The State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report has been released and Uzbekistan pulled a Tier 2 Watchlist ranking again. Here’s the key passage from the report on why Uzbekistan gets to stay at Tier 2 Watchlist for the fifth consecutive year rather than dropping down to Tier 3:
The Government of Uzbekistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government has not shown evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous year; therefore, Uzbekistan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a fifth consecutive year. Uzbekistan was granted a waiver of an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan.
The report methodology explains that a 2008 amendment to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) requires downgrades for countries who fail to progress from Tier 2 Watchlist to Tier 2 in a two consecutive year period. That requirement went into effect last year, and the Secretary of State can waiver the downgrade twice, meaning this should be Uzbekistan’s last free downgrade.
The big issue for Uzbekistan is cotton. A couple months ago, I wrote that it is hard to tell what Uzbekistan has done this year that it did not do last year. The Trafficking in Persons determinations have a lot to do with momentum. The situation can quantitatively be the same year-over-year in a country, but still lead to a fall to a lower tier for a lack of government effort. In 2011, Uzbekistan declared its intent to police itself to reduce forced child labor. In 2012, Uzbekistan has declared its intent to police itself to reduce forced child labor. It is hard to identify anything in State’s narrative for Uzbekistan that illustrates how Tashkent is devoting “sufficient” resources to implementing its written plan. Sure, UNICEF poked around, but even they say Uzbekistan’s government will not change. And some say they are going to probably be worse this year.
Of course, we all know this has entirely to do with avoiding angering Uzbekistan’s government and preventing headaches on the NDN, all the more important with US-Pakistan relations on the rocks. That said, it is unfortunate that there cannot be some real keeping in explaining the decision.
Here is how the rest of Central Asia fared:
- Kazakhstan: 2
- Kyrgyzstan: 2
- Tajikistan: 2
- Turkmenistan: 2 watch list