Clinton Says State Dept. Human Trafficking Report Will Pass Judgment on U.S. As If America Were Just Another Foreign Country

By Penny Starr | July 14, 2009 | 12:36 AM EDT

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ( photo/Penny Starr)

( - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the State Department will pass judgment on the United States in the same way it judges foreign countries when the department issues its next annual report on victims of global human trafficking.
Each year the State Department issues a “Trafficking in Persons” report that assesses the performance of foreign countries in combating human trafficking.  The report, which is mandated by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, ranks foreign nations in four “tiers,” depending on how well they combat trafficking in persons.
Nations judged to be in the worst tier are potentially subject to sanctions by the U.S. government.
At a “town hall meeting” with State Department employees on Friday, Secretary Clinton said that when the department does its report for 2010, it will judge the performance of the U.S. government in combating human trafficking and give it a rank in the “tiers” that apply to foreign countries.
She said she believes this will increase U.S. “credibility.”
Mrs. Clinton’s revelation that the State Department would do this came in response to a question submitted by a town hall participant named Tommye Grant.
“Border security is a top priority, yet I am not sure how State fits into the overall plan to combat illegal trafficking in drugs, humans, and the travel of terrorists,” said Grant. “What are we doing now, and what are our plans in the future?”
“Well, we’re doing a lot, and I would hope that--was it Tommye? I hope that Tommye would get a copy of our TIPs report, the Trafficking in Persons Report that has just come out, which is the definitive analysis of what’s happening with the trafficking of persons around the world,” said Clinton.
“I think that report is a very critical part of our role in trying to raise standards and protect human rights,” Clinton continued. “But I have said that next year we’re going to include ourselves. I want us to start looking at the United States for every report we do, because I happen to think we’ll end up being a Tier 1 country, but I don’t think--I think we will have more credibility if we start looking at the United States while we criticize other countries as well.”
Clinton’s answer here was interrupted by applause from the State Department employees listening to her presentation live in the department’s Dean Acheson Auditorium.
The State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) report ranks foreign countries as “Tier 1,” “Tier 2,” “Tier 2 Watch List,” or “Tier 3,” depending on the country’s compliance with criteria cited in the law mandating that the State Department compile the report.
Tier 1 ranking goes to countries that fully comply with the U.S. law’s standards for fighting human trafficking.  Tier 2 is for countries whose compliance falls short of meeting the standards but is nonetheless trying to achieve them.  The Tier 2 Watch List is for countries that could fall into Tier 3.  And Tier 3 is for countries that are not complying with U.S. standards for fighting human trafficking and are not trying to do so.
Nations listed in Tier 3 by the State Department can be subject to U.S. sanctions, including suspension of non-humanitarian aid.
The original act directing the State Department to issue the annual TIPs report was signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000.
It specifically directs the State Department to judge the performance of “foreign” countries in combatting human trafficking. It does not direct the State Department to judge the performance of the United States.

A State Department official confirmed to that Clinton wants to add the United States to the report’s tier rankings in 2010.

“The implication from the Secretary is that she would like to see us ranked in the annual report,” the official said.

He also said that the while including the United States among the foreign nations ranked in the report would be new, the State Department has included information about human trafficking in the United States in past reports.
“We do include ourselves actually in the human trafficking report,” the official told “I can’t give you the exact report with which we started, but just like other countries in the report, we do include in there a narrative on the United States that looks just like all the other narratives that includes prevention, prosecution, protection, as well as recommendations of how we can do better.
“However, it doesn’t give a tier ranking,” the official said. “In the past, that’s been because per the law that Congress set forth as well as the traditional mandate of the State Department, they are still looking at foreign governments’ efforts.
Section 104 of the law, which has been reauthorized and slightly altered by Congress in 2003, 2005 and 2008, directs the State Department to issue an annual report on human trafficking that “shall include the following: (A) A description of the nature and extent of severe forms of trafficking in persons, as defined in section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, in each foreign country.”
The law directs the State Department to look at foreign countries where trafficking is a significant problem and make “an assessment of the efforts by the government of that country to combat such trafficking.”
The law specifically requires the State Department to make judgments about the concrete efforts, good will and integrity of the governments it examines in the report.
The laws says, for example, that this judgment shall look at whether “government authorities in that country participate in, facilitate, or condone such trafficking,” and what “steps the government of that country has taken to prohibit government officials from participating in, facilitating, or condoning such trafficking, including the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of such officials.”
In making its assessments about countries, the law directs that “United States diplomatic mission personnel shall consult with human rights organizations and other appropriate non-governmental organizations.”