by John Campbell
On Monday, the State department released its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. The study uses a three tier system to rank countries based on compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). More importantly, it includes in-depth evaluations of human trafficking in 184 countries as well as policy recommendations, victims’ stories, and “TIP Report Heroes.”
The Guardian (UK) produced a useful interactive map showing each country’s ranking, which clearly illustrates that human trafficking continues to be a serious problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Eight African countries received tier three rankings—meaning they do not comply with the TVPA standards, make no effort to address the problem, and, as per the TVPA, are subject to U.S. sanctions.
Only one country—Nigeria—received a tier one ranking, which indicates it meets the minimum TVPA standards. However, the report says that Nigeria is not doing enough to address the magnitude of the problem. For example, the report notes that the Nigerian agency responsible for dealing with trafficking, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters, despite identifying between twenty and forty thousand Nigerian women forced into prostitution in Mali, has not yet engaged Malian officials to rescue the victims and arrest the traffickers.
In contrast, the Democratic Republic of Congo received a tier three ranking. The report notes that much of the trafficking is internal and cites that armed groups outside the control of the central government as well as the Congolese national army (FARDC) use forced labor for mineral extraction and military operations.
As a result, the first recommendation in the report for Congo focuses on prosecuting the military and other official’s involvement in human trafficking, which highlights the importance of reforming Congo’s security services.
South Africa, a middle-income country, received a tier two ranking, below Nigeria’s. This ranking means that it does not fully comply with TVPA minimum standards but is making significant efforts to address these issues. The report emphasizes heavily the issue of sex trafficking, both into and out of South Africa. As Secretary Clinton points out in a recent statement, human trafficking disproportionately affects women, which makes combating this global challenge particularly salient in South Africa.