Under the anti-trafficking law, first passed in 2000, Foggy Bottom must release an annual report evaluating countries’ efforts to eliminate the practice and grouping them into three tiers. “Tier Three” countries, the lowest tier, are deemed non-compliant with the U.S. law’s minimum standards and can face sanctions. It’s the sort of public black eye that countries lobby aggressively to avoid.
Royce and Smith complain that these lobbying efforts have prompted State Department resistance when it comes to moving countries into tier three, even when it’s clear they deserve to be there.
“In the past 13 years, international peer pressure and the potential threat of U.S. sanctions have pushed many nations to try to avoid the stain of a ‘Tier Three’ designation in the State Department’s annual report, and more than 130 countries have enacted anti-trafficking laws,” Royce said in his opening remarks at the May 7 hearing.
In the past few years, however, Foggy Bottom has resisted “putting on the Tier 3 list those countries that are involved” in trafficking, Royce added, singling out Cambodia as an example.
Royce and Smith have promised to keep a close eye on the annual trafficking report that the State Department is scheduled to release in June and hold officials accountable if the same trend persists.