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Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment  
Released by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
January 19, 2007

Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment

2006 Trafficking in Persons Report

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 in combating trafficking in persons (TIP) by those countries placed on the Special Watch List in September 2006. The evaluation period covers the six months since the release of the June 2006 annual report.

This year, 39 countries are on the Special Watch List. These countries either (1) had moved up a tier in the 2006 TIP Report over the last year's Report, or (2) were ranked on Tier 2 in the 2006 TIP Report, but (a) had failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat TIP from the previous year, (b) were placed on Tier 2 because of commitments to carry out additional future actions over the coming year, or (c) had a significant or significantly increasing number of trafficking victims. Thirty-four of the 39 countries on the Special Watch List are in the second category--ranked as Tier 2 Watch List--including two countries initially ranked as Tier 3 in the June 2006 TIP Report, but reassessed as Tier 2 Watch List countries by the State Department in September 2006 (Belize and Laos). Attached to this Interim Assessment is an overview of the tier process.

In most cases, 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 2007 TIP Report and to give them guidance on how to avoid a Tier 3 ranking. It is a tightly focused progress report, assessing the concrete actions a government has taken to address the key deficiencies highlighted in the June 2006 TIP Report. The Interim Assessment covers actions undertaken between the beginning of May--the cutoff for data covered in the June TIP Report--and November. 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 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report into one of the three lists, described here as tiers, mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as amended (TVPA). This placement reflects an evaluation 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. Countries whose governments do so are placed in Tier 1. For other countries, the Department considers whether their governments made significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. Countries whose governments 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 to 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:

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

b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or

c) 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 reasonable measures the government would have to take to come into compliance with the minimum standards within the government's resources and capabilities.

AFRICA

Central African Republic

The Government of the Central African Republic (CAR) has begun to make modest progress toward combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The government has drafted anti-trafficking legislation, established liaisons with NGOs with the capacity to care for trafficking victims, and developed plans to increase public awareness of trafficking and establish a government focal point to address the problem.

The government plans to submit to the National Assembly in early December 2006 draft legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking in persons. Also related to law enforcement efforts, the government entered into a multilateral regional accord against trafficking in July 2006 and a bilateral agreement with Cameroon to combat transnational crime, including trafficking in persons, in August 2006.

Awareness of trafficking in persons problems among government officials and the public is minimal and there are no NGOs that provide services specifically to trafficking victims. However, the government has provided training to some NGOs providing care to street children and other children in distress, many or some of whom are likely trafficking victims. Some of these organizations are also part of an NGO network coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The Ministries of Social Affairs and Justice have pledged to take steps to increase public awareness of trafficking by early 2007. These two ministries plan on establishing a national inter-ministerial committee to combat TIP by the end of February 2007. The CAR also has developed a plan of action to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse, including child sex trafficking.

Djibouti

The Government of Djibouti took initial but inadequate steps to begin combating human trafficking after the release of the 2006 Report. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Djibouti's designated focal point on human trafficking, appointed the Director of its Legal Department to be responsible for coordinating the Djiboutian government's anti-trafficking response. The Police Vice Squad reportedly continued to close bars where child prostitution may have been occurring; specifics regarding these closures or resulting prosecutions are not known. The Ministry of Communications requested U.S. assistance in acquiring appropriate articles or other awareness raising materials on human trafficking to publish in local newspapers.

Equatorial Guinea

The Government of Equatorial Guinea made some modest progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. Although the government investigated and resolved at least nine trafficking cases, educated law enforcement officials, and referred foreign victims to diplomatic officials, it once again failed to arrest, prosecute, or convict traffickers under its 2004 law or under other TIP-related criminal statutes.

The government conducted at least 6 anti-trafficking sensitization workshops for police, prosecutors, and judges and immigration officials. In addition, Equatorial Guinea (EG) initiated meetings with the international community to request technical assistance to develop a trafficking training program for Equato-Guinean law enforcement officials. In July 2006, EG also adopted the regional West and Central African Multilateral Agreement and Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The government referred foreign child trafficking victims it discovered to diplomatic missions of the victim's country in at least nine instances over the last six months. Beyond these referrals, the government did not provide direct care to trafficking victims or coordinate with NGOs or international organizations to provide such care.

The government collaborated with UNICEF, Cameroon, and Gabon to conduct an assessment of transnational trafficking. The government also launched an information campaign about trafficking by placing UNICEF-financed posters in the streets of Malabo about the national action plan against trafficking in persons.

Kenya

The Government of Kenya made some progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report, but more needs to be done. A lack of awareness of human trafficking issues among law enforcement officials continued to undermine the ability of police to properly identify and track trafficking cases. In August 2006, two police officers in Trans-Nzoia were suspended from duty for allegedly helping a suspected member of a child trafficking syndicate escape from custody. However, the officers subsequently were reinstated to active duty pending disciplinary action from Police Headquarters, which has yet to be meted out. The suspect subsequently was re-arrested trying to transport an allegedly abducted Kenyan child to Uganda.

Police reportedly also investigated trafficking cases in the coastal and Rift Valley regions; no further information regarding resulting arrests or prosecutions was made available. The Kenya Police Service was unable to report a single concrete action taken by the Human Trafficking Unit in the past year. However, in June 2006, the Tourism Minister personally led police and other government officials on a raid of a Mombasa resort hotel suspected of hosting children in prostitution; two young girls were removed from the premises. In November 2006, the Mombasa District Commissioner provided participants at a trafficking awareness seminar with a telephone hotline number to use to report suspected cases of trafficking.

A draft comprehensive anti-trafficking bill was presented by NGOs to the Attorney General's Office in May 2006. It is anticipated that the bill will be submitted during the next session of Parliament, which is expected to begin in March 2007. The Vice President presided over the December 19 launch of a research report on child sex tourism and commercial sexual exploitation of children on the coast conducted by Children's Affairs and a UNICEF-selected international expert. The launch may encourage smaller hotels and other tourism sector firms to join hotels in other parts of the coast that have already signed on to implement the industry code to prevent child sex tourism. The launch also should serve to increase awareness of the problem of human trafficking on the coast. In response to the study's findings, steps to address human trafficking were incorporated into the Ministry's annual work plan.

In early December, relevant government ministries, including the Office of the President, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Education, Labor, Gender and Youth, the Attorney General, Culture and Tourism, and Immigration, took up the issue of TIP and agreed that Home Affairs would lead a TIP policy steering committee and a task force to draft a National TIP Action Plan. As a result of the increased availability of training opportunities, the Kenyan media, especially the government-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, noticeably improved the quantity and quality of its coverage of suspected human trafficking cases, contributing to greater awareness of the problem of human trafficking throughout the country.

Malawi

Since achieving Tier 1 status in the 2006 Report, the Government of Malawi has continued to make progress in combating human trafficking. The government prosecuted and convicted 10 traffickers since April 2006 using relevant labor and kidnapping laws; the majority of these cases involved trafficking of children for agricultural labor and cattle herding. In October, a Malawian court sentenced a Mozambican national to six years imprisonment after he pled guilty to attempting to sell two youths to businessmen. Other traffickers were required to pay fines; however, some who claimed ignorance of the law were merely warned and released. In August 2006, the Malawi Police Service conducted a two-day child protection orientation for district police commanders and a two-week training of trainers for 16 child protection officers from the police community.

