US human trafficking report to be released tonight
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US human trafficking report to be released tonight

BP blogged on the US human trafficking and migration expert

BP: BP also understands it will be released sometime today. From the previous post.

The Guardian:

Under US law there is a time limit how many years a country can stay on the tier-2 watch list before it is automatically downgraded to tier 3,” said former US trafficking ambassador Mark Lagon, now a professor at Georgetown University.

If the US government determines that Thailand has made improvements it can be raised up, but if it has not, there is no longer an opportunity to have any waivers or delay.”

Lagon said Thailand was at a “critical juncture” with the annual report due to be released within days and the country facing international “moral opprobrium” for receiving the lowest possible ranking.

BP: As blogged in that post:

An upgrade isn’t going to happen. It is more the question whether Thailand can avoid a downgrade, but from the former US trafficking ambassador quoted by The Guardian a further waiver is no longer possible and have not read anything to the contrary. Whether there is some override of the requirements or exceptional circumstances provision where the Secretary of State or someone else can extend the waiver, BP is unsure. However, in the aftermath of the coup, where it is clear that the U.S. is not supportive of the coup, Thailand has few chits left to argue for special favours. The last minute effort by the junta is unlikely to stop this….

BP: At the time, BP wasn’t able to find confirmation of what the former US trafficking ambassador stated, but the State Department report for 2012 has it:

Tier 3

Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

The TVPA lists additional factors to determine whether a country should be on Tier 2 (or Tier 2 Watch List) versus Tier 3. First, the extent to which the country is a country of origin, transit, or destination for severe forms of trafficking. Second, the extent to which the country’s government does not comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards and, in particular, the extent to which officials or government employees have been complicit in severe forms of trafficking. And third, reasonable measures required to bring the government into compliance with the minimum standards in light of the government’s resources and capabilities to address and eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons.

A 2008 amendment to the TVPA provides that any country that has been ranked Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years and that would otherwise be ranked Tier 2 Watch List for the next year will instead be ranked Tier 3 in that third year. This automatic downgrade provision came into effect for the first time in last year’s report. The Secretary of State is authorized to waive the automatic downgrade based on credible evidence that a waiver is justified because the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan. The Secretary can only issue this waiver for two consecutive years. After the third year, a country must either go up to Tier 2, or down to Tier 3. Governments subject to the automatic downgrade provision are noted as such in the country narratives.

Penalties for Tier 3 Countries
Pursuant to the TVPA, governments of countries on Tier 3 may be subject to certain sanctions, whereby the U.S. government may withhold or withdraw nonhumanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance. In addition, countries on Tier 3 may not receive funding for government employees’ participation 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.

Imposed sanctions will take effect upon the beginning of the U.S. Government’s next Fiscal Year—October 1, 2012—however, all or part of the TVPA’s sanctions can be waived if the President determines that the provision of such assistance to the government would promote the purposes of the statute or is otherwise in the United States’ national interest. The TVPA also provides for a waiver of sanctions if necessary to avoid significant adverse effects on vulnerable populations, including women and children.

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

BP: So basically as of 2011 once Thailand reaches its third year, it can either go up or down; it can’t stay in the Tier-2 watch list. We are at that point now. Hence, while you can argue that the situation has not worsened in Thailand since last year, it is difficult to say things have really got better for an upgrade and thus there is an automatic downgrade. This is why it is likely – one could say highly likely given confirmation of the above – Thailand will be downgraded.