Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 4, 2008

The victims’ testimonies included in the Report are meant to be representative only and do not include all forms of trafficking that occur. Any of these stories could unfortunately take place almost anywhere in the world. They are provided to illustrate the many forms of trafficking and the wide variety of places in which they occur. No country is immune. All names of victims that appear in this Report are fictional. The photographs on this Report’s cover and most uncaptioned photographs in the Report are not images of confirmed trafficking victims, but are provided to show the myriad forms of exploitation that help define trafficking and the variety of cultures in which trafficking victims are found.


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Lila, a 19-year-old Romanian girl who had already endured physical and sexual abuse from her alcoholic father, was introduced by an “acquaintance” to a man who offered her a job as a housekeeper/salesperson in the U.K. When she arrived in the U.K., the man sold her to a pimp and Lila was forced into prostitution. She was threatened that she would be sent home in pieces if she did not follow every order. After an attempted escape, her papers were confiscated and the beatings became more frequent and brutal. Months later, after being retrafficked several times, Lila was freed in a police raid. She was eventually repatriated back to Romania where, after two months, she fled from a shelter where she had been staying. Her whereabouts are unknown.

The Department of State is required by law to submit a Report each year to the U.S. Congress on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons. This Report is the eighth annual TIP Report. It is intended to raise global awareness, to highlight efforts of the international community, and to encourage foreign governments to take effective actions to counter all forms of trafficking in persons.

The U.S. law that guides anti-human trafficking efforts, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended (TVPA), states that the purpose of combating human trafficking is to punish traffickers, to protect victims, and to prevent trafficking from occurring. Freeing those trapped in slave-like conditions is the ultimate goal of this Report—and of the U.S. Government’s antihuman trafficking policy.

Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat. It deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, it increases global health risks, and it fuels the growth of organized crime.

Human trafficking has a devastating impact on individual victims, who often suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, and even death. But the impact of human trafficking goes beyond individual victims; it undermines the health, safety, and security of all nations it touches.

There is an ever-growing community of nations making significant efforts to eliminate this atrocious crime. A country that fails to make significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons, as outlined in the TVPA, receives a “Tier 3” assessment in this Report. Such an assessment could trigger the withholding by the United States of nonhumanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance. In assessing foreign governments’ efforts, the TIP Report highlights the “three P’s”—prosecution, protection, and prevention. But a victim-centered approach to trafficking requires us also to address the “three R’s”—rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration— and to encourage learning and sharing of best practices in these areas. We must go beyond an initial rescue of victims and restore to them dignity and the hope of productive lives.

Human Trafficking Defined

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Mexico/United States

Thirty-two year old “Sandro,” from the interior of Mexico, found himself in a migrant shelter in Tijuana. A recruiter approached him in the shelter and urged him to come to the U.S.-Mexico border to “take a look.” As they neared the border, the recruiter (knowledgeable of the shift change in the border patrol), pushed him over the border and instructed him to “run.” Sandro was guided by Mexican traffickers to a “safe house” where he was tied to a bed and raped about 20 times. He was then transported, at gun point, to another “safe” house in San Diego and forced into domestic servitude. Eventually, he was taken to a construction site during the day. His pay check was confiscated by his traffickers. He felt he had no recourse since he lacked even basic identification papers. His abuse continued when one of his traffickers forced him at gunpoint to perform sexual acts. He was later rescued and has since received temporary residency in the United States.

The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking” as:

a. sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or

b. the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another in order for the crime to fall within these definitions.

The Scope and Nature of Modern-Day Slavery
The common denominator of trafficking scenarios is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for profit. A victim can be subjected to labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, or both. Labor exploitation includes traditional chattel slavery, forced labor, and debt bondage. Sexual exploitation typically includes abuse within the commercial sex industry. In other cases, victims are exploited in private homes by individuals who often demand sex as well as work. The use of force or coercion can be direct and violent or psychological.

A wide range of estimates exists on the scope and magnitude of modern-day slavery. The International Labor Organization (ILO)—the United Nations agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issues—estimates that there are 12.3 million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time; other estimates range from 4 million to 27 million.

Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries. Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The majority of transnational victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. These numbers do not include millions of female and male victims around the world who are trafficked within their own national borders—the majority for forced or bonded labor.

Human traffickers prey on the vulnerable. Their targets are often children and young women, and their ploys are creative and ruthless, designed to trick, coerce, and win the confidence of potential victims. Very often these ruses involve promises of a better life through employment, educational opportunities, or marriage.

