Trafficking in Persons ReportJohn R. Miller, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights
June 25, 2003
Mr. Chairman and other Members of the Committee,
I want to thank you for the opportunity to personally present to the Congress the third annual Trafficking in Persons Report prepared by the Department of State. As you know, Secretary Powell announced the issuance of the Report on June 11, 2003, but I personally looked forward to the opportunity to discuss this year’s report directly with members of this committee.
All of us are keenly aware of the horrific experiences of the 800,000 to 900,000 women, children, and men who are trafficked across international borders every year. These numbers do not include victims who are trafficked within their own countries. We now estimate that this modern-day slavery also includes 18,000 to 20,000 victims who enter the United States annually. Thanks to the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the federal government is actively combating trafficking here and abroad.
This third annual report carries special significance because for the first time, governments that are not making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with the Act’s minimum standards could face consequences that include the loss of non-humanitarian-, non-trade-related assistance. I would like to assure the Committee that the Department views the imposition of penalties on other countries as a very serious matter and that my staff conducted extensive research into the anti-trafficking activities of other governments. Our embassies submitted serious and detailed reports, and international and non-governmental organizations continued to share with us their experiences and understanding of trafficking developments around the world. As a result, I am pleased to present what I consider to be the most comprehensive report on the effort of governments worldwide to combat what the Act defines as “severe forms of trafficking in persons.”
Our research resulted in the addition of 30 countries to the tier lists in this year’s report. A total of 116 countries are on the report’s tier lists. The governments of 26 countries were found to fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards, so those countries were placed on tier 1. We determined that 75 countries had governments that do not yet fully comply with the Act’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. These countries were placed on tier 2. There were another 15 countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. These 15 countries fell into tier 3.
As I stated earlier, governments in tier 3 could be subject to certain consequences including the withholding of non-humanitarian, non-trade related assistance. Tier 3 governments not receiving such assistance may be subject to withholding of funding for participation of their officials in cultural or educational exchange programs. The United States may also be directed to oppose assistance for Tier 3 countries through the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and other multilateral development banks. . These potential consequences take effect during the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2003.
The assistance-related consequences can be waived, totally or in part, based on a determination that the provision of the assistance would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States. This waiver authority must be exercised when necessary to avoid significant adverse effects on vulnerable populations, including women and children. The sanctions would also not apply if the Department finds that before October 1, 2003, a government has taken steps that effectively move it out of tier 3, that is, it has come into compliance with the minimum standards or is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance.
My staff is working actively with several of our embassies to outline the steps that we believe a country can and should be taking. Our goal is to aggressively utilize this period of heightened attention and threat of sanctions to galvanize real action that will translate into lives saved and victims rescued. These steps would naturally also demonstrate that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance and not subject to these consequences. In the end, it is not the imposition of sanctions that we seek but the recognition by governments that they must address the problem of trafficking in persons seriously, they must develop strategies and programs to fight it effectively, and they must rescue the victims. And more than just the recognition by governments, we seek their action.
There are many actions governments have taken to fight trafficking and, as noted in our report, they do not have to be expensive or elaborate. For instance, the Royal Government of Nepal employs former victims to work alongside border guards to identify traffickers and victims. The Government of Sri Lanka encourages the use of video taped testimony from children and other victims to lessen the trauma of testifying against traffickers. In Andhra Pradesh, India, a law enforcement officer’s performance rating is linked to his or her effort to investigate and apprehend human traffickers. The burden is on the governments to demonstrate that they are making significant efforts to fight trafficking in spite of their economic or other possible limitations.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that the Administration’s State Department efforts to fight trafficking in persons is not confined to this annual report. In February, we convened 400 people from the United States and abroad who were active participants in the fight against sex trafficking. Congressmen Frank Wolf and Chris Smith addressed the delegates who came from all strata of society and represented an enormous range of anti-trafficking experiences. The conference brought together many groups and individuals who had no knowledge of each other but who now seek to work together. At another level, I am convening next week the latest quarterly meeting of a multi-agency meeting group to coordinate the anti-trafficking strategies and programs of the federal agencies involved in this fight against traffickers. Our ambassadors throughout the world are keeping this issue on our bilateral agenda, raising awareness, and calling for action. Through our outreach efforts here and abroad, we are raising awareness about this issue so that everyone who learns of the problem can be part of the solution. My staff has traveled to scores of countries to meet with foreign government officials, non-governmental representatives and others who are joining the fight.
There is much being done to fight trafficking and clearly much more needs to be done. I am pleased to report that this fight truly engages the Department’s energy and imagination and we appreciate the unswerving support we have received from the Congress. I will close my remarks at this point and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.