Trafficking Report Downgrades Russia and China

Published: 21 June 2013


Russian and China have been downgraded to the lowest possible score in the 2013 US Department of State Trafficking in persons report issued this week. The fall from Tier 2 to Tier 3 will mean both countries will face new sanctions for their poor performance according to the US Department of State.

In a briefing held Wednesday in Washington, Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca said 46,000 victims of the estimated 27 million enslaved people worldwide have been identified. While this continues an upward trend from 2012, these statistics show the magnitude of the challenge ahead in combatting human trafficking. 

The TIP Report categorizes 188 countries into four levels: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3. Each country is ranked based on their level of compliance with minimum standards established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). A Tier 1 classification means a country is meeting standards while a Tier 3 rating means a country has made no effort to comply with the minimum standards laid out in the TVPA. The Department of State imposed sanctions for countries that fall into that category. The report also classifies some countries as being on a Tier 2 Watch List – those are Tier 2 countries that are not making progress or backsliding. Countries can only be on the list before being reevaluated. At that point, they must either achieve Tier 2 status or be relegated to Tier 3. There is an exception: the Secretary of State can waive an automatic downgrade if a country has a written plan of action and resources that would raise their standards to combat human trafficking. However that waiver is limited to a couple of years. 

The 2013 TIP Report is the first year in which the waiver for a plan of action and resources for Tier 2 Watch List countries is no longer available, Ambassador CdeBaca said in the briefing. According to the report, three countries were thus downgraded to Tier 3 – Russia, China, and Uzbekistan. 

According to the TIP Report, Russia and China are ranked among the worst offenders in combatting forced labor and sex trafficking. In Russia, labor trafficking is a prominent problem. The report cites that an estimated one million people are involved in exploitative labor. The report also states that China has seen an increase in exploitative labor and sex trafficking within its borders and from the migrant community. 

These are not the Department of State’s only worries in regards to Russia and China. “We continue to have concerns about victim care and the need for more aggressive victim identification and assistance,” Ambassador CdeBaca said in the briefing. 

The sanctions to Tier 3 countries potentially include cuts to foreign aid, cultural and educational grants, the US preventing IMF loans. Ambassador CdeBaca said that the President would look at each case individually to determine appropriate sanctions. 

Ambassador CdeBaca insisted that applying these sanctions would not be a cut-and-paste method. The aim is not to cut off the resources necessary to move up in the Tier ranks. 

“We want to make sure that [the sanctions] are targeted and that we are not cutting off the ability to help the countries,” Ambassador CdebBaca said.