For fourteen years the US Department of State has issued an annual report on trafficking entitled the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report). The report is meant to serve as a diplomatic tool in engaging foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also, for better or worse, the world’s most comprehensive resource on governmental anti-trafficking efforts and serves a country-by-country analysis of the problem. The report is used worldwide by international organizations, foreign governments and non-governmental organizations to examine the problem globally as well as the efforts to combat it. It is not without flaws or criticism and let’s be honest, the US does not necessarily set the global standard. I imagine certain US allies are granted acceptable rankings and not because they deserve them but rather are in compliance with other US interests. Ideally, this report would involve other global agencies in its data collection, analysis and production, but until that day, we have the TIP.
In the report, the US Department of State places each country onto one of four tier rankings determined by each governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in Section 108 of theTrafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The Tier rankings are as such:
- Tier 1: The highest ranking, and generally means the country at hand is in compliance with US standards. It does not, however, mean that a country has no human trafficking problem. On the contrary, a Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, made efforts to address the problem, and complies with the TVPA’s minimum standards. Each year, governments need to demonstrate appreciable progress in combating trafficking to maintain a Tier 1 ranking.
- Tier 2: Countries receive a Tier 2 ranking if they do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to come into compliance with those standards.
- Tier 2 Watch List: Countries receive a Tier 2 WL ranking if their governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but they are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND:
- The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;
- There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or
- The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself 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.
Hilary Clinton was the first to add the US to its own report in 2011. Prior to that, the US did not account for its own domestic trafficking problem.
So now that we have that covered, let us turn to the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report which was released in June. Thailand, a country with many forms of exploitative labour and a clear lack of government initiative to combat it, finally, for the first time ever was demoted from Tier 2 WL to Tier 3. Hallefuckinlujah! Of course this is not great news, but I’ve been waiting for years for Thailand to get this ranking as they are grossly inadequate in making efforts to comply with global standards and after years of being on the ground and reading endless reports about men being shot to death on fishing boats and migrants left at sea to die and stateless individuals being intercepted by Thai officials and trafficked for profit, there is just no way the problem is getting better in the Kingdom. And after years of visiting NGOs and GOs and trying to access what the people in power are doing, it’s clear that a lot of paper is being pushed around desks, but not much more than that. Yes, I’m looking at you UNAIP and TRACORD. So now we’re getting real. Because Thailand just got served. And it fucking deserves it.