The United States Department of State has placed India in Tier 2 category in its annual report on human trafficking. Tier 2 is for countries that are making significant efforts to comply with US standards.

The Trafficking in Persons Report 2018 urged India to increase prosecutions and convictions for all forms of trafficking, including forced and bonded labour, and to prosecute officials allegedly complicit in it.

“The Government of India does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the report said. “The government demonstrated increasing efforts by nearly tripling the number of victims identified and increasing its budget for shelter programs for female and child trafficking victims.”

The report, however, said that “victim protection remained inadequate and inconsistent” and the government at times penalised victims through arrests.

The US Department of State places each country in the report into one of four tiers, as mandated by The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 of the US. A Tier 1 ranking is for countries that meet minimum US standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to do so; Tier 2 Watch List is for those meriting special scrutiny; and Tier 3 is for countries that fail to fully comply with the minimum US standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. A Tier 3 ranking can trigger American sanctions limiting access to US and international foreign assistance, reported Reuters.

North Korea, Russia, Iran and China are in the Tier 3 category. The report said that North Korea used proceeds from state-sponsored forced labour to fund government functions as well as other illicit activity. “It did not screen for or protect potential trafficking victims when they were forcibly repatriated from China or other countries.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is committed to combating human trafficking. “Modern slavery has no place in the world, and I intend to ensure, through diplomatic engagement and increased action, that the United States government’s leadership in combating this global threat is sustained in the years to come,” he said during the release of the report.