In 2000, the United States’ State Department decided it was time to take substantial action to fight human trafficking in all forms. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 established guidelines and anti-trafficking policies to “(1) prevent trafficking, (2) protect trafficking victims, and (3) prosecute and punish traffickers” in a subsection known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Within this Act, Congress recognized the prevalence of trafficking in the US and worldwide, committed to addressing the evil of human trafficking, and called other countries to do the same. A part of the foreign policy laid forth in the TVPA required the Secretary of State to publish an annual report to rank various countries on their anti trafficking policies and efforts to eradicate the problem. Hence, the Trafficking in Persons Report was established.
So what exactly is the Trafficking in Persons Report?
As laid out in the TVPA, the report describes each country included and their government’s efforts to eliminate the severe forms of trafficking, the nature and scope of trafficking, and trends in their efforts to combat trafficking in their respective country.* Once reviewed, the country is given a ranking:
- Tier 1: fully compliant with the minimum standards for elimination of severe forms of trafficking in persons.
- Tier 2: not fully compliant, but making “significant efforts” to be compliant with the minimum standards.
- Tier 2 Watch List (created in 2004): as determined by the Secretary of State to “require special scrutiny during the following year” (expanded on below).
- Tier 3: not fully compliant and not making “significant efforts” to be compliant with the minimum standards.*
The report emphasizes that receiving a Tier 1 ranking does NOT imply there is no trafficking in that country, but rather that the country is working to address and eliminate the problem to the standards of the US Department of State and in compliance with the TVPA. Additionally in 2008, the Child Soldiers Prevention Act required the TIP Report to include a specific list of countries that recruit or use child soldiers in their armed forces, police, or other security forces.*
Other requirements of the report include:
- information on how international, multilateral organizations are working to prevent their employees, peacekeepers, and other staff from participating in human trafficking of any form
- data on changing patterns of international human trafficking
- information on emerging issues in human trafficking
- information on practices to eradicate human trafficking that are proven promising
How does the Trafficking in Persons Report Help Fight Trafficking?
The TIP Report works to shed light on the problem of human trafficking around the world, while providing a tangible system to assess the work being done to eradicate it. Though there are some criticisms to its effectiveness and consistency, the TIP Report shows how the fight against human trafficking has become a priority for many leaders throughout the world. It incentivizes countries to take action to eradicate trafficking by going after traffickers, protecting the vulnerable and survivors, and preventing future acts of this horrendous crime.
Data from TIP Report
Number of Countries per Tier 2011-2020
Distribution of Tiers Across Regions in 2021
Proportion of countries who have improved, decreased, or stayed consistent in rank
All data relayed in the preceding images is from TIP Reports 2011-2021 and meant for visual purposes.
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To request a hard copy of the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report, please email TIPOutreach@state.gov and provide your mailing address.
The full report can be accessed by clicking here.