Human trafficking is a horrendous reality, as we all can imagine.  Many travelers who have ventured outside of the U.S. (although trafficking happens in our own country as well, sadly) have been to places where, outside of the safety of tourist havens or nice hotels, there are dark underworlds where countless people are trapped in labor and/or sex trafficking situations.  It’s truly heart wrenching.

The U.S. State Department released its TIP (Trafficking in Persons) Report today, and it was interesting to read through.  The Department surveyed 180 countries, apparently the largest number ever studied for the report, and ranked countries by Tiers 1, 2, and 3.  If a country is labeled as a Tier 1 country, that means that they’re in compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards.  Tier 2 means that the country’s government doesn’t fully comply with the Act’s standards but is making “significant efforts” to enact compliance and is seeing improvement in human trafficking.  Countries who are blacklisted on the Tier 3 list are not complying with minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

This year, the following countries made the Tier 3 black list:

1.  Algeria

2.  Burma

3.  Central African Republic

4.  Congo (DRC)

5.  Cuba

6.  Equatorial Guinea

7.  Eritrea

8.  Guinea-Bissau

9.  Iran

10.  North Korea

11.  Kuwait

12.  Lebanon

13.  Libya

14.  Madagascar

15.  Mauritania

16.  Micronesia

17.  Papua New Guinea

18.  Saudi Arabia

19.  Sudan

20.  Turkmenistan

21.  Venezuela

22.  Yemen

23.  Zimbabwe

Last year, 13 countries made it on the Tier 3 black list, meaning that there are 10 more countries that have worsened in terms of human trafficking.  The Dominican Republic was the only country to get its name removed from the Tier 3 list.

There are many ways to get involved in the fight against human trafficking.  I am a big fan of the organization IJM (International Justice Mission), which does great work in combating human trafficking.  They work with locals in countries like those on the Tier 3 list to identify trafficking rings, rescue victims from slavery, prosecute the criminals who enslave them, and rehabilitate the victims.  For more information check out