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Release of 2002 Trafficking in Persons Report

Release of 2002 Trafficking in Persons Report

Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Remarks at Special Briefing Washington, DC June 5, 2002

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Thank you, Secretary Powell, for your inspiring introduction of this second annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

I am proud to say that this is the largest annual report of its kind created by any single government worldwide. To compile this document, which reports on 89 countries, information was gathered from 186 US embassies and consulates, among other sources, including NGOs and media reports.

The Report is many things. It's a sober reminder of the reality of this modern-day form of slavery. It is a tool for our engagement with other countries, a starting point for dialogue. It's a platform for advocates. It's a coordination opportunity for regional, anti-trafficking efforts among governments. Hopefully, and most importantly, it's a freedom-promoting mechanism for individual victims of enslavement everywhere.

Ultimately, the Report should be employed as a practical tool for producing anti-trafficking strategies globally. And I invite NGOs, think tanks, Congress, and other experts to embrace this opportunity.

Trafficking in persons is a leading international crime and human rights abuse. As the Secretary noted, the global magnitude is staggering. Annual estimates range from 700,000 to 4 million people bought, sold, transported and held in slavery-like conditions for sex and labor exploitation. The nature of this crime -- underground, often under-acknowledged -- contributes to the inability to pin down the number of people who are victimized by traffickers each year. The scope of this hideous exploitation is wide and varied, but typically involves victims entrapped into commercial, sexual exploitation such as prostitution and pornography, and labor exploitation such as sweatshops, construction sites and agriculture. Additional forms of forced labor and abuse include domestic servitude, forced marriages, and camel jockeys, to name just a few.

The Report is produced by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which was established at the Department of State last October, pursuant to comprehensive legislation adopted by the Congress. In addition to reporting duties, the Office assists in the coordination of the US Government's anti- trafficking efforts, both domestically and abroad, guided by the vision of eradicating trafficking worldwide.

The Report includes a three-tiered country list, which evaluates governmental efforts to combat trafficking on the basis of minimum standards described in the law, followed by individual country narratives. This year, 89 countries are listed as follows: 18 countries in Tier 1, 52 countries on Tier 2, and 19 countries in Tier 3. The last, or third, tier identifies countries that neither fully comply with the minimum standards, nor are making significant efforts to do so.

Since the Report last year, many countries improved their anti- trafficking efforts, 14 of them so much that they are placed in a more favorable tier from last year. Furthermore, because of changed circumstances or new information, two countries that were on the 2001 Report are not included on this year's Report.

The Report is working. Already we are seeing success stories, as mentioned by the Secretary. The Republic of Korea, as well as Romania and Israel, have aggressively pursued anti-trafficking initiatives since the first report was issued last year, extensively coordinating with us on practical measures and policy strategies.

Acknowledging the huge task before us, this is a good beginning for concerted anti-trafficking efforts internationally. In closing, the degrading, insidious practice of slavery is found worldwide. It is found in rich countries and in poor countries, in sending countries and destination countries. It is found in democracies such as the United States, into which at least 50,000 people are trafficked annually. It is found in conflict-ridden countries and among displaced, vulnerable populations.

As we enter the 21st century, trafficking must be challenged worldwide. Trafficking must end. This Report is intended to empower everyone fighting to stop slavery in the 21st century.

I'd be happy to answer your questions.

QUESTION: Which countries might face sanctions next year, as the Secretary said? And what kind of sanctions does the law require or would impose on those countries?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: It will be all of the countries in 2003 in the report that comes out a year from now that are on Tier 3, and the sanctions will involve non-humanitarian and non-trade-related sanctions, and in directions in the international financial institutions to vote against loans in the World Bank and the IMF, for example.