The Ministry of Labor continued to inspect and monitor labor practices on both tobacco and tea estates, as well as in other sectors. It conducted six sensitization workshops for tobacco and tea estate owners on Malawi's labor code, emphasizing child labor prohibitions. Forty additional labor inspectors were hired, and 18 more are currently being recruited. In August, the ministry conducted a workshop for district labor officers to educate them on the roles of the judiciary, NGOs, police, and labor officers in addressing child trafficking.

A recently opened government-operated drop-in center in Lilongwe is providing approximately 50 victims of trafficking and sexual violence with counseling, medical care, legal assistance, shelter, food, and vocational training. Additional centers planned for the southern and northern regions of the country have not opened due to supply shortages.

Mauritania

The Government of Mauritania has made insufficient progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The government has failed to arrest, prosecute, or convict trafficking offenders or individuals subjecting others to traditional slavery or related practices. Mauritania also neglected to provide care to two child domestic servants who were part of a high-profile criminal investigation in 2005. However, the government has taken limited steps to protect children from prostitution and harmful labor practices, and it has provided anti-poverty programs to former female slaves and domestic workers.

Although Mauritania has never enforced its anti-slavery or anti-trafficking laws, the government is in the process of establishing a Children's Police Brigade to enforce a January 2006 ordinance against child prostitution and harmful child labor practices. In June, August, and September 2006, the government trained law enforcement officials in three cities to enforce the ordinance.

With financing from the African Development Bank, the government provided six months of literacy training to 5,000 women in a program targeting former female slaves, many of whom are likely domestic workers. In collaboration with a private bank and UNICEF, the government continued to conduct micro-credit programs for domestic workers and former female slaves. Although the government continues to operate care centers for "talibe" boys, reports indicate that the centers operate below capacity despite apparent need.

In September 2006, the government organized a workshop for civil society and law enforcement officials on combating trafficking. The government also produced an anti-trafficking action plan in October 2006.

South Africa

The Government of South Africa made some progress in addressing anti-trafficking concerns since the release of the 2006 Report. In June 2006, President Mbeki signed the Children's Act, which specifically criminalizes child trafficking. The Department of Social Development is expected to release the necessary implementing regulations for the law to be enforced in early 2007. The government's growing anti-trafficking commitment was constrained in some cases by the requirements of its own processes, particularly in the area of enacting new laws. To elicit further feedback on its draft comprehensive anti-trafficking bill, the South African Law Reform Commission conducted six workshops throughout the country for investigators, prosecutors, and civic organizations; the bill is slated for submission to the Minister of Justice in mid-2007. In November, the Sexual Offenses Bill, which would prohibit the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation, was sent from the parliamentary committee to Parliament for consideration.

In November, the trial of the "Ranch Club" sex trafficking case resumed after months of attempts by the alleged trafficker to have the charges dismissed. Despite anecdotal information in the press, data on judicial proceedings against additional suspected traffickers remained unavailable. In August 2006, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) sponsored a two-day seminar on prosecuting human trafficking cases in the South African context for provincial prosecutors and chief prosecutors from other African countries. This seminar resulted in agreement to a number of short-term actions, including the subsequent formation of a new NPA Rapid TIP Response Team, which has focused its initial efforts on identifying priority cases in the country for prosecution. Thirty-one members of the South African Police Service's Organized Crime Unit in Gauteng Province received training from International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the role of organized criminal groups in the trafficking of women and children. IOM subsequently received requests from the Scorpions, the Department of Home Affairs, and the Cape Town and Johannesburg airport authorities to receive this training.

In October, police officers from South Africa, Mozambique, and Swaziland met to discuss cross-border trafficking, including trafficking in persons, and agreed that more must be done in this area. According to an August 2006 press release from the Department of Labor, the Governments of South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed in January to issue legal work permits for cross-border agricultural laborers, believing that the regularization of transient agricultural workers between the two countries will minimize the use of children for such activities.

Government efforts to raise public awareness remained sporadic while civil society and private sector efforts increased. In August, the Women's Parliament conducted a two-day meeting focusing on human trafficking. The Department of Labor funded a national radio campaign on child labor that ran during the annual "16 days of activism against violence to women and children" campaign.

Togo

The Government of Togo has made insufficient progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. Overall law enforcement efforts remained weak, though the government took some increased steps to provide care to trafficking victims.

The government reported that Togolese police arrested some traffickers over the last six months; however, officials have not provided data on the number of such arrests. Moreover, the government has not commenced legal proceedings against 16 traffickers arrested in 2005. Togo's draft Child Code of Laws, with strengthened provisions against child trafficking, remains at the National Assembly with no fixed date for a vote. Although the government has not provided officials with training about trafficking, Togolese police and gendarme have participated in training offered by international organizations and NGOs.

Police worked with Ministry of Social Welfare representatives in providing care to trafficking victims identified at Lome's airport and at Togo's borders. In addition, representatives of the National Committee for the Rehabilitation and Social Reinsertion of Trafficking Victims in each of Togo's prefectures continued to work with local civil society leaders in educating communities about trafficking and in caring for victims. Government officials assisted International Labor Organization (ILO) representatives in establishing a network of over 300 local rural anti-trafficking committees.

EUROPE

Armenia

The Government of Armenia made some progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report; however, key deficiencies in the government's anti-trafficking response have yet to be addressed. In July 2006 the government enacted a statute to clarify its trafficking law and strengthen the accompanying penalties, and NGO-run shelters assisted more trafficking victims during the last six months. The government, however, neither developed nor implemented a national referral policy. It also did not aggressively sentence traffickers under its trafficking statute and it failed to investigate vigorously ongoing allegations of corruption and prosecute officials for complicity in trafficking.

The Government of Armenia took some steps to increase awareness on victim identification by assisting in the publication of an IOM manual for Armenian consular officers stationed abroad, and it worked with a local NGO to publish a manual for its health and social workers. While the number of victims assisted by NGO shelters in Armenia almost doubled over the previous year, the rate of law enforcement referrals to these shelters remains low; out of 23 victims assisted since March 1, 2006, about one-third were referred by the government. In July 2006, the government enacted a new statute to ensure that traffickers in Armenia are convicted under trafficking statutes rather than less serious pimping statutes, which carry lower penalties. Since March 2006, the government investigated 14 trafficking cases, resulting in six convictions. All six traffickers received sentences between four and five years; the government utilized its old trafficking statute, which carries penalties lighter than those in the new trafficking statute, under a grandfathering clause because the crimes occurred before enactment of the new statute. Although the government has yet to prosecute any acts of trafficking-related complicity, in December 2006 it restructured its anti-trafficking unit in response to ongoing allegations of high-level corruption.

Cyprus

The Government of Cyprus has shown some progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report, but efforts in key areas remain inadequate. It has yet to implement critical anti-trafficking reforms it pledged to undertake in May 2005. Although the government recently demonstrated a strong willingness to increase its efforts, this has yet to translate into significant, concrete improvements in victim protection, adequate punishment for traffickers, and raising public awareness about trafficking in Cyprus.

The Government of Cyprus increased prosecutions and convictions under anti-trafficking statutes. Police statistics show that 40 cases were being prosecuted as of mid-December 2006, with an additional 17 cases being investigated for possible prosecution. Of the 40 prosecutions, three resulted in acquittals, two resulted in suspended sentences, and four concluded in convictions with prison sentences ranging from four to nine months. Thirty-one are still being tried. Additionally, Cypriot police have assisted 12 Interpol and 10 Europol international trafficking investigations.

