What is the Trafficking in Persons Report?

by | Jul 19, 2022

There are an estimated 24.9 million people in human trafficking today. While trafficking can and does happen everywhere, studies show that the majority of victims are concentrated in places where government policies and systems are less effective at enforcing trafficking laws, protecting victims, and preventing traffickers from exploiting people who are vulnerable. Thus, when Congress first passed legislation prioritizing efforts to eradicate trafficking in persons in 2000 through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), it established the Trafficking in Persons Office within the Department of State and gave it a mandate to conduct a yearly assessment to monitor all countries’ efforts to combat human trafficking and provide each country with a grade according to a 3-tier scale. 

The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) is a valuable tool used by the U.S. government, foreign governments, NGOs, and the international community for understanding how countries are responding to trafficking, noting where gaps exist, and providing recommendations to address those gaps and more effectively combat trafficking.

What is the TIP Report?

The TIP Report is published by the Secretary of State in the summer of each year, assessing the efforts of countries and territories in the previous calendar year to combat human trafficking and comply with minimum standards for a government’s responsibility to address trafficking which were established in the TVPA.

The TIP Report is the most comprehensive worldwide report on governments’ efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Based on data and information provided by government agencies, NGOs, and other key stakeholders, the TIP Report represents an annually updated, global assessment of the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it. The report evaluates governments’ concrete actions to meet the minimum standards to combat trafficking during that year and assigns each country with a Tier Ranking – effectively a grade. 

What do the rankings mean?

The TIP Report ranks countries according to three tiers:

  • Tier 1: Countries and territories whose governments fully comply with the minimum standards.
  • Tier 2: Countries and territories whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
  • Tier 2 Watch List: Countries and territories whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, and:
    • a) The estimated number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and the country is not taking proportional concrete actions; or
    • b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year.
  • Tier 3: Countries and territories whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Governments placed on Tier 3 may be subject to restrictions on foreign assistance funding and programs from the United States and have limited access to other international support.

Why does it matter?

The TIP report has often been a very effective tool in the global fight against trafficking in many ways. Because the report assesses the efforts of almost 200 countries worldwide, it helps to benchmark global efforts and understand trends and emerging facts in trafficking, such as the rise in online sexual exploitation, how the global pandemic impacted trafficking, and other issues.

The TIP report is often a very effective tool in diplomacy, with the recommendations often providing concrete action steps for foreign governments to understand and address gaps in their trafficking response. The tier rankings can incentivize governments to take action, both in pursuit of a tier upgrade and in avoidance of the negative impacts of a tier downgrade – including international investment impacts for companies concerned about their supply chains and the potential for loss of certain foreign assistance funding from the United States. 

The report also serves to coordinate the efforts of stakeholders engaged in the response to trafficking and drive action toward identified need areas.  The recommendations themselves are used across the U.S. Government and by other key agencies and groups to inform programming and funding for anti-trafficking initiatives.  

HTI’s Partner Countries and their Progress

This year, both of HTI’s partner countries, Uganda and Belize, received upgraded Tier rankings due to improvements in their work to combat trafficking and keep people safe. Uganda was recognized for allocating significantly more funds to anti-trafficking efforts, investigating and prosecuting more human trafficking crimes, convicting the most human traffickers in a single year, and increasing trainings for investigators and prosecutors. Belize’s efforts to prioritize anti-trafficking funding, increase the size of its Anti-Trafficking in Persons Police Unit, and implement a National Action Plan to combat human trafficking were acknowledged. HTI is proud to have supported our partners in these initiatives and glad to see their efforts and leadership on human trafficking recognized. 

To learn more and read this year’s TIP Report, click here.

To read HTI’s comprehensive report on federal human trafficking prosecutions in the United States that we released last month, click here.

To learn more about our work in our Partner Countries click here.

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