes. The government has registered no cases against trafficking-related corruption despite reports that this problem exists.

Near East Interim Assessments

Bahrain

Bahrain has shown moderate progress in its campaign to combat trafficking in persons. For example, the government has appointed a national advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate Bahrain’s anti-trafficking activities. Working with this coordinator, the Ministry of Justice invited international scholars to provide training for judges, lawyers, and government officials and made significant progress in drafting a new anti-trafficking law. The government intends to submit the legislation to parliament in early 2006. Bahrain is also working toward a memorandum of understanding with the International Organization of Migration that would allow the IOM to register legally in the country and to begin assisting the government with anti-trafficking issues.

In addition, the Ministry of Labor has taken steps to combat labor exploitation by hiring and training more inspectors to monitor companies that misuse workers' visas to facilitate trafficking and to investigate complaints. To address the issue of non-payment of wages, the Ministry of Labor is working with the banking sector to establish bank accounts for foreign workers so that employers can electronically transfer the workers’ paychecks. These accounts also allow the government to monitor and verify these transfers. In November, the government approved the Ministry of Social Development’s proposal for a shelter for trafficking victims. Funding has already been allocated for this project and the government has set aside land. The Ministry intends to begin temporary operations in rented space while a new building is constructed.

Furthermore, the government has opened and publicized a hotline for migrant workers to report abuse, which is staffed during Ministry of Labor working hours. The Ministry of Labor is updating an information leaflet for foreign workers and plans wide distribution of the material in early 2006, accompanied by a government publicity campaign in the media.

Regarding law enforcement and prosecution, Bahrain has not prosecuted recruitment agency personnel for misuse of foreign worker visas, although it has required these agencies to pay fines and fund the repatriation of workers. The government also has not encouraged trafficking victims to remain in the country to assist in the prosecution of their employers. Domestic workers, moreover, could remain vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking if new labor reform legislation does not offer full protection to domestic workers. Bahrain plans future legislation to cover domestics.

Qatar

The Government of Qatar has made uneven progress in improving its response to trafficking in persons. In July 2005, the government enacted a law banning the use of camel jockeys under the age of 18 and providing for punishments, including either three to ten years' imprisonment or a fine of $13,000 to $55,000. No prosecutions have yet been reported under the new law. Between June and August 2005, the Qatari government worked with Qatari and Sudanese NGOs, as well as the Qatari Embassy in Khartoum, to repatriate nearly 200 Sudanese child camel jockeys. Qatar also opened a shelter that can accommodate up to 42 male, female, and child trafficking victims and has made operational three hotlines for migrant workers in Arabic, English, and Urdu. Government press conferences and public awareness campaigns have aimed to inform the community of the existence of the shelter, hotlines, and the rights of laborers.

Despite the above measures, the government has yet to amend its labor law to provide legal protection to Qatar's large population of foreign domestic workers, a significant number of whom reportedly fall victim to involuntary servitude. Qatar has yet to institute a formal system to identify and protect trafficking victims.

United Arab Emirates

The Government of the UAE has made noticeable progress in addressing trafficking in persons in recent months. In July 2005, the government enacted a law criminalizing the use of children under 18 as camel jockeys. Between June and November 2005, the UAE reportedly convicted 17 individuals for child trafficking under this new law, and an additional 31 are under investigation. However, the government has not yet taken significant steps to tackle the country's serious problem of the trafficking of foreign women for sexual exploitation. A government committee has drafted and is circulating copies of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law addressing all forms of human trafficking that it plans to submit for approval to the Federal National Council in 2006.

In addition, the UAE Government has taken measures to improve its protection of trafficking victims. The Dubai Police Criminal Investigations Department created a Human Trafficking section to coordinate with the Human Rights Care Department to identify possible victims and to investigate their traffickers. Although the government has not yet established a shelter for trafficking victims, it houses them in hotels pending their testimony in court.

Moreover, in coordination with UNICEF, the UAE has repatriated 1,004 rescued child camel jockeys to their home countries. An additional 69 children are housed in a government-run shelter until their families are identified. According to UNICEF, this shelter will remain operational until every child has been repatriated. The police proactively have investigated camel farms, and they plan to continue these visits regularly to ensure that children are not being trafficked back into the camel racing industry.

Western Hemisphere Interim Assessments

Belize

The government of Belize has made little substantial progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons following the release of the 2005 TIP Report. In general, the government still struggles to investigate trafficking within Belize’s growing sex trade; there is generally no inspection or investigation into the trade, which has inhibited the government’s ability to properly identify or distinguish trafficking victims. Law enforcement officials do not interview and gather data during raids to determine if foreign women engaged in prostitution have been trafficked or smuggled into the country, before deporting those illegally present. Additionally, there are few social services, such as shelters, available in the country to assist victims of trafficking.

Although improvements need to be made to protect victims and prosecute traffickers, the government has made limited progress in other areas. For example, the Deputy Prime Minister has raised trafficking issues in legislation now before the legislature that would strip business and liquor licenses from those convicted of human trafficking. In addition, the government of Belize, in cooperation with UNICEF, is scheduled to undertake a mapping exercise to identify activities of trafficked and vulnerable children in Belize in the next few months. The International Labor Organization, also in cooperation with the government, currently is conducting a "Study Regarding the Problem of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Belize."