The government has yet to enact the new anti-trafficking law, promised for some time, though a draft bill has been forwarded to the Attorney General for final review. This draft bill does not abolish "artiste"-specific classifications for granting visas into Cyprus. Moreover, the government has yet to open a long-promised anti-trafficking shelter, though the Council of Ministers has approved the use of a specific building and the hiring of staff.

To raise internal awareness about trafficking, Cypriot police, in November 2006, conducted two seminars to educate law enforcement officers. Also, the police prepared anti-trafficking fliers aimed at tackling local demand, which will be distributed during community policing activities. The 2007 police budget specifically includes funding for this printing. The government has not yet developed or conducted a large-scale demand reduction campaign, promised since May 2005.

The Council of Ministers approved but has yet to finalize and implement an internal government handbook to help identify victims and direct the actions of ministries and services in dealing with trafficking cases.

Finland

The Government of Finland continued to make progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The government successfully prosecuted its first case under Finland's new anti-trafficking statute. It also increased efforts to identify and combat labor trafficking, provided temporary residency to all identified suspected trafficking victims, demonstrated considerable regional leadership in connection with Finland's EU Presidency, and passed a law criminalizing the intentional purchase of sexual services from trafficking victims.

The Finnish government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts showed progress as the government successfully prosecuted one case involving eight Finnish and Estonian sex traffickers under the 2005 anti-trafficking statute. Each trafficker was sentenced to a prison term of 27 months to five years -- penalties substantially higher than those prescribed under laws used to prosecute sex trafficking crimes before 2005. Finnish authorities also increased efforts to target labor trafficking during the reporting period. A report commissioned by the Labor Ministry and released in May 2006 determined that labor trafficking was present in the construction, restaurant, and hospitality industries. In September and October, authorities arrested suspects in several cases involving the use of forced labor in various Asian restaurants. Additional investigations are underway.

The government sustained its efforts to assist foreign trafficking victims and, by early 2006, the previous practice of deporting possible trafficking victims was suspended. Currently, all persons identified as suspected victims are allowed to remain in the country for up to one year on a temporary residency permit. Victims may apply for subsequent extensions.

Finland assumed the EU Presidency on July 1 and has made combating trafficking in persons a high priority for the EU. During Finland's EU Presidency, it hosted in October 2006 a conference on child victim identification and interview issues, bringing together more than 100 working-level law enforcement, social worker, and NGO personnel throughout the EU.

In June, Parliament passed legislation that criminalizes the purchase of all sexual services from trafficking victims. The government views this as a positive step toward demand reduction.

Russia

The Government of Russia made some progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The federal government publicly announced it will provide some funding to three anti-trafficking NGOs beginning in early 2007 and regional and local governments provided in kind and financial support to some anti-trafficking NGOs; however, it appears the majority of aid to NGOs providing victim assistance, public awareness efforts, and government training was provided by international donors. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors participated in victim referral and anti-trafficking training, and cooperation between local government officials and NGOs appeared to improve. The Primorskiy Krai government in August began discussing the creation of two much-needed trafficking shelters in Vladivostok, although substantive measures to allocate funding and establish the shelters have not yet been taken. Russian law enforcement continues to investigate and prosecute human trafficking and demonstrated progress on collecting trafficking investigation statistics. Comprehensive data on prosecutions, convictions, and efforts to prosecute trafficking-related complicity and official corruption were not available.

The Russian government demonstrated mixed progress in its efforts to provide victim assistance. It reached agreements with NGOs governing cooperation with law enforcement to address human trafficking victim assistance in two cities; formal agreements between police and NGOs concerning victim assistance and protection now exist in four cities. While the majority of NGOs do not yet receive funding from the government, several local and regional governments did provide some financial and in-kind support to anti-trafficking NGOs for rehabilitation and outreach services. The governor of the Primorskiy Krai region funded and sponsored an international anti-trafficking conference in August 2006. The government reports that it has now fully implemented and funded a witness protection program, although some local authorities report they have not yet received financial assistance for witness protection from the national government. While Russia's witness protection program was used to protect and assist some trafficking victims, the vast majority of trafficking victims have not yet been assisted by the program.

Switzerland

Since its upgrade to Tier One in the 2006 Report, the Government of Switzerland has made some progress in combating trafficking in persons. Key victim assistance legislation was approved and now awaits enactment and some progress was made to collect nationwide anti-trafficking data. Data for 2006 on the number of convicted traffickers serving time in prison was unavailable at the time this assessment was published. Efforts to enact a domestic demand-reduction public awareness campaign were limited.

On September 24, the new Federal Law on Foreigners was approved in a national referendum vote and will be fully implemented by January 1, 2008. The new law improves the process of granting potential trafficking victims a stay of deportation and provides for residency status or the assisted return of victims and witnesses to their countries of origin.

In 2005, seventy-three percent of convicted traffickers received suspended sentences and thus served no time in prison. Data for 2006 on the number of convicted traffickers who received suspended sentences and those who served time in prison was not yet available; thus it is unknown whether there has been any improvement in the adequacy of Swiss punishment for trafficking crimes.

Domestic prevention efforts remained limited and the government has yet to conduct a widespread domestic public awareness or demand-reduction campaign. There has been increased discussion at both the national and local level about potential awareness campaigns during the 2008 European Soccer Cup. Although government plans for a 2008 Euro Cup awareness campaign have not yet been formalized, a government funded NGO has begun its preparations. The government financially supported a comic strip project of the Council of Europe to raise awareness among students. The government also published an anti-trafficking teaching manual. The comic strip and manual are available on the Council of Europe website.

The new Federal Law on Foreigners will require the Federal Office of Migration to record at the national level the number of temporary residency permits granted to trafficking victims. In April 2006, the National Conference of Cantonal Justice Ministers appointed a project team with a mandate to gather and harmonize national law enforcement statistics, including statistics on human trafficking by 2010.

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

Cambodia

The Government of Cambodia made significant progress in combating trafficking in persons problem since the release of the 2006 Report. The National Police reported that as of September 2006, 58 traffickers and pimps had been turned over to the judiciary for prosecution. At least 34 convictions were handed down, with sentences ranging from 3 to 24 years. A comprehensive draft anti-trafficking bill was found to be incompatible with the draft penal code in late 2006 and is being modified. Police statistics indicate that as of October 2006, 32 establishments offering trafficking victims for sale have been closed.

Cambodia has modestly increased efforts to combat trafficking-related corruption, although punishment of offenders with appropriate prison sentences remains uneven. In August 2006, three police officers of the Ministry of Interior's Anti-Trafficking in Persons Department were convicted of trafficking-related corruption. However, only one of the three was imprisoned, one officer remains at large, and the other remains in his position. The National Police reported three additional arrests of low-ranking military officers for trafficking-related crimes during 2006.

China

The Government of China increased efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. Since June, China's law enforcement bodies undertook numerous actions throughout the country that resulted in the reported rescue of at least 234 trafficked women and children, the arrest of five suspected traffickers, and the conviction of six traffickers.

