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Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

By US Department of State  •  June 14, 2010

The 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report marks the 10th anniversary of key milestones in the fight against modern slavery. In 2000, the United States enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), and the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, also known as the Palermo Protocol. Since then, the world has made great strides in combating this ultimate exploitation – both in terms of what we know about this crime and how we respond.

The Palermo Protocol focused the attention of the global community on combating human trafficking. For the first time, an international instrument called for the criminalization of all acts of trafficking – including forced labor, slavery, and slaverylike practices – and that governmental response should incorporate the “3P” paradigm: prevention, criminal prosecution, and victim protection. Over 10 years, governments worldwide have made appreciable progress in understanding a number of realities about human trafficking: people are in situations of modern slavery in most countries; trafficking is a fluid phenomenon responding to market demands, weakness in laws and penalties, and economic and development disparities. More people are trafficked for forced labor than for commercial sex. The crime is less often about the flat-out duping and kidnapping of naïve victims than it is about the coercion and exploitation of people who initially entered a particular form of service voluntarily or migrated willingly. Trafficking can occur without movement across borders or domestically, but many countries and commentators still assume some movement is required. Men comprise a significant number of trafficking victims. And traffickers often use sexual violence as a weapon against women to keep them in compelled service, whether in a field, a factory, a brothel, a home, or a war zone.

The “3P” paradigm is an interlocking one. It is not enough to prosecute traffickers if we do not also provide assistance to the survivors and work to ensure that no one else is victimized. No country has yet attained a truly comprehensive response to this massive, ever increasing, ever changing crime. Ten years of focused efforts is the mere infancy of this modern movement; many countries are still learning about human trafficking and the best responses to it.

Promising practices, task forces, and coordinating bodies’ national plans of action must be implemented on the ground, and local innovations must be supported and amplified by central governments. The vast majority of the millions held in modern slavery have yet to benefit from any progress; every country must do more to fulfill the promise of the Palermo Protocol.

Last year, the world imported and exported billions of dollars in products tainted by forced labor in manufacturing and raw materials procurement, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Governments knowingly and unknowingly deported trafficking victims and failed to provide victims shelter and reintegration services, which led to undercutting investigations and delaying the rehabilitation of victims. They continued to struggle with poorly constructed immigration laws that increased the vulnerability of migrant populations to trafficking.

When reviewing the trafficking assessment for each country, it is critical to remember that these assessments are based on compliance with minimum standards set forth in the TVPA, as amended – what the U.S. government considers the floor for engagement rather than the ceiling.

Fighting human trafficking is not a static exercise. A trafficking law passed last year must be implemented and improved this year. The lessons learned from last year’s prosecutions should inform and improve this year’s law enforcement response. Wide disparities between numbers of trafficking victims identified and trafficking offenders prosecuted should be reviewed with the goal of improving the capacity of law enforcement responders to deliver justice for victims. Although numbers of trafficking prosecutions and convictions are important indicators of progress, the quality and impact of counter-trafficking law enforcement efforts are more significant.

The missed opportunities for compassionate and effective victim identification must serve as a clarion call to ensure that this year, there is a proactive approach to victim identification and assistance, upholding the Palermo Protocol and the TVPA’s guarantees of justice for every victim.

The 2010 TIP Report is a diagnostic tool reflective of efforts on the ground now. It is neither a condemnation nor a reprieve; nor is it a guarantee of next year’s ranking. Indeed, this year’s report reflects upgrades for 23 countries in recognition of long overdue results and downgrades for 19 countries demonstrating sparse victim protections, desultory implementation, or inadequate legal structures.

Most countries that deny the existence of victims of modern slavery within their borders are not looking, trying, or living up to the mandates of the Palermo Protocol and the demands of our common humanity. There is no shame in addressing a problem of this magnitude; the shame lies in ignoring it.

The United States holds itself accountable to the same standards by which we judge others. For the first time, this year’s TIP Report includes a U.S. ranking as well as a full, candid narrative on U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking. The ranking reflects the contributions of government agencies, public input, and independent research by the Department of State. The United States recognizes that, like other countries, it has a serious problem with human trafficking for both labor and commercial sexual exploitation. The U.S. government takes pride in its best practices to combat the crime of trafficking, recognizes challenges, and seeks continual innovation and strengthening of its efforts at home and in partnership with other countries.

Download the full report.

BURMA (Tier 3)

Burma is a source country for men, women, and children who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and for women and children in forced prostitution in other countries. Burmese children are subjected to forced labor as hawkers and beggars in Thailand. Many men, women, and children who migrate abroad for work in Thailand, Malaysia, China, Bangladesh, India, and South Korea are trafficked into conditions of forced or bonded labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Economic conditions within the country led to increased legal and illegal migration of Burmese regionally and to destinations as far as the Middle East. Men are subjected to forced labor in the fishing and construction industries abroad. Burmese women who migrate to Thailand, China, and Malaysia for economic opportunities are found in situations of forced labor and forced prostitution. Some trafficking victims transit Burma from Bangladesh to Malaysia and from China to Thailand and beyond. The government has yet to address the systemic political and economic problems that cause many Burmese to seek employment through both legal and illegal means in neighboring countries, where some become victims of trafficking.

Burma’s internal trafficking remains the most serious concern. The military engages in the unlawful conscription of child soldiers, and continues to be the main perpetrator of forced labor inside Burma. The direct government and military use of forced or compulsory labor remains a widespread and serious problem, particularly targeting members of ethnic minority groups. Military and civilian officials systematically used men, women, and children for forced labor for the development of infrastructure and state-run agricultural and commercial ventures, as well as forced portering for the military. Those living in areas with the highest military presence, including remote border areas populated by ethnic groups, are most at risk for forced labor.

Military and civilian officials subject men, women, and children to forced labor, and men and boys as young as 11 years old are forcibly recruited to serve in the Burmese army and ethnic armed groups through intimidation, coercion, threats, and violence. Thousands of children are forced to serve in Burma’s national army as desertions of men in the army continue. Children of the urban poor are at particular risk of involuntary conscription; UN reports indicate that the army has targeted orphans and children on the streets and in railway stations, and young novice monks from monasteries for recruitment. Children are threatened with jail if they do not agree to join the army, and sometimes physically abused. Children are subjected to forced labor in tea shops, home industries, and agricultural plantations. Exploiters traffic girls for the purpose of prostitution, particularly in urban areas.

In some areas, in particular international sex trafficking of women and girls, the Government of Burma is making significant efforts. Nonetheless, serious problems remain in Burma, and in some areas, most notably in the area of forced labor, the Government of Burma is not making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, warranting a ranking of Tier 3. The regime’s widespread use of and lack of accountability in forced labor and recruitment of child soldiers is particularly worrying and represent the top causal factor for Burma’s significant trafficking problem.

Download the full section on Burma.

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This post is in: Children and Youth, Crimes Against Humanity, Women

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