WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is making combating human trafficking a top priority and on Thursday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump unveiled the 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
The report ranks counties annually on their efforts to stop human trafficking and places them on one of three tiers. Many tier three countries are not in compliance with the Trafficking Protection Act.
Among this year's tier three countries are Iran and North Korea, which Pompeo pointed out in his speech. China also earned a tier three ranking.
The focus of this year's report is on ways local communities can address human trafficking and how national governments can support them.
"If we're going to win this fight, national government must empower local communities," Pompeo said.
More than a dozen countries in Africa improved their ranking, and of the 48 included in the report, 14 were upgraded. Other countries Pompeo highlighted for their growth included Argentina, Bahrain and Estonia.
At the end of the ceremony, Pompeo and Ivanka Trump recognized the TIP heroes of the year with certificates.
"Today, as we release this year's TIP report, we reaffirm our mission and honor the heroes on the frontlines, who have dedicated their lives to fighting modern slavery in all its evil forms," Ivanka Trump said in a statement.
Pompeo is optimistic about the progress being made but made clear there's still a big battle ahead.
"There remains a great deal of work left to do," he warned. "We will not stop until human trafficking is a thing of the past."
Full statement from Ivanka Trump:
"Over the past 18 months, this Administration has worked vigorously to combat human trafficking. The President signed into law landmark legislation to identify and prosecute traffickers and support victims domestically. Our Administration has also contributed to the launch of a global fund to address this horrific crime abroad. Today, as we release this year's TIP Report, we reaffirm our mission and honor the Heroes on the frontlines, who have dedicated their lives to fighting modern slavery in all its evil forms. We will continue to partner with organizations and governments across the country and around the world to safeguard our communities and protect the innocent."