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State Department releases 2019 Trafficking in Persons report

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This week the State Department released the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, a congressionally mandated report that looks at the governments around the world (including the U.S.) and what they are doing to combat trafficking in persons—modern slavery—through the lens of the 3P paradigm of prevention, protection, and prosecution.

“Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes on Earth,” says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Right now traffickers are robbing a staggering 24.9 million people of their freedom and basic human dignity—that’s roughly three times the population of New York City. We must band together and build momentum to defeat human trafficking. We must hold the perpetrators of this heinous crime accountable.”

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

• sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or

• the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within this definition.

Three elements are needed to establish the crime of human trafficking under the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (the Palermo Protocol)—the trafficker’s action, the means of force, fraud or coercion, and the purpose of exploitation. As of March 31, 2019, 173 parties ratified the Palermo Protocol and 168 countries have passed domestic legislation criminalizing human trafficking according to this framework.

The report gives each country a grade ranging from Tier 1 (governments of countries that fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking) to Tier 3 (governments of countries that do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so). Each tier is based on such criteria the country’s laws against trafficking, how countries deal with corruption of officials regarding trafficking, and care of survivors.

Tier 3 countries include Belarus, Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, China, Comoros, Democratic Rep. Of The Congo, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gambia, Iran, Korea, North Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela.

Last year, only 85,613 victims of trafficking were identified, out of an estimated pool of more than 20 million victims. Out of that number, foreign governments reported only 11,096 prosecutions and 7,481 convictions for trafficking offenses.

To read more of the report, click here.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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