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PM Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Tzipi Livni fight against human trafficking. .(Photo by: Mark Neiman/GPO)
US commends Israel for efforts to address human trafficking
By Lidar Gravé-Lazi
Israel awarded “Tier 1” ranking for the third year in a row for its efforts to prevent human trafficking.
The United States has recognized Israel’s continued activity in the important struggle against the trafficking of women, MK David Tsur said on Sunday.

The MK, and chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women and Prostitution, made these remarks in reference to the US State Department’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons report that was released by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.

For the third year in a row, it awarded Israel a Tier 1 ranking for its efforts to prevent human trafficking.

The Trafficking in Persons report, released annually, provides an “updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.”

The report places each country worldwide into one of three tiers based on their governments’ efforts to comply with the “Minimum Standards for the Elimination of Trafficking,” according to the US Laws on Trafficking in Persons.

A Tier 1 ranking is the highest a country can receive, and indicates that “a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, made efforts to address the problem and complies with the TVPA’s [Trafficking Victims Protection Act] minimum standards.”

Furthermore, each year a country must “demonstrate appreciable progress” in order to maintain its ranking.

The 2014 report commended the government’s efforts to address human trafficking, including its activities in sustaining strong law enforcement actions, its cooperation with NGOs to identify potential victims and its referral of victims to government-funded shelters. It also praised the opening of a third trafficking shelter and day center to provide services to identified victims.

The report lauded the efforts of the anti-trafficking unit within the Justice Ministry as the “lead coordinating body among governmental agencies” as well as the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women and Prostitution, which it said held frequent public meetings on the issue.

“I am happy about the constant efforts of all concerned, and the inter-ministerial collaboration led by Dr. Merav Shmueli of the Justice Ministry and the aid organizations that are once again recognized by the US administration,” Tsur said.

However, despite the top ranking, the report also identified areas for improvement, including imposing stricter sentences on convicted trafficking offenders, ensuring that victims of trafficking are not being detained for immigration violations; training labor inspectors and law enforcement officials to identify trafficking, increasing enforcement of foreign worker labor rights; and increasing investigations of forced prostitution of Israelis.

“In the coming months the committee will monitor the issues raised in the report and ask all those involved to report on events in each sector in order to ensure that the trafficking of women does not raise its ugly head,” Tsur said.
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