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) reports that trafficking victims returning from abroad are not punished or fined, but acknowledges that border officials are not able to systematically identify trafficking victims from among Chinese citizens who travel abroad illegally. The All China Women's Federation (ACWF), a government-affiliated organization, has on occasion successfully coordinated with Chinese immigration authorities to cancel the "illegal immigration" fines of up to $250 and 15-day detentions imposed on Chinese victims returning from abroad, but can only do so on an ad hoc basis. The ACWF continued a program launched in 2005 to train border officials to identify signs of trafficking; additional training will take place in early 2007.

In September, the government signed an agreement with the International Organization for Migration to set up an office in Beijing to work on migration issues, including labor and other trafficking. Chinese authorities, including border police, the Public Security Bureau's (PSB) Entry/Exit Division, and the Labor Bureau, received training on trafficking issues affecting areas along China's borders with Vietnam and Burma.

The ACWF and several NGOs provide hotline and legal services to victims throughout the country. Additional shelters dedicated to victims of trafficking have been opened since June 2006: in December, the ACWF, in partnership with local and provincial government authorities and the ILO, opened a shelter for trafficked women and children in Mingguang City, the first such shelter in Anhui Province. In November, authorities in Zhejiang, Jiangsu Province opened a shelter for victims of labor trafficking. The project, coordinated with the ILO, not only provides a shelter, but offers education, training, and legal and employment assistance. In Wuxi, another region of Jiangsu, the United Nations provided assistance in the October/November opening of a "Home for Migrant Women," a shelter that provides anti-trafficking training, as well as opportunities for women to learn about local labor law and take classes to improve work skills. In Guangxi, the ACWF worked with UNICEF to improve services provided in a shelter for Chinese and foreign victims of trafficking that opened in February.

China's anti-trafficking laws do not yet fully conform with international standards. The current definition of trafficking is limited to the abducting, kidnapping, buying, fetching, sending, or transferring of a woman or child for the purpose of selling that victim, and does not cover the broad range of forms, methods, and purposes of trafficking found in the definition of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Protocol). While trafficking of children under the age of 18 is a crime, penalties for trafficking children between the ages of 14 and 18 are not as severe as for trafficking children under the age of 14. Moreover, Chinese law does not automatically consider anyone under 18 years old involved in commercial sexual exploitation to be a victim of trafficking, despite international standards that establish this definition. Victims of labor trafficking also remain unprotected by China's current definition of trafficking, although many victims do have recourse under other legislation, such as the Labor Law and various provisions of the Criminal Code.

To address continuing deficiencies, China has prepared an anti-trafficking National Plan of Action. The Plan will be rolled out as part of China's commitment to the Greater Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking, which China will host next spring. The government, through its state-controlled media, gave wide coverage to training sessions in Beijing, Nanning, and Kunming that were designed to highlight trafficking issues and encourage print and broadcast journalists to cover stories from a victims' perspective. Other public outreach programs include a campaign by the Sichuan PSB targeting major labor markets, with informational posters, public service announcements on large television screens in the markets, and the distribution of pamphlets explaining legal protections, resource information, and hotline numbers.

Indonesia

The Government of Indonesia has made modest progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The National Police trafficking unit reported that as of October 2006, 90 suspects in 24 cases were under investigation for trafficking crimes involving 437 victims; this is an increase from the 82 suspects in 12 cases investigated for trafficking crimes involving 143 victims in all of 2005. Police submitted 23 trafficking cases for prosecution through October 2006. The Attorney General's Office is currently prosecuting 24 cases. As of November 2006 there were 18 convictions handed down by courts in 2006, with an average sentence of 4 years imprisonment.

The Ministry of Manpower has done little to enforce existing labor laws that would protect workers against internal and external trafficking, allowing some employment agencies to traffic workers for debt bondage. There is a lack of awareness about the trafficking problems associated with Indonesian girls and women who migrate abroad and are subjected to domestic servitude or Indonesian children employed as domestic workers within Indonesia. An agreement signed between the Indonesian and Malaysian governments in May 2006 governing the employment of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia contains provisions inconsistent with international anti-trafficking standards, such as lack of protection of the right of a migrant worker to keep custody of his or her passport.

Indonesia increased efforts to combat trafficking-related corruption. In September 2006 the Anti-Corruption Court sentenced a former Indonesian consul general in Malaysia to 20 months in jail for charging illegal fees to process immigration documents. A local government official was arrested by police and remains in custody for issuing false documents used by traffickers. A number of investigations of suspected complicit senior officials were started since May 2006, but precise data is not available.

Laos

The Government of Laos made modest progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The Lao Women's Union (LWU), with the assistance of UNICEF, disseminated information on the law throughout the country among citizens and government officials. The Lao Women's Union in mid-2006 conducted trafficking-related training for governors, vice governors, prosecutors, police commanders, presidents, and vice presidents of provincial courts across the country. In addition, the LWU held separate seminars for police officers on trafficking legislation and victim protection in several provinces. The government in July 2006 provided immigration officers with training intended to end the practice of fining, taxing, or otherwise confiscating money from returning migrants and trafficking victims.

The Lao Anti-People's Trafficking Unit arrested a woman in August 2006 and charged her with trafficking, and in late October authorities arrested a group of three people that were subsequently charged with human trafficking. Laos did not provide any information regarding efforts to combat trafficking-related corruption through increased criminal investigations or prosecution of officials involved in trafficking.

Macau

The authorities in Macau showed slight progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The authorities have yet to recognize the serious problem of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation found within the territory's substantial international sex trade; this is reflected in a lack of significant steps taken to prosecute trafficking crimes and to find and protect victims of trafficking. However, the government recently reported ten cases of trafficking in persons, involving 17 women brought to Macau under false pretenses and four cases of abuse of prostitutes during the first half of 2006.

Macau authorities have not yet recognized, nor taken steps to draft legislation to address certain important gaps in the territory's laws related to trafficking. The Macau government, however, has recognized deficiencies in the laws relating to the welfare of women and children and is now reviewing applicable laws and covenants with an aim toward revising them in a coherent way. Moreover, there were no reports of authorities using laws that criminalize activities related to trafficking to prosecute traffickers and their accomplices, despite press, NGO, and foreign government reports of organized crime and human trafficking in Macau.

Macau continued to lack any significant protections for victims of trafficking. There remains no shelter or counseling resources dedicated to trafficking victims and local authorities made no discernable moves to address this deficiency. Macau law enforcement officials, despite some training on trafficking in persons, did not show any significant efforts to identify victims of trafficking among the foreign women in prostitution arrested for immigration violations or other violations.

Efforts to raise public awareness of the threat of trafficking in persons were absent, and the authorities of the Macau Special Administrative Region did not initiate any policy discussions that would lead to a policy and action plan for dealing with trafficking in the territory.

Malaysia

The Government of Malaysia has made minimal progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. A commitment made in 2004 to open a shelter for trafficking victims remains unfulfilled. The government has yet to produce a clear policy or structure for dealing with trafficking; it has not acted on a draft anti-trafficking plan of action developed late in 2004 by Malaysia's Human Rights Commission with USG-funded technical assistance. Individual ministries within the government appear committed to taking steps to address trafficking but they lack the direction or political leadership necessary for a coordinated and effective approach.

The Malaysian government announced in December that it is drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill with plans to submit the bill to parliament in March 2007. There have been few efforts to use Malaysia's existing laws to prosecute trafficking in persons crimes. Police and immigration officials at the working level showed recognition of the trafficking problem and a desire to address it, yet they remained stymied by a lack of high-level Malaysian government political commitment and concomitant devotion of resources towards the problem.

