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Friday, November 5, 2010

Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress

Liana Sun Wyler
Analyst in International Crime and Narcotics

Alison Siskin
Specialist in Immigration Policy

Trafficking in persons (TIP) for the purposes of exploitation is believed to be one of the most prolific areas of international criminal activity and is of significant concern to the United States and the international community. According to Department of State estimates, roughly 800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year. If trafficking within countries is included in the total world figures, official U.S. estimates indicate that some 2 to 4 million people are trafficked annually. As many as 17,500 people are believed to be trafficked to the United States each year.

Since enactment of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA, P.L. 106-386), the Administration and Congress have aimed to address TIP by authorizing new programs and reauthorizing existing ones, appropriating funds, and conducting oversight on the effectiveness and implications of U.S. anti-TIP policy. Most recently, the TVPA was reauthorized through FY2011 in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-457). Obligations for global and domestic anti-TIP programs, not including operations and law enforcement investigations, totaled approximately $103.5 million in FY2009.

The second session of the 111
th Congress has continued to exercise its oversight of TIP programs and operations. Several bills related to combating various aspects of TIP have been introduced. Among those that have received congressional action (besides appropriations) are the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010 (S. 2925); International Megan’s Law of 2010 (H.R. 5138); the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410 and S. 2971); and the Child Protection Compact Act of 2010 (S. 3184). Activity on combating TIP will likely continue into the 112th Congress, particularly related to efforts to reauthorize appropriations for anti-TIP programs. Ongoing policy issues include how to measure the effectiveness of the U.S. and international responses to TIP, including the State Department’s annual TIP rankings; the use of unilateral sanctions; and how to balance border control and law enforcement efforts against TIP perpetrators with victim prevention and rehabilitation efforts. Other issues are whether to include all forms of prostitution in the global definition of TIP, and whether sufficient efforts are applied to addressing all forms of TIP, including not only sexual exploitation, but also forced labor and child soldiers.

On June 14, 2010, the State Department issued its 10
th annual, congressionally mandated report on human trafficking. In addition to outlining major trends and ongoing challenges in combating TIP, the report provides a country-by-country analysis and ranking, based on what progress foreign countries have made in their efforts to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and prevent TIP. The report categorizes countries into four “tiers” according to the government’s efforts to combat trafficking. Those countries that do not cooperate in the fight against trafficking (Tier 3) may be subject to U.S. foreign assistance sanctions. On September 13, 2010, President Barack Obama determined that two Tier 3 countries will be sanctioned for FY2011 without exemption (Eritrea and North Korea). In addition, he determined that four Tier 3 countries will be partially sanctioned (Burma, Cuba, Iran, and Zimbabwe).

The 2010 TIP report also included for the first time, pursuant to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA, Title IV of P.L. 110-457), a list of six countries that recruit, use, or harbor child soldiers. Inclusion on this list subjects these countries to possible U.S. assistance sanctions. On October 25, 2010, President Obama waived sanctions for four of the six countries (Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], Sudan, and Yemen). The other two, Burma and Somalia, are subject to sanction pursuant to the CSPA.

Date of Report: October 29, 2010
Number of Pages: 63
Order Number: RL34317
Price: $29.95

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