The United States, which is $16.4 trillion in debt, wants to give money to a Costa Rican organization to build a shelter for victims of human trafficking.
The U.S. State Department specifically listed Costa Rica as one of 14 countries to which grants will be made. Other countries include such Third World nations as Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Senegal, Kenya, South Sudan, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and México.
The complex procedure for applying for the grant is posted on the department Web site. The deadline for a statement of interest is Jan. 21.
The State Department said that Costa Rica and the other countries were chosen this year based on the 2012 “Trafficking in Persons Report” that came out in June. “Generally, the TIP Office prioritizes foreign assistance in countries ranked as Tier 3, Tier 2 Watch List, and in some cases, Tier 2, where governments lack the economic resources and trafficking expertise to effectively address the problem, ‘ said the State Department. Trafficking in persons is called TIP by the State Department.
Costa Rica was listed in the tier 2 category of the report this June, which means that the government does not fully comply with the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards but is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with those standards. In 2011 the country was listed in the tier 2 watch list, which means, among other factors, that there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons.
Costa Rica just passed a trafficking law that created a $1 exit tax at airports. The law says the money will be distributed to organizations to fight trafficking, although trafficking is not defined in the law.
A.M. Costa Rica has pointed out a serious omission in the trafficking in persons reports as they relate to Costa Rica. Although much of the country-based information is prepared at the local U.S. Embassy, the report repeatedly fails to mention that prostitution is not prosecuted in Costa Rica and that men also participate in commercial sex. Reporters have brought the omission to the attention of U.S. Embassy officials without result.
Said the State Department about the grants:
The TIP Office seeks to fund programs in Costa Rica that focus on the country’s needs for: Providing direct victim services. According to the 2012 TIP Report, the recommendations for Costa Rica within this category are: Fund specialized services for trafficking victims, possibly through the establishment of a shelter specifically for trafficking victims or through funding NGOs to provide services; Ensure that cases of trafficking not involving movement are investigated and prosecuted and that victims of these crimes receive appropriate services.
The department does not define what it means by trafficking not involving movement. The department says that trafficking includes forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, and child soldiers.
But in Costa Rica, prior grants almost always have involved prostitution.
“Pending the availability of appropriated funds, the TIP Office anticipates awarding grants of up to $750,000 per project,’ the department said.
The State Department is seeking applications from U.S. and foreign non-profit organizations, the NGOs, and higher education institutions. Profit-making firms are eligible as long as they promise not to make a profit, said the announcement.
The government also states its own opinion on prostitution: “The U.S. government is opposed to prostitution and related activities, which are inherently harmful and dehumanizing, and contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons.” Organizations that are successful in winning a grant must certify that they will not promote, support, or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or must certify that they are neutral to the practice of prostitution.
Similar grants in the past have been won by the Fundación Rahab. This is the organization that sends volunteers around with Fuerza Pública officers to coerce possible prostitutes into hearing about job options and to filling out forms containing identifying information.