The Malaysian government undertook no significant steps to improve the treatment of foreign trafficking victims in Malaysia. Most of these victims continued to be treated as violators of immigration laws and were incarcerated in jails or immigration detention centers pending removal. Others were allowed to seek refuge in a shelter run by their home government's embassy or consulate in Malaysia while they awaited deportation. The government continued to round up migrant workers who had run away from their Malaysian employers and deported them as violators of Malaysian immigration law without screening them to identify and provide care for victims of trafficking. A commitment by Malaysian government officials to support a shelter with services for trafficking victims remained unfulfilled.

Singapore

Since its upgrade to Tier One in the 2006 Report, the Government of Singapore has made further progress in combating trafficking in persons.

The Ministry of Manpower instituted a number of new measures aimed at addressing working conditions and abuses of foreign domestic workers. In September 2006, employment agencies' accreditation bodies introduced a new standard contract for employers of foreign domestics that guarantees at least one day off per month or additional pay. In October 2006, the Ministry ordered that foreign domestics may demand direct deposit of their salaries into their bank accounts. Also in October, the Ministry started a newsletter that is mailed directly to foreign domestic workers. The newsletter, provided in several languages, includes information on their rights and responsibilities, as well as on the importance of workplace safety. The government continued to prosecute abusive employers of foreign domestics. In October 2006, an employer was sentenced to 9 months in prison for scalding her maid and beating her.

The Government of Singapore continued to work with NGOs and foreign embassies to ensure that victims of sexual exploitation are provided shelter, counseling, health care, and physical security. Responding to the recent news and public outcry over Vietnamese brides being brought to Singapore to find husbands, an inter-agency working group on marriage brokers set up in early 2006 continues to consult with broker agencies, but has yet to issue recommendations to improve the way they conduct business and prevent potential trafficking.

The Ministry of Manpower launched a new program of randomly interviewing foreign domestic workers to evaluate their working conditions, including possible forced labor or involuntary servitude, and to reinforce knowledge of their rights, responsibilities, and safety. The Singapore government, however, has yet to implement a systematic screening of at-risk populations such as migrant workers and foreign women in prostitution in order to identify and care for victims of trafficking.

Taiwan

Taiwan authorities have made modest progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In November, Taiwan authorities issued an Action Plan that opens a dialogue with civil society and created a multi-agency task force to be headed by a specially appointed cabinet-level minister. The Taiwan authorities reported an increased number of cases submitted for prosecution in 2006 that are related to trafficking in persons, though it is not known how many involve actual trafficking crimes. Prosecutions and convictions through October 2006 for child sexual abuse, including trafficking offenses, decreased to 98 from 150 during the same timeframe in 2005, but conviction rates increased by twelve percent. Taiwan authorities, however, failed to prosecute any offenses of trafficking for forced labor or domestic servitude despite evidence of a significant trafficking problem among the 350,000 Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Filipino workers in Taiwan.

Taiwan authorities did not make progress in developing a system to identify and protect foreign workers who have been subjected to conditions of forced labor or involuntary servitude. A few NGOs are the only source of protection and legal aid for foreign victims of trafficking who have fled from abusive Taiwan employers. Taiwan labor brokers reportedly continued to deport involuntarily foreign workers who complained about abusive conditions, preventing any opportunity for the worker to press criminal charges of forced labor. Nevertheless, the Council for Labor Affairs made significant improvements in its policies and regulations governing the terms and conditions of work for foreign laborers in Taiwan, including bilateral agreements reached with Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, to allow foreign domestic workers to apply directly to the Taiwan Council for Labor Affairs for work, rather than going through Taiwan labor brokerage agencies that are known for exploitative practices. To encourage foreign workers to cooperate with time-consuming trafficking investigations and prosecutions, Taiwan authorities ceased the practice of deducting the time required to complete a trafficking case from the authorized work period in Taiwan. Punishment for employers who exploit foreign laborers and use forced labor, however, remain administrative (fines), and thus inadequate to deter additional trafficking crimes.

To prevent trafficking of Southeast Asian women through fraudulent marriages -- which has become a significant problem in Taiwan -- the Ministry of Interior banned the registration of new international marriage firms based in Taiwan and strengthened regulations and monitoring of existing firms. Steps taken by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to tighten the screening of Southeast Asian women applying for visas as "brides" of Taiwan men has led to a marked decrease in the number of spousal visas issued.

NEAR EAST

Algeria

The Government of Algeria has not reported progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The government did not develop or implement a national plan of action to combat trafficking in persons. It continues to treat trafficking victims as illegal migrants. The government operates three centers for illegal migrants and victims of trafficking, but does not have a formal mechanism to identify trafficking victims systematically and refer them to protective services. As such, trafficking victims risk detention and deportation.

Algerian law includes anti-trafficking in persons punishments of fines ranging between $414-$1,414 or prison sentences of 2 to 6 months. Media and NGO reports indicate that investigations and arrests have occurred, but the government has not provided information about them. The Gendermarie Nationale established an institute of criminology in early 2006 to improve coordination of law enforcement activities against trafficking in persons.

The Government of Algeria has not instituted a public awareness campaign highlighting the rights and obligations of expatriate workers, and the consequences of abusing such workers. The government has not reported any steps to combat trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation to or through Algeria.

Bahrain

The Government of Bahrain made uneven progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In November, the government opened a shelter capable of accommodating 60-80 trafficking victims, and offering medical, psychological, and legal care. Victims have access to library and recreational facilities, as well as skills training while they await repatriation. Victims can only enter the shelter by police referral, and for reasons of security, they are only permitted to leave the premises for official business purposes. The shelter receives only female victims of trafficking.

Bahrain has yet to pass or enact comprehensive anti-trafficking draft legislation that was written in March 2006, but the newly elected parliament is expected to take it up in the new legislative session. Bahrain reports using other statutes to prosecute trafficking crimes, but it is unclear how many of these cases actually involve trafficking. Current legislation is inadequate to prosecute trafficking crimes, particularly those committed against domestic workers and laborers in the construction industry who face conditions of involuntary servitude.

The Government of Bahrain has not formalized victim identification procedures to distinguish trafficking victims from prostitutes and illegal migrants. Currently, victims of trafficking are arrested for prostitution or for violating immigration laws and are jailed or detained until prosecuted or deported, without being offered victim protection services. Victims are still expected to identify themselves as victims of trafficking to the police before receiving entry to the new government-sponsored shelter, but they are often discouraged from doing so for fear of arrest and/or deportation.

Egypt

The Government of Egypt has made minimal progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In October, Egypt took steps to form an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate the government's anti-trafficking operations, but the committee has not yet been formally established.

Since the release of the June 2006 Report, the Government of Egypt has not provided evidence of new criminal investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenses under existing statutes. Egypt similarly failed to improve its system of formal identification of trafficking victims. Border officials interdict foreigners who are illegally traveling to Israel and turn them over to their embassies for repatriation rather than jailing them, but the government still has not given any indication that it interviews them for evidence of trafficking, thereby undermining potential victims' ability to participate in criminal investigations or trials against their traffickers. The Government of Egypt also has not assessed the level of trafficking of children for household and agricultural work, nor has it instituted a public awareness campaign to educate employers on the consequences of participating in trafficking of children for this purpose.

