China’s Gross Complicity in Human Trafficking
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), prime author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386) praised the Trump Administration designation of China as a Tier 3 trafficking offender—the worst ranking possible—in the State Department’s annual 2018 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report mandated by Smith’s law.
“This report makes clear that China’s government is an enabler of human trafficking,” said Smith, who is also the co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. “China is in a race to the bottom on human rights abuses, and with state-sponsored forced labor, the forcible return of escaped trafficking victims, and the attempted criminal extradition of forced labor victims fleeing North Korea, its miserable record on fighting trafficking continues.”
According to Smith, China’s coercive population control policy continues to result in forced abortions and has created a massive gender imbalance, as men outnumber women by nearly 34 million. This has incentivized a market for trafficking in the country.
“This year’s Report sends a clear message to China that they must reform and fight human trafficking,” Smith said.
Smith’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) created the State Department’s Office of Trafficking in Persons, and established the annual TIP Report as a means of documenting the prevalence of human trafficking around the world, and holding foreign countries accountable for enforcing laws against trafficking. Smith’s law also created as other mutually reinforcing policies to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims.
“It is also critical that we stop trafficking of foreign victims at the source,” said Smith. “This year’s report shows sustained efforts in fighting trafficking from Central America, and some progress in Africa.” No country in Central America raised its Tier ranking in the 2018 report, with most remaining on Tier 2 or the Tier 2 Watch List.
While Africa has many countries on the Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3, Ghana, Djibouti, and Mali all increased their tier rankings, and overall victim identification in the region was up 33 percent in 2017; prosecutions also increased.
“Worldwide, we are seeing remarkable progress in efforts to fight human trafficking,” said Smith. This year’s report showed a 45 percent increase in trafficking victim identification worldwide in 2017 to 100,409—an all-time high for victim identification both sex and labor trafficking. “Victim identification is the first step on the road to freedom for enslaved people around the world—we must train ourselves and law enforcement to see the victims.”
“I am proud to say that the United States is leading the world in victim identification and care,” said Smith. According to the report, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assisted almost 1,000 foreign victims identified in the United States in 2017, and the Department of Justice grantees provided victims services to 4,349 new clients, including both U.S. citizens. “This is a record number for victim assistance in the United States—we get better every year at helping victims reclaim their lives.”
In addition to the original 2000 law which provided for the annual reports, Smith wrote subsequent laws reauthorizing the TVPA, including (PL 108-193 and PL 109-164), which provided for greater resources for crime prevention and expanded treatment and assistance for victims. Smith’s law, The International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advance Notification of Traveling Sex Offender, passed both houses of Congress in 2016 and was signed into law as (PL 114-119).
 Under the TIP report tier ranking system, Tier 1 countries fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking; Tier 2 countries do not meet the minimum standards but are making significant effort to do so; Tier 2 Watch List countries do not fully comply with the minimum standards for fighting trafficking, and the absolute number of trafficking victims in these countries is seriously large or increasing, or there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts as compared to the previous year, or the determination that a country is making significant efforts was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.
Tier 3 countries do not meet the standards and are not making significant effort to do so. Along with the embarrassment of being listed on Tier 3, such countries are open to sanctions by the U.S. government.