[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 65 (Friday, May 2, 2014)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E671-E672]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                       HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                          Friday, May 2, 2014

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, I held a 
hearing on the power of holding countries accountable in the annual 
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, including its tier rankings, for 
government successes or failures in the fight against human 
   Experts have observed that there are more slaves in the world today 
than at any previous point of human history. With the Trafficking in 
Persons Report and tier rankings, the United States is also ensuring 
more accountability and progress than ever before in the fight to rid 
the world of slavery.
   Many of those who attended the hearing have been in this fight for 
more than a decade from the year 2000 when a law I authored--the 
Trafficking Victims' Protection Act (TPVA)--created a comprehensive 
policy that not only established the Office to Monitor and Combat 
Trafficking in Persons at the Department of State, but also the annual 
Trafficking in Persons Report.
   The success of the TIP Report and rankings is beyond anything we 
could have hoped for at the time. From presidential suites to the halls 
of parliaments to law enforcement assets and police stations in remote 
corners of the world, this report focuses anti-trafficking work in 187 
countries on the pivotal goals of prevention, prosecution, and 
   Much of the praise for the success of the TIP Report is due to the 
incredibly effective Ambassadors-at-Large who have led the Office to 
Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) and their highly 
dedicated staff. Ambassador Mark Lagon is one of them and he testified 
at our hearing this week.
   Each year, the trafficking office evaluates whether the government 
of a country is fully complying with the minimum standards for the 
elimination of human trafficking, or, if not, whether the government is 
making significant efforts to do so.
   The record is laid bare for the world to see and summarized in a 
tier ranking narrative. Tier 1 countries fully meet the minimum 
standards. Tier 2 countries do not meet the minimum standards but are 
making significant effort to do so. Tier 3 countries do not meet the 
standards and are not making significant effort to do so. Along with 
the embarrassment of being listed on Tier 3, such countries are open to 
sanction by the U.S. government.
   Over the last 14 years, more than 120 countries have enacted anti-
trafficking laws and many countries have taken other steps required to 
significantly raise their tier rankings. Some countries openly credit 
the TIP report as a key factor in their increased and effective anti-
trafficking response.
   We created the Tier 2 Watch List In the 2003 TVPA reauthorization. 
This list was intended to encourage good-faith anti-trafficking 
progress in a country that may have taken positive anti-trafficking 
steps late in the evaluation year.
   Unfortunately, some countries made a habit of last minute efforts 
and failed to follow through year after year--effectively gaming the 
system. To protect the integrity of the tier system and ensure it 
worked properly to inspire real progress in the fight against human 
trafficking, Congress in 2008 created an ``automatic downgrade'' for 
any country that had been on the Tier 2 Watch List for two years but 
had not taken significant enough anti-trafficking measures to move up a 
   The President can waive this automatic downgrade for two additional 
years if he certifies ``credible evidence'' that the country has a 
written and sufficiently resourced plan, which if implemented, would 
constitute significant effort to meet the minimum standards.
   Last year was the first test of the new system--and it worked. 
China, Russia, and Uzbekistan ran out of waivers and moved to Tier 3, 
which accurately reflected their records. In the hearing, we evaluated 
whether these countries have made any significant progress over the 
last year.
   I am particularly concerned that China's trafficking crisis 
continues unabated. The recent U.N. Commission of Inquiry Report on 
North Korea provides horrifying evidence of the trafficking of North 
Korean women to China-for sex, brides, or labor. An estimated 90 
percent of North Korean women seeking asylum in China are trafficked 
for these reasons. Thousands of women a year leave desperate situations 
in North Korea only to end up in a brothel or forced marriage--a tragic 
and astonishing fact.
   China's response has not been to provide protection for victims or 
to prosecute traffickers, it is to hunt down and repatriate North 
Koreans, sending them back--to hard labor, long imprisonments, and 
possible execution.
   North Korean women are not the only victims. By 2020, more than 40 
million Chinese men will be unable to find wives in China because of 
China's short-sighted and abusive one-child policy, which, coupled with 