Israel

The Government of Israel made noticeable progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In October, the government amended its existing anti-trafficking statute that criminalizes trafficking in persons. The amendment expanded the previous definition of trafficking that had been limited to trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation to include forced labor and slavery, among other offenses. Penalties under this law include imprisonment of up to 16 years for most trafficking offenses, which can be increased to 20 years in jail if the crime was committed against a minor. Notably, the amendment also permits the government to confiscate traffickers' assets to fund a victim compensation program.

The Government of Israel did not report any prosecutions for trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation under existing laws, including bans on related activities such as withholding workers' passports and charging recruitment fees, practices local NGOs report are common. The government, however, continued its prosecution of cases of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation; since June 2006, it reportedly brought 27 new trafficking cases to court.

Expanding on previous legal aid services provided to victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, the Government of Israel launched a two-year pilot program to offer legal aid to all victims of trafficking. Under this program, victims of labor trafficking have access to legal resources and victims in general do not have to meet economic criteria to receive this assistance. In addition, courts are now authorized to hear cases in closed courtrooms to prevent publication of details identifying the victims, thereby protecting them from retribution from their traffickers and ensuring their privacy.

In May 2006, the Government officially appointed a national coordinator from the Ministry of Justice to manage Israel's anti-trafficking strategy and inter-ministerial cooperation.

Kuwait

The Government of Kuwait has made limited progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. Although the government ratified the UN Protocol on combating TIP last year, giving the protocol the force of law in Kuwait, it still has not passed a national law providing implementation guidelines for the Protocol's provisions. Therefore, it is not clear what penalties traffickers would receive if prosecuted in Kuwaiti courts using the Protocol. Though there is high-level interest in combating TIP, the Government does not have a national plan of action to combat trafficking in persons. Although the government provided some statistics for prosecutions and convictions of offenses related to trafficking, it is unclear how many, if any, involve trafficking.

There have been increased local media reports of women forced into commercial sexual exploitation. The Government asserts that it screens those arrested for prostitution to identify victims who have been coerced into the commercial sex trade, but it has provided no evidence of a systematic victim identification procedure in place in police stations or detention centers where arrested prostitutes are detained. Similarly, Kuwait lacks a system to identify trafficking victims among foreign workers arrested and deported for running away from their employers. Subsequently, it is believed that many victims of involuntary servitude are deported before having the opportunity to file a complaint against their employer. The Government of Kuwait also has not improved physical protection services to trafficking victims; a shelter was proposed by the interagency committee on expatriate worker affairs, but so far no shelter has been established to protect victims and provide them with medical, psychological, and other rehabilitative services.

In October 2006, the Government of Kuwait implemented a standardized contract for domestic workers outlining their rights, including work hours, wages, and their right to retain their passports. The government claims that foreign workers will not be issued a visa to enter Kuwait for domestic work until the Kuwaiti embassy in their country validates this standardized contract. It remains unclear, however, how the terms of the contract will be enforced once workers are in Kuwait.

Since July 2006, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has prepared to implement the Government of Kuwait's National Awareness Raising Project for Domestic Workers. The ministry conducted surveys to assess the needs of domestic workers, as well as the concerns of employers and manpower agencies. The Government of Kuwait plans to officially launch a public awareness project in January to educate workers and employers on their rights and obligations.

Libya

The Government of Libya has made minimal progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In April, the Government of Libya formally permitted the opening of a Tripoli office of the IOM, which will work on trafficking issues. With financial assistance from the Governments of Italy and Libya, IOM in September 2006 conducted a technical workshop for 70 police officials and representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Prime Minister's office. Although the workshop focused primarily on international immigration law, some attention was given to issues of migrants' rights and best practices related to the repatriation and reintegration of stranded migrants, many of whom fall victim to trafficking.

Nonetheless, the Government of Libya took no steps to institute a formal mechanism to identify trafficking victims, particularly among foreigners detained and deported for illegal migration and those arrested for prostitution. Libya also did not improve its protection services for identified victims. The government has not taken steps to develop a national plan of action on trafficking in persons, which would focus Libya's anti-trafficking strategy.

Libya has similarly failed to report any criminal investigations or prosecutions of suspected traffickers despite reports of widespread confiscation of workers' passports and non-payment of wages for long periods of time, indicators of potential trafficking. Although corruption among customs and border officials is believed to be widespread and possibly used to facilitate trafficking, the Government of Libya has provided no evidence of efforts to combat this problem. In addition, no public awareness program exists to highlight the rights and obligations of employers and workers or to raise general awareness about trafficking in persons.

Oman

The Government of Oman has taken some steps to combat trafficking in persons but made minimal progress since the release of the 2006 report. In July, the Sultan issued Royal Decree 74/2006 prohibiting the use of forced labor and establishing prison terms and fines as possible penalties for violations. However, the law stipulates that the prison sentences available under this decree are not mandatory and cannot exceed one month and thus provide inadequate protection to workers. The Minister of Manpower issued an administrative circular in November 2006 that prohibits employers from withholding workers' passports without consent. Although this administrative measure is legally enforceable, the Ministry failed to articulate how this regulation would be enforced and what criminal penalties violators might receive.

Oman, however, has provided no evidence that it has developed a national plan of action to combat trafficking, or a system of protective services for victims. Similarly, the government did not offer statistics on the number of investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenses. The Government also did not supply evidence of steps to institute a formal procedure to identify trafficking victims from among the thousands of individuals deported every year.

Qatar

The Government of Qatar made limited progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. Although the government provided information on 24 prosecutions purportedly related to trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, the traffickers were charged under anti-prostitution statutes. Two Qataris were convicted of abusing a foreign domestic worker and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Similarly, the Government of Qatar has not instituted a formal mechanism to identify trafficking victims, particularly among the population of foreign workers detained and deported for running away from their sponsors.

The Government of Qatar has drafted, but not passed, amendments to its sponsorship regulations to protect the rights of foreign workers. Current regulations have the effect of restricting workers' movements and facilitating the detention and deportation of foreign workers, some of whom may be victims of involuntary servitude. Absent effective procedures for victim identification, it is believed that many victims of trafficking are deported without access to criminal justice and employers subsequently remain unpunished.

The Qatari government has drafted an anti-trafficking law that is being circulated to relevant agencies for comment. The government expects the draft law's review to be completed by the end of 2006, but it is unclear when the law will be enacted. The director of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs also noted that a new law specifically addressing domestic workers is also being drafted; however, domestic workers remain unprotected by general labor laws.

Restrictions on trafficking victims' access to a shelter opened by the government last year have been removed; police or government agency referral is no longer required. Victims may refer themselves via the government-run hotline or in person. The government has widely publicized the existence of the shelter and the hotlines in local newspapers, on TV (local and regional), and via brochures, posters, and leaflets. Although victims may still fear arrest and deportation if they contact police, the shelter has accommodated 20 cases attributed to trafficking in persons. The National Trafficking in Persons Office has assisted victims by providing: work, transfer of sponsorship, health care, financial support, lodging, legal assistance, and repatriation. The Government of Qatar has not provided statistics on how many additional victims may have contacted the government-run hotlines and how their cases were resolved.

Trafficking in persons training has been incorporated into basic training at the police academy and the National Trafficking in Persons Office conducted a five-day workshop for law enforcement and security officers in August. Representatives also trained immigration officers during the opening of the Doha Asian Games to assist them in identifying potential trafficking victims as they entered the country.