Bolivia

Although government institutional structures to deal with trafficking remain weak, the Government of Bolivia made modest progress in revising laws against commercial sexual exploitation of children, in increasing law enforcement actions against suspected traffickers in La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz, in rescuing and assisting trafficking victims, and in increasing public awareness of the nature and dangers of human trafficking.

In August, Bolivia’s government enacted legislation passed by the National Congress in July to criminalize trafficking of children. The president later issued a decree creating an inter-ministerial commission on trafficking in persons. Law enforcement and prosecutors in La Paz opened 12 new cases related to trafficking investigations. Santa Cruz law enforcement personnel investigated reports of debt bondage in the Chaco area near the Paraguay border. In La Paz, authorities opened a shelter for at-risk children, including trafficking victims, and established a local telephone assistance hotline. The government also coordinated with non-governmental organizations, the International Organization for Migration, the Inter-American Development Bank, UNICEF, and the International Labor Organization to increase public awareness through establishment of public fora for information exchange and the use of political campaigns to raise public consciousness on trafficking issues.

The Dominican Republic

The Government of the Dominican Republic has made modest progress in implementing strategies to combat trafficking in persons, including the first successful prosecution under its anti-trafficking law in May 2005. The government acknowledges a significant trafficking problem and has appointed high-level government officials to coordinate the country's anti-trafficking national strategy. However, despite high-level interest, little has been done in the actual implementation of anti-trafficking strategies. The government opens trafficking investigations and conducts occasional raids; however, the lack of witness-protection programs results in few victims willing to testify. Shelter services remain weak through out the Dominican Republic. More emphasis needs to be placed on protecting victims once they are located, including safe repatriations of Haitians along the joint border with Haiti.

High-level government officials continued to speak out strongly against trafficking and promised to step up efforts to combat the problem. The Attorney General has been the lead advocate for increased anti-trafficking efforts and this has been met with limited success. For instance, in April the National Directorate of Investigations dismantled a child prostitution and pornography ring in Sosua where police arrested two men. In April, on instructions of the Attorney General, police closed down several bars, nightclubs, and "massage parlors" in Santiago, Santo Domingo, and Boca Chica alleged to be involved in the trafficking of women and children. The government has been successful in raising awareness and training officials on trafficking-related matters. The government is working to draft and disseminate an anti-TIP manual to assist police and prosecutors with trafficking-related cases, though these efforts need to be refocused and strengthened. Finally, Dominican authorities need to put greater emphasis on identifying and assisting Haitian trafficking victims and prosecuting traffickers.

Guyana

The Government of Guyana made noticeable progress in key areas such as improving cooperation with NGOs, assisting trafficked minors, providing prevention education, and taking law enforcement action against suspected traffickers of minors for commercial sexual exploitation.

The Government of Guyana provided financial support for reconditioning and renovating an NGO-run domestic violence shelter that will extend services to trafficking victims. Officials cooperated with another local NGO and the International Organization for Migration on an exploratory assessment of human trafficking in Guyana published in June 2005. The government continued to hold outreach seminars for communities throughout the country on ways to identify and report trafficking to authorities. Over 200 persons, including police officers, attended the seminars. Law enforcement officials worked with community members to rescue four minors from trafficking-related exploitation. In October, two individuals were charged in separate cases for trafficking girls for exploitation. A Guyana court continued to try the case of a third suspect charged in April for trafficking a 16-year old girl for exploitation in Guyana’s interior.

Haiti

Political instability in Haiti has inhibited significant progress in combating trafficking since the release of the 2005 TIP Report. The overall focus on elections and the lack of a parliament continues to frustrate any concrete efforts to tackle trafficking in the country. Nonetheless, there were a few substantive efforts undertaken that are indicative of progress, including recent arrests for trafficking of Dominican women in Haiti and the participation of the government in an OAS-sponsored anti-trafficking seminar. The government also continues to cooperate with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) to strengthen civil society so that it may better prevent and protect children from being trafficked into involuntary servitude situations, a practice commonly referred to as "restavek."

Presidential and legislative elections in Haiti are expected to be completed in February 2006, and the new government will have the task of implementing strategies to combat trafficking, building on positive institutions that are already in place, including the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) and the country’s social welfare agencies, IBESR. These two agencies are key to rescuing and rehabilitating "restavek" children. The new government should build on these institutions to combat trafficking and seek out additional ways to coordinate and work with civil society to draft a national anti-trafficking plan of action and aid "restaveks." The government should also seek out ways to coordinate more effectively with the Dominican Republic to aid potential trafficking victims along the joint border.

Jamaica

The government of Jamaica has shown clear progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in the country. After Jamaica was ranked at Tier 3 in the 2005 TIP Report, the government stepped up efforts to address the problem and has committed to do more in the future. In the last year, there has been a vast increase in the public debate on trafficking resulting in a significant increase in the number of people in the country who are now aware of its dangers. High-level government officials, including the Prime Minister, have spoken out against trafficking. Additionally, the government has created an interagency task force to coordinate anti-trafficking matters and appointed police officers to handle trafficking related investigations. The newly created police unit, staffed by six officers, is evidence of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) heightened efforts to enforce Jamaica’s anti-trafficking laws.

