PH improves in US human trafficking report
The Philippines improved its status in the 2016 US Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report released Friday, the American government’s “principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.”
The said report, which rated around 190 nations according to their efficiency in handling human trafficking, placed the Philippines as a Tier 1 country like the US and Germany, up from its Tier 2 status in the past year.
Tier 1 countries met minimum US standards, which means a government “fully complied” with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Tier 2 nations do not fully comply but are “making significant efforts” to do so, while Tier 2 Watch List involves other negative indicators. Nations under Tier 3 neither comply nor make significant efforts.
However, the report said sex trafficking of men, women and children was still a “significant problem” in the Philippines.
“Women and children from indigenous families and remote areas of the Philippines are most vulnerable to sex trafficking and some are vulnerable to domestic servitude and other forms of forced labor. Men are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in the agricultural, fishing, and maritime industries. Many people from impoverished families and conflict-areas in Mindanao, undocumented returnees, and internally displaced persons in typhoon-stricken communities are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, forced labor in small factories, and sex trafficking in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, central and northern Luzon, and urbanized areas in Mindanao,” the report read.
“Officials, including those in diplomatic missions, law enforcement agencies, and other government entities, allegedly have been complicit in trafficking or allowed traffickers to operate with impunity. Some corrupt officials, particularly those working in immigration, allegedly accept bribes to facilitate illegal departures for overseas workers, reduce trafficking charges, or overlook unscrupulous labor recruiters,” it added.
The same report recommended to “increase the availability of shelter and protection resources address the specific needs of trafficking victims, with a particular focus on male victims and mental health provisions; develop and implement programs aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts, including child sex tourism and online child sexual exploitation.”
The 2016 report downgraded Myanmar, Sudan Haiti, and Uzbekistan as worst human trafficking offenders, and removed Thailand, a longtime US ally, from the blacklist.
In a statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was “nothing inevitable” about human trafficking.
“That conviction is where the process of change really begins—with the realization that just because a certain abuse has taken place in the past doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate that abuse in the future or that we can afford to avert our eyes. Instead, we should be asking ourselves—what if that victim of trafficking was my daughter, son, sister, or brother?” Kerry said.
The TIP report describes itself as “the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the US Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said he welcomes the TIP report’s “recognition of the Philippines’ efforts to combat trafficking particularly in the areas of increased convictions; expanded anti-trafficking prevention campaigns for migrant workers; and increased prosecution to avoid child sex tourism.”
The embassy, in a statement, said the Philippine government regularly met with the US State Department’s bureau on human trafficking to share its efforts in battling human trafficking. Some of the measures employed were expanded training and “awareness events” for government officials and the general public and “increased convictions of those complicit in trafficking.”
“The Embassy will continue its engagement with the US State Department to ensure that the Philippines’ efforts to combat this scourge are accurately reported and considered by the State Department,” Cuisia said.
He said the Philippines aims to keep its Tier 1 ranking “to ensure that the estimated 10 million Filipino workers overseas are protected from unscrupulous practices.” RAM/rga
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