The 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, released by the US State Department on June 28th, shows lights of hope and gloom of sadness.
The 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, released by the US State Department on June 28th, shows that some countries are making modest improvements in their efforts to stem trafficking in humans while other countries ignore this form of modern slavery. Some of the most religiously conservative regimes such as Iran and Saudi Arabia ignore the victims of trafficking. Neither country has made significant efforts to comply with the Palermo Protocol that prohibits trafficking in human beings. Meanwhile other countries that trumpet their egalitarian principles, for example Venezuela and Cuba turn a blind eye to this international crime.
The Palermo Protocol (technically the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children) is a United Nations document, ratified by many countries, that calls for the prevention of human trafficking, the protection of victims, and the prosecution of the traffickers, the so-called 3 Ps. The US State Department annual release discusses these 3 Ps as they apply in each of the countries mentioned in the report.
The report does offer hope. Prosecutions for trafficking are up globally by 7%, although convictions were down 13%. Prosecutions for sex trafficking continue to form the vast majority of court cases. For many cultural and political reasons, prosecutions for forced labor continue to lag worldwide.
The report also shows that trafficking is not a problem only of the 3rd world. The developed nations remain major markets for sex trafficking and forced prostitution. At the same time, the less developed nations sometimes excel in their efforts to interrupt this trade. Nigeria, for instance, is a Tier 1 country according to the report, putting it in the same category as the United Kingdom and the United States. Moldova has also improved its effort in this area, although it remains a major source of trafficked women.
The State Department’s annual report is required under the United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). In addition to summary comments about the global fight against modern slavery, the report offers statistics, examples of successful programs , and a country-by-country analysis of both supply of and demand for forced labor. Countries are ranked into one of three tiers, depending on their success in implementing the 3 Ps of the Palermo Protocol. Together with the Palermo Protocol, the TVPA forms the backbone of the international fight against trafficking in persons.
For organizations that work in this field, the 2011 report is a treasure trove of information and advice. A section on cooperating with NGOs, for instance, points out that these organizations can offer assistance to victims, safe havens for refugees, medical services, legal representation, and even feedback on the effectiveness of various government policies. In addition, the report provides details of each country’s efforts to protect victims of trafficking, to prosecute those responsible, and to prevent trafficking in the first place. Even for those countries that fully comply with international standards (Tier 1 countries), the report offers suggestions for improvement.
For those interested in learning more about the report and about trafficking in people, here are some useful links:
2011 Trafficking in Persons Report: US State Department
The Palermo Protocol on the Suppression of Human Trafficking: United Nations
Global Report on Human Trafficking: United Nations
Photo. Rescued trafficking victim in a Mumbai shelter take art therapy; a young victim’s self-portrait.