The latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report from the USA was released last week.The report is prepared by the Department of State and provides tier rankings and country narratives.
The TIP Report urges governments to come to the table to fight this global crime. Its efficacy depends on consensus around the idea that everyone has inherent value and human dignity requires that they be free. When traffickers interfere with this freedom, they weaken the foundation of free and just societies.
The report notes that there is a pressing need for governments to:
- end the practice of state-sponsored forced labour
- increase labour trafficking prosecutions
- repeal laws that require force, fraud or coercion for child sex trafficking
- stop penalising victims for unlawful acts that their traffickers force them to commit
Key points from Australia’s narrative are:
- Government of Australia fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking
- Australia is a Tier 1 country
- The government did not adequately screen several vulnerable groups that traffickers target, such as domestic workers and migrant workers, which may have resulted in the penalisation of unidentified victims
Prioritised recommendations for Australia:
- Significantly strengthen efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses pursuant to trafficking laws, with increased focus on pursuing labor trafficking crimes instead of labor or employment violations, and sentence convicted traffickers to significant prison terms.
- Significantly strengthen efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as undocumented migrants, agricultural and hospitality industry workers, and domestic workers, and to refer those victims to appropriate government authorities.
- De-link the provision of services from participation in the criminal justice process and increase services available to victims who are unable or unwilling to participate in the criminal justice process.
- Ensure that the statutory definition of trafficking under the criminal code does not require movement of the victim as an element of the crime.
- Increase efforts to train police, immigration officials, and other front-line officers, both offshore and onshore, to recognize indicators of trafficking and respond to suspected cases of both sex and labor trafficking.
- Establish the National Labour Hire Registration Scheme with sufficient compliance tools.
- Increase training for prosecutors and judges on Australian trafficking laws.
- Conduct initial screening interviews with potential victims in a safe and neutral location and in the presence of a social service professional.
- Consider establishing a national compensation scheme for trafficking victims.
- Implement or fund awareness campaigns, particularly among rural communities and migrant populations, including international students, vulnerable to forced labor.
- Strengthen efforts to prosecute and convict Australian child sex tourists.
- Increase efforts to investigate and hold accountable foreign diplomats posted in Australia suspected of complicity in trafficking.
- Resume publication of the government’s annual assessment of progress implementing its National Action Plan.
How is the report prepared?
The report is prepared by the Department of State’s TIP Office, which requests information from U.S. embassies regarding the profile of human trafficking in that country and efforts of the government to combat it. Foreign service officers and locally employed staff collect information throughout the year related to law enforcement activity, victim identification and protection efforts, and anti-trafficking policies and practices, among others. This information is sent to analysts in the TIP Office who use it, in combination with other sources such as media reports, academic studies, in-country engagement, and information from the public, to inform the TIP Report tier rankings, country narratives, and recommendations.