United Arab Emirates

The Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) made some progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In November, the government enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law criminalizing trafficking in persons, but not providing formal provisions for the protection of victims of trafficking. This new law outlines penalties ranging from one to five years' jail time for trafficking, with the possibility of life imprisonment given if certain aggravating factors are present. Fines of up to 20,000 dirhams ($5,446) are also possible, as is the confiscation of funds, possessions, or tools used in any trafficking crime. This law is scheduled to go into effect in December. Up until the enactment of the law, however, the government reported no criminal prosecutions of trafficking offenses such as forced commercial sexual exploitation or involuntary servitude under existing statutes.

Although the UAE has improved screening for target groups entering the country, such as women under 25 years old or those who travel with particular tourism agencies, the Government of the UAE has still not instituted a formal mechanism to identify trafficking victims arrested for prostitution or immigration violations. The Government of the UAE also provided no evidence that men and women who voluntarily entered the country illegally, but who subsequently fell victim to trafficking, were not punished. As such, it is believed that some victims of trafficking are prosecuted and/or deported rather than referred to protection services.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Dubai Police purportedly refers suspected victims to the Police Human Rights Care Department for identification and protection. According to the police, identified victims are housed temporarily in hotels or are referred to existing social support programs, including a shelter that had previously been used to protect rescued child camel jockeys. Other sources report, however, that some victims of domestic servitude are arrested for running away from their sponsors and deported before they are given a chance to file criminal complaints against their employers.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

India

The Government of India has made some progress in combating its significant problem of trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In September 2006, the central government responded to the need for a central anti-trafficking law enforcement effort by creating a two-person federal "nodal cell," responsible for collecting and analyzing data of state-level law enforcement efforts, identifying problem areas and analyzing the circumstances creating these areas, monitoring action taken by State governments for combating trafficking in these areas, and organizing coordination meetings with the nodal police officers of the states responsible for trafficking in persons crimes. However, the government still needs to go further in designating and empowering a national agency or office specifically tasked with carrying out an effective law enforcement response to trafficking crimes committed throughout India. The Government has provided significant in-kind contributions to a USG-funded United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) two-year program in Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh, focused on raising the awareness of police and prosecutors on the problem of trafficking and to build the capacity of these police and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute persons involved with trafficking. Law enforcement activity to combat trafficking in persons remains confined to the state-level and continues to be relatively low in comparison to the estimated extent of the situation. However, in June, two former state ministers in Jammu and Kashmir were arrested for trafficking in minor girls for commercial sexual exploitation, along with other senior government officials. Two traffickers in Delhi were also convicted and sentenced to three and seven years in prison, and another was arrested in August.

In November 2006, the Parliamentary Committee returned the amendments to the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act to the Ministry of Women and Child Development for revision. The Committee asked the Ministry to clarify language, provide a clearer delineation between criminals and victims, prioritize programs and resources for expanded rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, and recommended passage of the bill with those changes.

Despite estimates of a significant debt bondage situation in the country, the Government of India reports no arrests, prosecutions, or convictions of employers using bonded labor. India similarly did not provide evidence of any rescues of victims of bonded labor. India did, however, make moderate progress on addressing child labor; between September and November, Delhi police rescued 140 children working in "zari" factories and rice mills, but it is unclear how these children have been rehabilitated. In October, the government also enacted a ban on the employment of children in domestic work or the hospitality industry with penalties including 3 months to 2 years incarceration and the possibility of fines.

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

Argentina

The Government of Argentina has made limited progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. A number of key planned government initiatives have yet to be implemented, though the government increased its trafficking prosecutions and co-sponsored capacity building seminars with NGOs and law enforcement officials. Argentina's parliament moved anti-trafficking legislation forward but it did not pass the legislation. The government showed no progress in prosecuting of trafficking-related complicity by government officials. More government efforts are needed to expand law enforcement training on victim identification and assistance.

On December 6, the Senate unanimously approved an anti-trafficking bill to criminalize and punish trafficking on the federal level. In addition, a similar bill was submitted in the Lower House in early October 2006; the two chambers have yet to work to reconcile the two bills. Government passage and enactment of trafficking legislation is not expected before February 2007. Reportedly, the government initiated 20 international trafficking prosecutions at the provincial and federal levels. One prosecution involving the trafficking and torture of a victim resulted in three convictions. Another attempted prosecution involving 50 Paraguayan victims of sexual exploitation failed, however, as none of the victims were willing to cooperate with law enforcement. IOM continued to conduct a good portion of the law enforcement training on trafficking, but the Office of Assistance to Victims of Crime (OFAVI), through an agreement with the Council of Internal Security, made anti-trafficking education a regular part of training for law enforcement officials. OFAVI continued its anti-trafficking training for judicial officials. There are few specific anti-trafficking NGOs in Argentina but the government co-sponsored some capacity-building seminars with NGOs and has made an effort to raise general public awareness about trafficking in Argentina through print and broadcast media. The government has yet to prosecute any public officials for their involvement in trafficking, partially due to delays in judicial proceedings.

Belize

The Government of Belize has made significant progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The government increased its law enforcement efforts and arrested two traffickers, advanced nascent initiatives to provide care to victims, and continued public awareness efforts.

After the government formed a "tripartite team" of police, immigration, and social workers that conducted trafficking investigations which led to the arrest of two traffickers and the identification of 62 potential victims. In addition, the government Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee conducted trafficking training for key police officers. With support from the Government of Belize, the tourism industry and End Child Prostitution, Child Porography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) launched a code of conduct against trafficking for the industry. As of late August 2006, 25 tourism businesses had signed onto the code.

The government located funding to operate a victim shelter in the capital. The government has begun negotiations to acquire an additional shelter near Belize City. In addition, the government submitted a proposal to the Inter-American Development Bank for funding to develop and strengthen victim protection protocols. The Bank has approved the funding and the government expects that programming will begin in early 2007.

The government is updating its public service announcements on trafficking, which it airs on major television and radio stations. The government also distributes pamphlets and posters to government offices, NGOs, border crossings, and bus terminals. In addition, members of the government anti-trafficking committee appeared on talk shows to discuss trafficking and provide information about how victims can receive assistance.

Bolivia

The Government of Bolivia has shown clear progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The government improved its protection of trafficking victims by establishing a permanent and temporary shelter. It also took steps to raise public awareness about trafficking and it increased its trafficking enforcement efforts.

The government increased the number of trafficking investigations conducted in major urban trafficking destinations such as La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba. In an unprecedented case in late September 2006, the regional Attorney's office of Cochabamba prosecuted a trafficker for exploiting an 11-year old victim. The Prefecture of the Department of La Paz in June 2006 opened a shelter for trafficking victims, and it now houses 36 victims. Over the last six months, the government made progress in raising public awareness of the dangers of trafficking by enacting a decree requiring international airports to air a TV segment on trafficking. In addition, the Municipality of La Paz in July 2006 co-sponsored a workshop for local government and NGOs to develop common procedures for handling trafficking cases. Finally, in August and September 2006, a governmental trafficking working group held two seminars to draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation for Bolivia.

Brazil

The Government of Brazil has made minimal improvements in addressing its trafficking in persons problem since the release of the 2006 Report. Concrete progress has yet to be realized however, in passage of anti-trafficking legislation and convicting and punishing traffickers. During the last six months, the government has taken some important steps to improve its law enforcement capacity to combat trafficking.

