Washington, D.C. Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reacted to the State Department’s 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which catalogues abuses of modernday slavery throughout the world.  This year’s report, for the first time in the history of the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act, downgrades China and Russia to Tier 3 status, the lowest category, in which countries may face U.S. sanctions.  In the report, the State Department also downgrades Cambodia, from Tier 2 to a lower tier referred to as “Tier 2 Watch List.”

Chairman Royce said: “The State Department’s TIP Report is a mixed bag.  On the one hand, after I have long called for such action, the State Department today has rightly downgraded some of the world’s worst human trafficking offenders.  This step is long overdue.  Despite this welcome development, other countries known for their egregious human trafficking records, like Vietnam and Laos, have not been downgraded, and Cambodia should be ranked even lower, in Tier 3.  The Cambodian government is clearly complicit.  Pulling punches in tier rankings impedes efforts to curtail trafficking.  Unfortunately, today’s report shows that much work remains to be done to combat this modern-day slavery and offense against human dignity. Twice as many countries were downgraded than were upgraded since last year.” 

The State Department’s annual report monitors 188 countries’ anti-human trafficking efforts.  The report ranks countries from Tier 1 to Tier 3.  Due to limits set by Congress in 2008, the Administration is no longer allowed to “park” countries on the “Tier 2 Watch List” indefinitely.  Now, if countries have not made significant efforts to comply with minimum trafficking standards, they must be downgraded to Tier 3.  Twenty seven country rankings (14% of the total) have worsened since last year.

For years, Royce pressed the Administration to downgrade Cambodia, in 2010 offering legislation condemning the government’s corruption and the role it plays in furthering human trafficking.

NOTE: Last month, Chairman Royce held a Committee hearing to examine innovative local and private sector initiatives to combat human trafficking around the world.