Human traffickers around the world exploit more than 20 million victims in forced labor and sex trafficking. This multi-billion dollar industry destroys families and communities. It weakens the rule of law, strengthens criminal networks, and offends universal concepts of human decency. The 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report looks into what is being done and should be done about this issue.
What can each of us do to help prevent human trafficking?
An important first step is to educate ourselves about the crime and share information from the U.S. State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). This annual report measures government efforts in prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing the heinous crime from occurring in the first place.
Covering 187 nations and territories—including the United States—the 2017 TIP Report has just been issued.
There is nothing simple about ending human trafficking. It is a crime that is hidden in the shadows. Traffickers all too often operate with impunity and whose victims are largely unseen.
What is the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report?
Since the first issue in 2001, our TIP Report has profiled a wide range of effective strategies for governments to fight human trafficking. These include victim identification and care, partnerships with civil society, and prevention efforts such as examining vulnerabilities in global supply chains.
The 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report focuses on the importance of effective law enforcement and prosecution efforts. It shines a light on the responsibility governments have to develop and enforce the laws that make trafficking a crime, incarcerate offenders, and protect victims. These prosecution efforts are crucial in the fight against human trafficking.
In addition to protecting victims from retribution or re-exploitation, an effective law enforcement response brings traffickers to justice – both to punish them for their crimes and to deter others. To be effective, governments need comprehensive anti-trafficking laws that clearly:
- define the crime
- criminalize all forms of human trafficking – both sex and labor trafficking
- prescribe penalties of imprisonment for the commission of trafficking crimes that are commensurate to punishments for other serious crimes.
Effective anti-trafficking law enforcement can be difficult; all governments must do more to address the crime comprehensively. The TIP Report this year examines some of the common challenges governments face in pursuing justice, including the barriers to building a strong case, delays in prosecution, non-criminal resolutions, and public officials’ complicity and corruption.
The Report also highlights some promising developments. Right here in Denmark, already a Tier 1 country, the government has increased prevention efforts, allocating more money to identification, outreach, and shelter.
What governments can do
Human trafficking is an assault on human dignity and needs to be penalized accordingly. No government can hold human traffickers accountable or address the needs of victims without stringent and comprehensive human trafficking laws, strong law enforcement, prosecutorial capacity funded with adequate resources, and an informed judiciary.
Governments can’t undo the pain and indignity victims face. But they can seek to right that wrong by prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing traffickers and those complicit in human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking deserve timely and meaningful access to justice through a system that respects the rule of law and due process rights.
In taking these measures, governments
- provide justice for victims
- create more stable societies to keep the vulnerable safe
- encourage a world free from modern slavery.
WITHOUT THESE MEASURES AND YOUR ATTENTION, THE TRAGEDY THAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING WILL CONTINUE TO FLOURISH. PLEASE READ AND SHARE THE INFORMATION IN THE 2017 TIP REPORT.
You can watch the whole ceremony below and read all the remarks on the U.S. Department of State’s website.