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Human Trafficking Legislation- Part 2: Federal Provisions

Updated on February 17, 2013

The federal human trafficking legislation comes to us in the form of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA); passed in the year 2000 in order to combat trafficking on a domestic and international level. It was established that the Secretary of State would be the chief executive officer in delegating and implementing the provisions of the TVPA. Five agencies are responsible for carrying out the mandate of the TVPA; they are U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Labor, and Health and Human Services. The Department of State established an official Global Trafficking in Persons

(GTiP) office which is responsible for monitoring and reporting trafficking activity in the United States and other appointed countries receivin

The TVPA provisions are as follows:an interagency task force, prevention efforts, protection and assistance, and financial assistance. I will now offer a more detailed outline of the objectives in each section.

The interagency task force is appointed by the president and chaired by the secretary of state. The task force is responsible for the researching and monitoring of trafficking activity, which takes place in the Gtip offices. It is also responsible for

  • Efforts to strengthen countries in trafficking prevention, trafficking prosecution, and facilitating efforts between destination countries and countries of origin to reintegrate victims

  • Consulatation and advocacy of governmental and non-governmental agencies to further the purposes of the agency

The prevention objective mainly includes financial opportunities to potential victims of human trafficking in the way of micro-loans, skillls training, job development, and special programs for women. The prevention objective also includes public awareness education and campaigns.

The protection and assistance objective provides for programs that aid in the reintegration of human trafficking victims.

And finally, financial assistance is provided on a domestic, but mostly international level to aid those countries in their efforts to combat trafficking.

The following pie chart displays the amount of money designated by the TVPA in the fiscal year 2009 for anti-trafficking efforts internationally and nationally. The purple slice of the chart represents the amount which is used for domestic TIP (trafficking in persons) programs, and the blue slice represents the amount which goes toward international TIP programs. Notice that the amount of money allocated to national funding is approximately one quarter of the total amount that is designated to nearly ninety countries worldwide.

U.S. Government Anti-Trafficking in Persons Project Funding (Fiscal Year 2009)


This next pie chart uses the total amount from the above pie chart, $103, 462,681 and states the percentages that are distributed to certain seven different regions of the world. As can be seen, the top two regions receiving United States aid are Africa and East Asia Pacific. The GLOBAL section represents other parts of the world not included in the other specified regions.

U.S. Government Anti-Trafficking in Persons International Project Funding by Region in Fiscal Year 2009


The TVPA Tier List

The TVPA rates ninety different countries according to how prevalent the crime is and how much it complies with the minimum standards set by the TVPA. Each country is rated as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List (represented as WL), or Tier 3. Tier 1 rated countries are those countries which fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards. Tier 2 rated countries are those countries which do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. Tier 2 WL rated countries are those countries which do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance and the country a) has a significant number of trafficking victims or there has been a significant increase in trafficking victims or b) the country made a commitment to make significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance over the next year, but there is a failure to provide evidence of these efforts from the previous year. Tier 3 rated countries are those countries which have governments which do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Often, these countries are marked with corruption in the form of government involvement in trafficking.

The TVPA appropriates its funding so that it focuses on countries that are on the Tier 3 list or Tier 2 WL. The money goes toward funding certain projects, but it is not identified what these projects are. The TVPA does provide incentives for the countries to cooperate with its efforts, such as trade sanctions placed on countries like India and China. However, despite non-compliance, these sanctions are rarely, if ever, carried out.

The criminal sentences for domestic crimes of human trafficking are no more than twenty years for trafficking for the purpose of involuntary servitude and a minimum sentence is not set. For the crime of the sex trafficking of children the sentence is no less than ten years or for life.

There are several disadvantages of the TVPA. According to the professionals that were interviewed, the money given to these countries rarely reaches the actual victims of trafficking. It was also agreed that, on a domestic level, the TVPA law is very hard to prosecute under seeming as there were fewer than 100 prosecutions last year. Since it is hard to prosecute under, it lacks a criminal deterrence factor. All of those interviewed, suggested harsher sentences of human trafficking criminals.


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