Last week the State Department released the 2015 Trafficking in Person Report. The report, that grades all countries under four levels, is a result of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The report tracks human trafficking of all ages both through forced labor and sex trafficking. The United States assessed itself as a Tier I country which is the top (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2-Watch List and Tier 3).

The report found that both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals are victims of sex trafficking and forced labor and that the trafficking occurs in both legal and illicit business including commercial sex, hospitality, sales crews, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, shipyards, restaurants, health and elder care, salon services, fairs and carnivals, peddling and begging, and domestic service. According to the report the most vulnerable populations included:

“children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; runaway and homeless youth; children working in agriculture; American Indians and Alaska Natives; migrant laborers; foreign national domestic workers in diplomatic households; employees of businesses in ethnic communities; populations with limited English proficiency; persons with disabilities; rural populations; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. “

Among the recommendations for improvement in the United States the report offered:

*        Encourage the adoption of victim-centered policies at the state and local levels that ensure victims, including children, are not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of trafficking;

  • Support housing for child trafficking victims that ensures their physical and mental health and safety;
  • Increase screening to identify trafficked persons among at-risk youth, detained individuals, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations;
  • Vigorously prosecute labor trafficking;
  • Seek input from survivors to improve training, programs, and policies;
  • Ensure that criminal restitution is sought for trafficking victims;
  • Strengthen prevention efforts, including addressing the demand for commercial sex;
  • Engage in culturally based efforts to strengthen coordination among criminal justice and social service systems on behalf of Native American trafficking victims;
  • Increase training, including in the U.S. insular areas, on indicators of human trafficking and the victim centered approach for criminal and juvenile justice officials, family court officials, labor inspectors, consular officers, social service and child welfare entities, and first responders;
  • Support new research on trafficking as it relates to diplomats, military personnel, peacekeepers, and other forms of official complicity.

To view the briefing and to read the remarks of Secretary of State Kerry go here.