The nationalities of trafficked people are as diverse as the world’s cultures. Some leave developing countries, seeking to improve their lives through low-skilled jobs in more prosperous countries. Others fall victim to forced or bonded labor in their own countries. Women, eager for a better future, are susceptible to promises of jobs abroad as babysitters, housekeepers, waitresses, or models—jobs that traffickers turn into the nightmare of forced prostitution without exit. Some families give children to adults, often relatives, who promise education and opportunity—but sell the children into exploitative situations for money. But poverty alone does not explain this tragedy, which is driven by fraudulent recruiters, employers, and corrupt officials who seek to reap unlawful profits from others’ desperation.

Focus of the 2008 TIP Report

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A man at a local train station offered 16-year old Shen, from a small Chinese farming community, a well-paying job in a nearby city which he eagerly accepted. Within hours, he and 12 others were bundled into a minivan and dumped at a brick yard where they were beaten, barely fed, and forced to perform heavy labor for 20 hours per day. Guards at the kiln would beat them with iron bars and wooden staves when they worked too slowly, at times smashing brick across a worker’s head or body. Guard dogs kept Shen and the other slaves living in fear. Shen often saw local uniformed police officers visit the brickyard. “They were paid off by the owner. The whole village was his,” Shen said. “It was very ‘black’,” he said, using the Chinese term for evil or corrupt.

The TIP Report is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons. This Report covers the period of April 2007 through March 2008. It includes those countries that have been determined to be countries of origin, transit, or destination for a significant number of victims of severe forms of trafficking. The 2008 TIP Report rep resents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of modern-day slavery and the broad range of actions being taken by governments around the world to confront and eliminate it.

Because trafficking likely extends to every country in the world, the omission of a country from the Report may only indicate a lack of adequate information. The country narratives describe the scope and nature of the trafficking problem, the reasons for including the country, and the government’s efforts to combat trafficking. each narrative also contains an assessment of the government’s compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking as laid out in the TVPA, and includes suggestions for additional actions to combat trafficking on the part of a country’s government. The remainder of the country narrative describes each government’s efforts to enforce laws against trafficking, protect victims, and prevent trafficking. each narrative explains the basis for rating a country as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, or Tier 3. All rankings are accompanied by an explanation, but in particular, if a country has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List, the narrative will contain a statement of explanation, using the special criteria found in the TVPA.

The TVPA lists three factors to be considered in determining whether a country should be in Tier 2 (or Tier 2 Watch List) or in Tier 3: (1) The extent to which the country is a country of origin, transit, or destination for severe forms of trafficking; (2) The extent to which the government of the country does not comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards including, in particular, the extent of the government’s trafficking-related corruption; and (3) The resources and capabilities of the government to address and eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons.

Some countries have held conferences and established task forces or national action plans to create goals for anti-trafficking efforts. While such activities are useful and can help to catalyze concrete law enforcement, protection, and prevention activities in the future, these conferences, plans, and task forces alone are not weighed heavily in assessing country efforts. Rather, the Report focuses on concrete actions governments have taken to fight trafficking, especially prosecutions, convictions, and prison sentences for traffickers, victim protection measures, and prevention efforts. The Report does not give great weight to laws in draft form or laws that have not yet been enacted. Finally, the Report does not focus on government efforts that contribute indirectly to reducing trafficking, such as education programs, support for economic development, or programs aimed at enhancing gender equality, although these are worthwhile endeavors.


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Ten year-old Shanti from Ajmer, Rajasthan was trafficked to New Delhi, with seven children from her village, when she was seven years old. She was forced to beg from eight in the morning until 11 in the evening, to tear her clothes and to avoid bathing for months. She was given only one meal a day so that she would look thin and malnourished and elicit more money from the passers-by. She and 12 other children showing signs of physical abuse were rescued in a raid. The children had been beaten and were given a kind of tobacco named ‘gul’ to numb their senses while experiencing harsh conditions.

The Department of State prepared this Report using information from U.S. embassies, foreign government officials, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations, published reports, research trips to every region, and information submitted to This email address was established for NGOs and individuals to share information on government progress in addressing trafficking. U.S. diplomatic posts reported on the trafficking situation and governmental action based on thorough research, including meetings with a wide variety of government officials, local and international NGO representatives, officials of international organizations, journalists, academics, and survivors. To compile this year’s Report, the Department took a fresh look at information sources on every country to make its assessments. Assessing each government’s anti-trafficking efforts involves a two-step process:

Step one: Finding Significant Numbers of victims
First, the Department determines whether a country is “a country of origin, transit, or destination for a significant number of victims of severe forms of trafficking,” generally on the order of 100 or more victims, the same threshold applied in previous reports. Some countries, for which such information was not available, are not given tier ratings, but are included in the Special Case section because they exhibited indications of trafficking.

