Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of America’s landmark human trafficking law, called the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released June 20 by the Trump Administration “honest, tough, comprehensive—a game-changer.”

Each year, pursuant to Smith’s law—the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (P.L. 106-386)—the State Department assesses every country’s record on sex and labor trafficking, and focuses on prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, and prosecution of traffickers.

“In the dark world of human trafficking women and girls are reduced to mere commodities for sale,” said Smith. “Their lives are ruined often through repeated sexual exploitation and violence, forced by intimidation and threats of traffickers. Childhoods are swept away in trauma that lasts a lifetime. Human trafficking is a travesty in a modern world. We hope that the TIP report released today gives the hope of freedom for victims and justice to traffickers.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released the report at the State Department today in a room filled with anti-trafficking workers from both government and anti-trafficking individuals and organizations. Smith, as well as the head of the TIP Office Ambassador at-Large John Cotton Richmond and other leaders were in attendance for the event. The White House was represented by Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump. Pompeo said the U.S. would press nations around the world to fight trafficking in their countries, or face world scrutiny through the TIP report, and possible U.S sanctions. Click here to view the new 2019 report.

“If you don’t stand up to trafficking, America will stand up to you,” Pompeo said. In order to fight for the freedom of every trafficking victim, and justice for every trafficker, “We must remain steadfast.”

As it did in the 2018 report, the government of China scores the lowest tier rating, Tier 3. Smith, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the top Republican on the Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC), chaired hearings that examined trafficking conditions cited in the TIP Report. Chinese slave labor also harms the U.S. economy. The U.S. Labor Department in recent years expanded its list of goods made with forced or child labor in China—including in the sectors of artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, cotton, electronics, footwear, garments, nails, textiles and toys.

“Once again China is in a race to the bottom of the list of human rights offenders with the worst violators around the world, including Cuba, North Korea, Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are all among the 22 countries on this year’s Tier 3 list,” Smith said. “It’s record on human trafficking is abysmal, and the cost in human suffering is staggering.

Smith noted that the TIP report recognized the Chinese government’s coercive population control program, which includes forced abortion and forced sterilization, and a cultural preference for sons created a skewed sex ratio of 117 boys to 100 girls in China, which drives the demand for prostitution and foreign women as brides, both of which may be procured by force or coercion.

“It couldn’t be more clear,” Smith said, “that the tens of millions of missing daughters of China that have been systematically killed through sex-selection abortion is a principal cause of sex trafficking in China.”

Smith is the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which created the Office of Trafficking in Persons and instituted the annual TIP Report, as well as other mutually reinforcing policies to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims. He has held hundreds of hearings on human rights issues.

According to the International Labour Organization:

· At any given time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.

· there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.

· 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.

· Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labor imposed by state authorities.

· Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labor, accounting for 99 percent of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58 percent in other sectors

Under the TIP report, Tier 1 countries fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. Tier 2 countries do not meet the minimum standards but are making significant effort to do so. Tier 2 Watch List countries do not fully comply with the minimum standards and the absolute number of victims is severe or increasing, or there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts as compared to the previous year, or the determination that a country is making significant efforts was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year. Tier 3 countries do not meet the standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Along with the embarrassment of being listed on Tier 3, such countries are open to sanction by the U.S. government.

Tier 3 countries are subject to potential sanctions that include the United States using its voice and vote to deny such countries loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multi-lateral banks, and barring non-humanitarian, non-trade related foreign assistance, as well as certain educational and cultural exchange programs.