In October 2006, the President issued an executive order establishing a comprehensive national anti-TIP Policy. Since March 2006, high-level government officials have spoken out condemning trafficking and the use of forced labor. Also in October 2006, the government inaugurated a national trafficking data base to document and analyze arrest, prosecution, and conviction statistics more effectively. Since March 2006, the GOB expanded and improved upon the training of federal law enforcement and judicial officials on modifications to existing TIP statues and how to identify, investigate, and prosecute TIP cases more effectively. This training led to the first recorded arrest in Brazil for internal trafficking in November 2006.

Brazilian law enforcement has continued to investigate and prosecute a modest number of commercial of sexual exploitation cases. During 2006 the government investigated 173 cases of forced labor using teams of federal labor inspectors, police, and prosecutors. This resulted in some victims being rescued from their exploiters; however, the government has yet to prosecute these cases. In November 2006, a detailed investigative news report highlighted the problem of forced labor in the charcoal production industry and linked it to Brazil's pig iron production, 95% of which is exported to the United States for steel production. The Ministry of Labor's special anti-slavery unit continued to rescue victims of forced labor in the Amazon charcoal production camps, cattle raising, and other areas of agricultural production, but again, none of these rescues have resulted yet in criminal prosecutions of the traffickers who exploit these workers. The government took steps to remedy this by obtaining a December 1, 2006 Supreme Court ruling that all slave/forced labor cases fall under the jurisdiction of, and must be turned over to, the federal court system. This ruling is expected to lead to successful criminal prosecutions in the federal court system. In the absence of adequate criminal sanctions against forced labor, the government utilized alternative civil remedies, including the use of increasingly stiffer fines and a program backed by federal regulation to get private lenders to deny them credit.

Ecuador

Since its upgrading to Tier 2 in the 2006 Report, the Government of Ecuador has made additional progress in its efforts to combat human trafficking. The government provided additional staff, training, and resources in order to ensure traffickers face prompt prosecutions and continued to work with civil society to train officials, raise public awareness, and improve protection for victims. Ecuador also robustly implemented its 2005 anti-trafficking legislation by conducting new investigations and prosecutions under the statute. The President established a national action plan and government agencies completed an operational plan to implement the national plan.

Ecuador increased the number of law enforcement officials and prosecutors devoted to combating human trafficking. In May 2006, the child welfare police created an eight-person trafficking intelligence unit that works with police, Interpol, and prosecutors. In September 2006, a specialized 14-person Special Sexual Crimes Police Unit was established to investigate trafficking in person crimes. The government in August 2006 also created and trained a 36-member specialized police unit, spread over seven major cities, dedicated to victim and witness protection. Seventy-five traffickers have been arrested since March 2006 and the government successfully prosecuted and sentenced its first trafficker in October.

Over the last six months, the Ecuadorian government continued to promote training for government officials, to focus efforts on public awareness, and to increase the number of victims assisted and protected. Prosecutors and judges received training to better prepare and adjudicate trafficking cases. The government conducted a two-day media training session on trafficking for TV, radio, and print journalists. Authorities also in November 2006 launched a $1 million, year-long public awareness campaign and a $60,000 anti-sex tourism awareness campaign. Since the beginning of 2006, the Victim and Witness Protection program has assisted 43 trafficking victims.

Jamaica

The Government of Jamaica has shown modest progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. Despite the government's prior commitment to advancing key anti-trafficking initiatives, it has yet to show concrete improvements in the areas of prosecuting and convicting trafficking crimes and protecting victims. Since April 2006, the Jamaican government took some steps to increase its capacity to investigate and prosecute trafficking, including conducting informal law enforcement training and anti-trafficking workshops. Further, in December 2006, the House of Representatives passed comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation. The legislation is currently under debate in the Senate.

Since April 2006, Jamaican police have raided 27 nightclubs for evidence of trafficking, resulting in the rescue of nine trafficking victims, three of which were between the ages of 13 and 17. Victim protection efforts, however, remain ad hoc and the government has yet to develop or implement a formalized referral system to increase victim identification and prevent the inadvertent prosecution or deportation of victims.

In October 2006, the government established a special committee to review procedures for the granting of work permits, and suspended the granting of work permits for nightclub dancers, which have been used to facilitate some trafficking. Requests for dancer permits submitted by hotels, however, are still being granted.

Using existing laws, the government charged five suspected traffickers in children. Despite recent law enforcement progress, Jamaica still has much work to undertake to fully combat trafficking, including vigorously prosecuting and convicting traffickers, and fully addressing an environment of corruption.

Mexico

The Government of Mexico has shown modest progress in addressing trafficking in persons issues since the release of the 2006 Report. Greater government resources were dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts, resulting in a greater number of law enforcement investigations. Two states passed anti-trafficking legislation. A much-needed comprehensive federal law, which the senate has passed, has yet to be approved by the lower chamber of congress and enacted.

The year-old anti-trafficking unit in the Federal Police produced a greater number of trafficking investigations. Since the beginning of 2006, the Police have pursued ten anti-trafficking cases, arresting a number of suspected traffickers and rescuing dozens of presumed victims of both trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and victims of labor trafficking. While some of the alleged traffickers and victims were found to be unconnected to trafficking, aggressive pursuit of traffickers related to these cases is ongoing.

The Federal Police showed an improved effort to collect and record statistics on trafficking cases. Mexican police cooperated in providing valuable information in support of three anti-trafficking investigations in the United States. Draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, which Mexico's Senate passed in early 2006, progressed in the lower chamber of congress but has not yet been passed. The states of Michoacan and Chihuahua passed anti-trafficking legislation in June and November, respectively.

The government did not provide trafficking victims with shelter in dedicated centers during the reporting period. Mexico's immigration agency, however, in September 2006 instituted a policy of granting temporary visas to foreign victims of trafficking who cooperate with law enforcement officials in the prosecution of their trafficker. Immigration officials still lack formal procedures for the interviewing and referring of trafficking victims to NGO service providers.

There were no reported cases of arrests, investigations, or prosecutions of Mexican law enforcement officials complicit in trafficking, despite widespread reporting of such official involvement in human trafficking.

Peru

The Government of Peru made limited progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. However, key deficiencies in the government's anti-trafficking response have yet to be addressed. The government produced a draft of a legal framework for future anti-trafficking actions in coordination with the International Organization for Migration, but little concrete progress has been made to address key recommendations in the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report.

The government recently took steps to expedite passage of a draft comprehensive anti-trafficking bill, and in late October 2006, it resubmitted the legislation to Congress. The government, however, has not increased its trafficking prosecutions and convictions; seven prosecutions initiated in 2005 have not yet concluded. Furthermore, the government did not provide adequate anti-trafficking resources for law enforcement.

The Public Ministry provided political support and substantial in-kind support including travel expenses and staff time for a USG-funded Peruvian NGO to conduct a post-graduate certificate program on TIP for 1,389 prosecutors, police, health workers, educators, and local government officials in 13 cities. The Public Ministry began building a computerized case tracking system to allow prosecutors to monitor cases. A permanent interagency group chaired by the Ministry of Interior, which includes the police and immigration, has been designated by law to monitor the enforcement of TIP laws and the progress of TIP cases through the judicial system as well as to gather statistics on trafficking. On March 13, the Ministry of Interior established a nationwide hotline for reporting TIP crimes.


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