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International Justice Mission Calls on Lawmakers to Protect U.S.-Led Programs to End Trafficking

International Justice Mission (IJM) welcomes the release of the annual U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and commends the experts who produced it. The Report is a key element of U.S. diplomacy aimed at deterring and reducing trafficking and slavery around the world.

The TIP Report’s candid evaluation of gaps in protection and justice for trafficking victims and recommendations for improvement have helped accelerate progress in many of the countries where IJM has field offices that collaborate with local officials to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of slavery and trafficking. "The TIP Report has enormous power to transform a country’s response to human trafficking," said Christa Hayden Sharpe, IJM’s Regional President for Asia Pacific. "After receiving a low ranking in the TIP Report, the Philippines acted with urgency to combat the crime in its more prevalent forms. Now, years later, the Philippines’ ranking has rightfully risen to the highest tier."

The TIP Report places 187 countries in tiers that reflect their degree of government will and capacity to deter and reduce trafficking and slavery. The value of the TIP Report as a diplomatic tool is directly related to both the quality of the countries reports and the scrupulousness of the process of assigning tier rankings. Politicization of the process can result in inflating or deflating rankings that are not based on a factual analysis of a country’s anti-slavery policy and enforcement.

In the past year, the Trump Administration has sharply reduced foreign assistance to several of the poorest countries in the world. U.S. law (Trafficking Victims Protection Act) authorizes sanctions against Tier 3 countries, but only "nonhumanitarian, nontrade-related foreign assistance" to governments are to be cut. Nonetheless, humanitarian groups have reported that virtually all foreign assistance has been stopped on anti-trafficking grounds. IJM senior advisor Holly Burkhalter stated, "Depriving poor countries of humanitarian assistance was never envisioned by Congress when it wrote and enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and could, in fact, exacerbate conditions that make people vulnerable to trafficking in the first place. IJM urges the executive branch to maintain humanitarian and development assistance in Tier 3 countries."

During remarks given for the 2019 TIP Report release, TIP Ambassador John Richmond noted that human trafficking is against the law everywhere, establishing "a grand consensus that trafficking is wrong." Richmond went on to note that strong laws are insufficient to end the crime saying, "Parchment promises of protection have to be put into action if the millions of global victims around the world are to obtain relief."

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