QUESTION: A group that's dedicated to freeing young girls from sexual trafficking has indicated they think that India and Thailand are among the worst offenders, and yet they are in Tier 2. Why is that the case?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: The evaluation we make on India and Thailand is, first of all, whether they have significant numbers of traffic victims. They both, of course, meet that category. So they are then immediately analyzed to determine whether they are making serious and sustained efforts to meet those minimum standards. Neither India nor Thailand meets the minimum standards.

However, they have over the last year sustained the efforts that they were making to combat trafficking in persons. For example, India supports 80 homes for victims of trafficking. It has invited NGOs to provide specialized services to victims, including counseling and legal advocacy. In many cities, NGOs and police work closely together to help rescued women. They have a very, very low conviction rate. They have serious problems in prosecutions. However, in a number of cities -- New Delhi, for example -- they now have 47 cases in the courts of prosecuting traffickers.

QUESTION: Is it -- we are certainly -- this is a very sensitive time for India right now, and there are some on Capitol Hill, well, wondering whether political considerations entered into this.

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Not at all. This is, I think, the most objective report that we could issue. There were absolutely no political considerations entering into this. Some of our closest allies are on Tier 3, and they were on Tier 3 last year. This is a straight-out, objective report determining whether a country meets the minimum standards, and whether it's making serious and sustained efforts to meet those minimum standards, which would then place it in Tier 2.

QUESTION: Those were quite harsh words for the Afghan Interim Administration. I know it only covers last year, but can you tell us if you have anecdotal information of them making an effort this year?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: It's very difficult with a situation such as Afghanistan to come up with adequate information and statistics. We did determine that there were over 100 trafficking victims either trafficked into Afghanistan or out of Afghanistan, so that we would make that determination and evaluate them.

But the Afghan Interim Administration hasn't been there long enough. The Report runs through March, and we were basing our information on what they are doing, but also what the Taliban was doing. And they were very much involved in trafficking.

So we'll look at Afghanistan again next year, after we have had a whole year of the Afghan Interim Administration.

QUESTION: Russia is on Tier 3. You say the Report says that they are making an effort, but they still remain on the bottom. Could you discuss why they are still there?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Well, I wouldn't say they remain on the bottom. I don't think that's fair. The countries that I think of as on the bottom are the ones that don't acknowledge they have a trafficking problem. And Russia is not one of them. Russia is working; Russia acknowledges it has a trafficking problem. It's providing funding for some victim services and compensation, as well as protection of rights. It is dealing with victims. They are not jailed any more or prosecuted for prostitution, which had been going on before.

And the Duma has requested advice and information from us to help draft a trafficking law, so that is all good news. However, they don't have a trafficking law, and there are rarely cases that are investigated. So that is why they are still on Tier 3, but they are making efforts. And that is what we want to encourage as a result of this Report.

QUESTION: If I could ask you a question about the figures. Last year's Report spoke of 700,000 people possibly involved in trafficking or who were kind of snared by trafficking. This year's Report includes the upper figure of possibly 4 million people. Can I just ask you the kind of basis of those figures, how you come up with --

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Right. It's very, very hard to come up with statistics, which is one of our problems. It's very difficult to count, to get accurate figures. And the 700,000 figure is, I think, from 1994 or 1996. The 4 million figure comes from a study that was done by the International Organization of Migration, and that's an organization that's very, very active in the field of trafficking. So we don't really have good statistics, and we're hoping to when the State Department and the Justice Department opens a new center to share intelligence on trafficking and migrant smuggling, and I'm hoping that will produce better information for us than we have presently.

QUESTION: That might answer my question. Some senators are concerned that the Report doesn't include any numbers, and since the Act was theirs, they feel like they should be able to -- not dictate, but more or less suggest some things they would like included in that. And some even suggested the Report be delayed while you try to add more numbers in, which I don't believe was done.

Could you address that, and see if you're going to be able to put in some more numbers, as they wish?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: See, that's a real problem. That's even a problem in the United States. We didn't an anti-trafficking law, until the year 2000 when this landmark legislation was passed. So if you want to keep track of the numbers of anti-trafficking cases in the United States, you have to look at the Mann Act, you have to look at various state kidnapping statutes, in order to add up and come up with a figure that would give you those kinds of statistics.

