PH still in Tier 1 ranking in 2020 US human trafficking report

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For the fifth year, the Philippines retains its Tier 1 ranking in the 2020 United States government’s report on human trafficking.

According to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons report, the Philippine government fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking as it continues to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period.

The points raised in the report on government efforts to eliminate trafficking include:

  • improving the coordination of services for returning Filipino migrant workers who were victims of trafficking overseas
  • convicting and punishing traffickers, including an official complicit in sex trafficking and labor traffickers
  • increasing assistance to survivors who provide testimony
  • increasing the use of prosecution procedures that reduce the potential for further harm to trafficking victims.

 

The United States  also noted that focus on some areas or programs has to be considered by local officials, including failure to vigorously investigate and prosecute officials allegedly involved in trafficking crimes, consistently criminally prosecute fraudulent recruiters and other labor traffickers, or increase support for specialized protection and assistance services for child victims of cyber-facilitated sex trafficking.

“Community reintegration services, including trauma informed care, employment training, and job placement for survivors also remained inadequate,” the US report said.

The following are the recommendations:

Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict complicit officials and labor traffickers

Strengthen the capacity of local government units to provide reintegration services for trafficking survivors, including trauma-informed care, job training, and in country employment.

Establish and implement a process to ensure systematic and ongoing input from a diverse community of survivors on the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of anti-trafficking policies and programs.

Provide increased support to government and NGO programs that provide specialized care for child victims of online sexual exploitation.

Increase resources for anti-trafficking task forces to conduct timely investigations, coordinated operations, and prosecutions while providing robust victim and witness assistance services.

Increase efforts to identify and assist child labor trafficking victims.

Provide increased resources for law enforcement units designated to investigate online child sexual exploitation and other cyber-facilitated trafficking crimes.

Consistently implement the coordinated interagency response to providing services to returning Filipinos who experienced sex and labor trafficking overseas.

Create a central database for information on illegal recruiters and human trafficking cases to facilitate interagency coordination in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting traffickers.

The annual report has four classifications:

Tier 1 (full compliance),

Tier 2 (no full compliance but making significant efforts to comply with standards),

Tier 2 Watchlist (no full compliance and absolute number of victims increasing), and,

Tier 3 (no full compliance, no significant efforts to comply).

The United States has vowed to continue working with the Philippines in the fight against human trafficking as the Philippines kept its Tier 1 ranking in the US Department of State’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report.

“The Philippines was again recognized with a Tier 1 ranking in the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report. The United States will continue to work with the Philippine government and local partners to prevent and protect vulnerable groups from trafficking and other forms of exploitation,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington DC said the ranking shows the Philippines’ seriousness in combating all forms of human trafficking, pointing out that the country has retained its Tier 1 ranking for 5 years.

“For the fifth year in a row, the US has recognized the relentless and comprehensive efforts of the Philippines to prevent TIP, protect the victims, and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” the Philippine Embassy said, adding that the Philippines would continue to promote the welfare and protect the rights of migrant workers.

“We remain fully committed to working with domestic and international partners, including the US, in addressing this global concern. In this context, the Philippines shall continue to engage with both labor-sending but more importantly labor-receiving countries in promoting the welfare and protecting the rights of migrant workers everywhere,” the Philippine Embassy said.

The 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report said the government of the Philippines “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” adding it “continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period,” thus keeping its Tier 1 ranking.

The Report cited improvement in the coordination of services for returning Filipino migrant workers who were victims of trafficking overseas; convicting and punishing traffickers, including an official complicit in sex trafficking and labor traffickers; increasing assistance to survivors who provide testimony; and increasing the use of prosecution procedures that reduce the potential for further harm to trafficking victims.

The report, however, also cited shortcomings, particularly in the prosecution of those involved in human trafficking.

“Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not vigorously investigate and prosecute officials allegedly involved in trafficking crimes, consistently criminally prosecute fraudulent recruiters and other labor traffickers, or increase support for specialized protection and assistance services for child victims of cyber-facilitated sex trafficking,” it said.

Community reintegration services, including trauma-informed care, employment training, and job placement for survivors also remained inadequate,” it said./Stacy Ang

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