Step Two: Tier Placement
The Department places each country included on the 2008 TIP Report into one of the three lists, described here as tiers, mandated by the TVPA. This placement is based more on the extent of government action to combat trafficking, rather than the size of the problem, important though that is. The Department first evaluates whether the government fully complies with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking (detailed on p. 284). Governments that fully comply are placed in Tier 1. For other governments, the Department considers whether they are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. governments that are making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards are placed in Tier 2. Governments that do not fully com ply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so are placed in Tier 3. Finally, the Special Watch List criteria are considered and, when applicable, Tier 2 countries are placed on the Tier 2 Watch List.

The Special Watch List— Tier 2 Watch List

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“It’s like I’m out of hell,” proclaimed Indonesian worker Arum after his experience in Malaysia. He spent seven months on a rubber plantation working 13 hours a day, seven days a week without pay, until he escaped – only to be arrested, imprisoned, flogged, and deported.

The TVPA created a “Special Watch List” of countries on the TIP Report that should receive special scrutiny. The list is composed of: 1) Countries listed as Tier 1 in the current Report that were listed as Tier 2 in the 2007 Report; 2) Countries listed as Tier 2 in the current Report that were listed as Tier 3 in the 2007 Report; and, 3) Countries listed as Tier 2 in the current Report, where:

a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;

b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes, increased assistance to victims, and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials; or

c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.

This third category (including a, b, and c) has been termed by the Department of State “Tier 2 Watch List.” There were 32 countries placed on Tier 2 Watch List in the June 2007 Report. Along with two countries that were reassessed as Tier 2 Watch List countries in October 2007, and seven countries that met the first two categories above (moving up a tier from the 2007 to the 2008 TIP Report), these 41 countries were included in an “Interim Assessment” released by the Department of State on February 28, 2008.

Of the 34 countries on Tier 2 Watch List at the time of the Interim Assessment, 11 moved up to Tier 2 on this Report, while four fell to Tier 3 and 19 remain on Tier 2 Watch List. Countries placed on the Special Watch List in this Report will be reexamined in an interim assessment to be submitted to the U.S. Congress by February 1, 2009.

Potential Penalties for Tier 3 Countries

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Indonesia/United States

Mala and Kamala, came to the United States to work as domestic servants for an American family on Long Island, New York. They accepted this offer of work in a far-away country in hopes of improving the livelihood of their families back in rural Indonesia. Instead, what they encountered in an affluent community of suburban New York City was a form of modern-day slavery. The two domestic workers were subjected to beatings, threats, and confinement until, after years, they sought help and were relieved of their suffering. Their exploiters were tried and convicted on multiple criminal charges, including forced labor and “document servitude” (withholding a person’s travel documents as a means to induce them into labor or service), for which sentencing is pending.

Governments of countries in Tier 3 may be subject to certain sanctions. The U.S. Government may withhold non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance. Countries that receive no such assistance would be subject to withholding of funding for participation by officials and employees of such governments in educational and cultural exchange programs. Consistent with the TVPA, governments subject to sanctions would also face U.S. opposition to assistance (except for humanitarian, trade-related, and certain development- related assistance) from international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Sanctions, if imposed, will take effect October 1, 2008.

All or part of the TVPA’s sanctions can be waived upon a determination by the President that the provision of such assistance to the government would promote the purposes of the statute or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States. The TVPA also provides that sanctions can be waived if necessary to avoid significant adverse effects on vulnerable populations, including women and children. Sanctions would not apply if the President finds that, after this Report is issued but before sanctions determinations are made, a government has come into compliance with the minimum standards or is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance.

Regardless of tier placement, every country can do more, including the United States. No country placement is permanent. All countries must maintain and increase efforts to combat trafficking.

How the Report Is Used
This Report is a diplomatic tool for the U.S. Government to use as an instrument for continued dialogue and encouragement and as a guide to help focus resources on prosecution, protection, and prevention programs and policies. Specific recommendations highlighted in the narrative of each ranked country are provided to facilitate future progress. The State Department will continue to engage governments about the content of the Report in order to strengthen cooperative efforts to eradicate trafficking. In the coming year, and particularly in the months before a determination is made regarding sanctions for Tier 3 countries, the Department will use the information gathered here to more effectively target assistance programs and to work with countries that need help in combating trafficking. The Department hopes the Report will be a catalyst for government and non-government efforts to combat trafficking in persons around the world.

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