And we have that problem in the United States. Can you imagine what the problem is in countries that don't keep those statistics? And in fact, it would look like the Western countries, or the countries that keep very good criminal justice statistics on the numbers of cases, would look like the worst offenders.

So it's very, very hard. We're trying to get more figures, and we're trying to get more statistics, and we will over the coming year. But it's a very dicey area.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Most of the victims from South Asia, they come -- they are bought and sold for Saudi Arabia or many other Middle Eastern or South Arabian countries. And Saudi Arabia is in two or three. So what the United States doing, because Saudi Arabia was involved in many other low-level trafficking and other things, and it's friends with the United States?

And also, under Saudi Arabia, you have mentioned that victims come from India and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and so forth, so many other countries, but you have not mentioned that victims also come from Pakistan, because I was told that so many Pakistanis are also trafficked in Saudi Arabia.

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Absolutely. You're absolutely correct. There are many, many people who are trafficked from South Asia into the countries in the Gulf. And Saudi Arabia is one of them. The government has an extensive system of labor courts that enforce terms of work contracts, because, as you know, many, many go as workers. But a lot of these workers are exempt from the labor laws.

QUESTION: But also protects the young girls --

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Exactly, exactly. So there is really no protection, and there is certainly no protection for those people who are trafficked into the country because they don't have any legal documentation frequently. And we hope to raise this, and I hope -- I plan -- to meet with the government representatives and expect that they will seriously look at the problem that exists in Saudi Arabia.

QUESTION: As far as India is concerned, what are you -- this earlier question that -- what response are you getting from India or other South Asian countries what they are doing about this trafficking, because it's a very serious problem. Is it economy, or it's under -- it's out of control from the government hands? Or if they are coming also in the United States, that means we have border problems, or what are the latest problems?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: It's all of those problems, as I said before. The Government of India recognizes it has a problem. It's working cooperatively with NGOs to provide protection for victims. It needs to do it much more prosecution.

QUESTION: Speaking about the cooperation between the United States and Romania in fighting trafficking, can you give us more detail what has been done, what remains to be done in this field?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Yes. I would cite the Government of Romania as one of those governments that really was a model at responding to our Report last year and working very, very closely with us. Your Foreign Minister, in fact, came and met with us and sat in a room with a table of all kinds of people talking about trafficking, and responded and answered their questions and was really engaged, which is what I hope to see as a result of this Report this year. The Government of Romania passed a law in December of 2001 that criminalizes trafficking. It organized a crime directorate that is investigating trafficking and arresting traffickers. And the government has prosecuted traffickers under kidnapping and pimping codes. For protection, the government has allocated space for the shelter of trafficking victims, cooperates with other governments in repatriation for its trafficked citizens abroad, and has made substantial efforts to comply with our Report last year. And I hope that other governments will respond as well.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to look at, I guess you could call them subcontract companies, some which are maybe highly illegal, that are tied in to the underworld here in the United States, for instance -- Las Vegas, overseas and other countries that shadow type of subcontract work where people find work from vans or trucks in the area where they're --

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Well, within the United States, that jurisdiction is with the Department of Justice. And I know that they are looking very carefully into that. We are also raising that with other governments, and there are a number of governments that have shut down operations that have been phony front organizations, travel agencies, employment agencies, that are soliciting particularly women for jobs and are really phony organizations and fronts for traffickers.

QUESTION: Thank you. I think maybe this goes to (inaudible) State Department, but precisely has been to take the kind of network of mafias that are managing all these situation, and what is done about that?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Well, it's obvious that the documentation, the false documentation that traffickers in persons get, is similar to the false documentation that drug traffickers get, that arms dealers provide. The money laundering operations are very similar. There has got to be a tie-in with organized crime. We see it. It's more difficult to do something about it, but we are working on it.