modern abortion technology, has triggered the mass abortion of tens of 
millions of baby girls. A human rights abuse in and of itself, sex-
selective abortions have also created a huge trafficking magnet, 
pulling victims into forced marriages and brothels from countries in 
proximity to China and beyond.
   China's extremely modest and overly hyped suggestion that it might 
relax the draconian one-child policy for some couples is unlikely to 
mitigate the disaster and may be further counteracted by the spread of 
abortion sex selection technology to more of rural China. Whether the 
birth limitation is one-child or two-child in special cases, birth 
limitation policies constitute abuse, cruelty, and exploitation without 
precedent or parallel for baby girls and society.
   The Government of China is failing not only to address its own 
trafficking problems but is creating an incentive for human trafficking 
problems in the whole region. Although she could not join us in person 
at the hearing, renowned author Mara Hvistandahl, author of Unnatural 
Selection, Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World 
Full of Men, submitted testimony for the record specifically on the 
effect of the sex ratio imbalance as a cause of human trafficking and 
the proliferation of ``marriage agencies'' in China, which traffic 
women from poorer countries into China and sell them into marriage.
   During the hearing, we also looked at a second set of countries 
that, this year, must be automatically downgraded unless they have made 
significant efforts to fight human trafficking. These countries include 
Thailand, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Chad, Barbados, and Maldives. Burma 
may receive a Presidential waiver in order to avoid downgrade to Tier 3 
but the facts on the ground don't justify that course of action.
   Cutting across Burma, Thailand, and Malaysia is the tragic plight of 
the Rohingya minority. Rohingya are leaving Burma by the thousands to 
escape religious persecution. However, according to a report put out by 
Reuters, Thai authorities are selling Rohingya to human traffickers, 
where they are held in ``tropical gulags'' until relatives pay ransom. 
Those who cannot pay the ransom are sold into sex slavery or hard labor 
and many die from abuse or disease. Thai authorities have done little 
to stop this practice, their efforts at prevention and prosecution are 
said to be ``losing steam.''
   Rohingya are often trafficked to Malaysia where they are exploited 
for labor. The sad fact is that many Rohingya, a persecuted Sunni 
Muslim minority in Burma, hope to find refuge in Malaysia, a majority 
Muslim country.
   Burma is the source of Rohingya trafficking in the region. Policies 
of discrimination, child limitation, forced birth control, and violence 
push the Rohingya minority to leave Burma and leave them vulnerable 
refugees. The Burmese government is culpable in Rohingya trafficking 
and the regional problems their policies create.
   The Burmese Government also has done little to stop trafficking of 
Rohingya within Burma. Reports indicate that authorities profit from 
the sale of Rohingya to traffickers, Rohingya women are held at 
military bases as sex slaves, and Rohingya men are used for forced 
labor. Though these practices have gone on for many years, they are 
underreported in the State Department's TIP Report.
   Displaced by war with the Burmese military, women and children from 
the Kachin tribe in Burma are also subject to trafficking. Roi Ja, an 
18-year-old woman living in IDP camp in northern Burma, was lured to 
China with a promise of a restaurant job. Once in China she was bused 
to a rural village and locked in a room. According to her testimony, 
she cried for three days and begged those around to let her go. She was 
told to just ``give up'' and was sold as a bride for $5,312.
   We hear constantly about Burma's success democratic reforms, but 
peel away the layers of good news, and many of the same human rights 
problems and human atrocities remain. I understand that the 
administration has started a ``Human Trafficking Dialogue'' with Burma. 
Diplomatic engagement is important, but not enough to warrant an 
upgrade in Burma's status. For that we have to see concrete results, 
not Rohingya trafficked for sex and labor.
   The importance of accurate Tier rankings and TIP Report country 
profiles cannot be

[[Page E672]]

overstated. Again and again, we have seen countries turn 180 degrees 
and begin the hard work of reaching the minimum standards after the TIP 
Report accurately exposed--with a Tier 3 ranking and truthful country 
report--each country's failure to take significant action against human 
trafficking. By the same token, a premature boost to Tier 2 may not 
only undermine progress, but fail to inspire it among countries 
actually doing the hard work.
   I won't deny that there are at times diplomatic costs to accurate 
tier rankings--but it is the price of freedom for the men, women, and 
children caught in human trafficking. They remind us that each of their 
lives is priceless and must be protected.