From June to November, the JCF conducted raids at 15 nightclubs and businesses across Jamaica where credible evidence suggested that trafficking was taking place. The raids resulted in the closure of four establishments and the arrests of 39 people. Despite these efforts, victim protection remains weak and the government needs to direct resources to ensure that victims are properly protected once they are identified. Additionally, much more needs to be done in the area of proactive law enforcement, including sustaining investigations of establishments suspected of trafficking in persons.

Mexico

The Government of Mexico has made some progress in combating trafficking in persons, but much more needs to be done in the area of victim identification and protection. Senior government officials are committed to tackling the problem, but a lack of specific federal anti-trafficking laws in the country has inhibited progress. However, there is a legislative proposal pending in both houses of the Mexican Congress that would make trafficking in persons a federal crime. If consolidated in conference and passed, such a law would greatly assist Mexico’s efforts. In October, the Mexican Senate hosted an international seminar to discuss a comprehensive federal anti-trafficking law currently under committee review. Numerous senators from all three major political parties attended and each expressed strong support from their parties to pass this legislation. Several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported increased interest from the government to collaborate on anti-trafficking efforts – especially on activities involving training and public awareness. Senior government officials continue to speak out against trafficking, including President Fox, the Secretary of Foreign Relations, the Secretary of Government, the Director of Mexican Immigration (INM), as well as several state governors and attorneys general.

Since the release of the 2005 TIP Report, the government of Mexico has shown increased efforts to create a framework for the effective fight against traffickers as well as the rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of victims. It has entered into an agreement with the U.S. to work with international and local NGOs on anti-trafficking and victim assistance measures, and to accept U.S. assistance in initiating a special office under the Attorney General for prosecuting trafficking offenses. There have been a number of arrests of suspected traffickers. Nonetheless, convictions remain elusive and differentiating trafficking cases from other types of cases, such as alien smuggling, has been a challenge for the Mexican government. Mexican Immigration (INM) is beginning to implement strategies to identify potential victims by allowing NGOs limited access to detention facilities. Increased cooperation and outreach to NGOs and civil society should increase the number of victims identified and assisted. Corruption and a slow, inefficient judiciary are persistent problems in Mexico.

Nicaragua

The government of Nicaragua has made uneven progress in implementing strategies to combat trafficking in persons. In April 2005, a Nicaraguan court handed down four convictions for trafficking in persons, a major accomplishment in light of the historic ineffectiveness of its judiciary. Nicaragua’s most recent trafficking prosecution resulted in a series of acquittals for three traffickers. It is clear that overall corruption and inefficiency in Nicaragua’s judiciary have inhibited progress in trafficking-related matters. Despite these issues, the government has moved forward in other areas, including developing an action plan to reform the legal code to bring Nicaragua into compliance with international anti-trafficking standards; opening new investigations into trafficking-related matters; and cooperating with other governments in the region on anti-trafficking issues. Additionally, senior officials such as the Minister and Vice Minister of Government and the Minister of Education, spoke regularly to the press about trafficking and government actions to combat the problem.

Although the government has made some progress, much more needs to be done to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts. The government has started to implement strategies to address anti-trafficking deficiencies, including delivering a comprehensive package of proposed trafficking-related legal reforms to the National Assembly for enactment, and both government and NGOs have engaged in lobbying campaigns with the National Assembly and the public. However, more attention should be given to the protection of victims in the country, including seeking out ways to direct limited spare resources to shelters and victim care facilities.

Suriname

The Government of Suriname demonstrated modest anti-trafficking progress by punishing trafficking-related corruption and investigating suspected trafficking and illegal migration. Although police officials compiled some statistics on deportations to help identify illegal migration patterns, no notable progress was reported in government efforts to screen illegal aliens to identify any trafficking victims.

A senior official was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for trafficking Guyanese female victims for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Law enforcement personnel initiated at least three trafficking investigations related to commercial sexual exploitation and one related the use of Chinese nationals for forced agricultural labor. Law enforcement cooperated with French Guiana authorities on a pending case of smuggled Haitian nationals, some of whom may have been exploited for forced labor. Officers named to a Special TIP unit received training and operational guidelines for handling trafficking investigations. Lack of adequate investigative tools coupled with language barriers between potential victims from Asia and Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries and Suriname officials reportedly contributed to limited progress in identifying foreign victims.

The government provided two "train-the-trainer" workshops on detecting and investigation trafficking to police and immigration officers and targeted officers both in the capital and from other parts of the country. Senior government officials such as the Minister of Justice and Police, the Attorney General, the President, and the Foreign Minister included remarks regarding the government’s commitment to fighting trafficking in various public statements. The government also cooperated with authorities in the Netherlands regarding a child trafficking case and worked with some foreign diplomatic and consular missions in Suriname to improve anti-trafficking information and put provisions in place for safe repatriation of foreign trafficking victims.


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