QUESTION: Can you say who you think the worst offenders are? You said that some of the Tier 3 list aren't the bottom. Who are on the bottom?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Well, we don't grade countries. We just look at what they are doing in an objective fashion. As I said before, the countries that have a serious, serious trafficking problem, who refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem--it makes such a difference if you have a country that maybe does not have the capacity to deal with a serious problem, but recognizes that they have a problem and are willing to work regionally with us, with other countries, particularly if it's a source country, and we can get a destination country that is able financially to provide economic assistance; alternative assistance to those countries.

But I can't say that one is the worst. I mean, we really don't grade them that way.

QUESTION: Two questions. First of all, is there any evidence -- I remember some talk a while back that perhaps terrorist financing, some of it anyway, was coming from trafficking in persons. If you can respond to that?

And then also, in addition to this Report, and you going out or diplomats going out and talking to governments? One of the tools of US diplomacy, and its leverage, is public criticism of countries for these practices. And you don't -- contrary to some human rights violations or drug trafficking problems, you don't hear a lot of US officials criticizing countries publicly to make them take more efforts in terms of trafficking in persons. Do you think that the creation of this office, and this legislation and perhaps the sanctions will increase public attention to the problem of trafficking, and perhaps tougher US diplomacy on the subject?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: I think the Report has increased the attention that the world pays on trafficking, and that the United States, that the American people pay to trafficking, but we need a lot more publicity, and I would call on all of you to help us get the word out and publicize the trafficking cases because we really do need the assistance of all of you.

QUESTION: If I could follow up, though, do you see a scenario where, in addition to a lot of the other issues of bilateral relations that the US has with other countries, are we going to see this issue being raised publicly, on a public level?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: This issue is raised all the time in all of the meetings that we hold. In some cases, it pays to do it in quiet diplomacy. Sometimes the reverse is true. But we tailor what we do to the country that we're dealing with bilaterally.

MR. BOUCHER: Can we just do one or two more?

QUESTION: Some of the Tier 3 countries are both very strong US allies and also fairly well-to-do countries -- I mean, not rich, but -- Saudi is one of them; Greece, being an EU country; and even on Tier 2, with Israel. Why -- when -- in the country profiles, you say that government has yet to comply fully or doesn't seem willing to comply fully; what excuses are given, if it's not a financial reason, like with some of these countries?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Well, some of it is that they don't have the legislation; they don't have the criminal law in place. They haven't trained their prosecutors to recognize the difference between trafficking and smuggling, for example. They have not provided any protection for victims. The government is not providing any kind of secure places for victims, a hotline for them to call to get assistance.

QUESTION: My question is, what excuses do they give for not having this, other than -- I mean, if they don't have legislation, why aren't they pushing it through? If they don't have hotlines, why do they say they're not setting them up?

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Well, some of them are. But a law that's been introduced in parliament won't do it; you have to be implementing the law. And an action plan -- some of the countries you mentioned have action plans, but they have to implement the action plans. We can't just say, you know, that's great; you have wonderful plans. But let's see what you do with it.

And so that's the problem. And I think a number of the countries that you mentioned do have action plans and will be making efforts. But we haven't seen the results. And this Report only reports results.

MR. BOUCHER: Last question to Elaine.

QUESTION: Speaking of results, I wonder if you could update us on some of the information that was released by this building in April that talked about plans for centers to be set up in Central and Eastern Europe, and for -- and US laws? I know it's not your area, but maybe you could update us, for US laws to be made tougher so that prosecutors have an easier task prosecuting Americans who are --

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: Americans in the Balkans, you're talking about?

QUESTION: Well, just generally refer to plans to make laws tougher and to set up special centers and so on; is there any progress since --

AMBASSADOR ELY-RAPHEL: The Justice Department has draft statutes that they're working on presently, and I would refer you to the Justice Department. But we have been talking to them, and they are very serious about getting this introduced.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.


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