Proposal 2: Government Actions Towards Human Trafficking


 

Real tattoo on a victim.
Source: Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report

 

Last week, I focused on the business side of human trafficking and looked at what drives the economics of this industry. For my second proposal, I would like to focus on the governmental side of human trafficking and learn what countries are doing in regards to prevention and helping those who are victims. After doing some initial research (which produced a lot of results), I came across a report titled Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report published by the U.S. Department of State under the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The TIP Report serves as the U.S. Government’s principal tool to “engage foreign governments on human trafficking” and it presents an updated global look at the issue and the range of government actions to confront and eliminate it. The report places each country into one of three “tiers” based on the extent of each government’s efforts to adhere to the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking as outlined in the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) of 200. Tier 1 is the highest ranking, but this does not mean that countries in this category do not have a human trafficking problem; rather it means that the country’s government has recognized the existence of the issue and has made efforts to address it as well as adhering to the TVPA minimum standards.

In its most recent report, published in 2012, Clinton notes that a lot of progress has been made this year. Specifically, 29 countries moved from a lower tier to a higher one. This means that their governments are taking action and moving in the right direction to address the issue through enacting strong laws, increasing their commitment to investigations and prosecutions, etc. While progress has been made, there are still some countries that have stood still or are even regressing in their commitment to eliminating human trafficking. So, this year’s report put a significant focus on the protection of the victim by providing proven practices and approaches that have helped protect victims in hopes that governments will use this as a guide to progress their own efforts.

Each country has a narrative that gives insight into its actions towards prevention, prosecution, and protection. So, I decided to take a look at the narrative of the United States to see what was being done in our country. The United States (thankfully) ranked as a Tier 1 country, but it still a source, transit, and destination for both U.S. and international men, women, and children. These people are subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking in industries or markets including brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, hotel services, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service among others. In the U.S., more investigations and prosecutions have been made in regards to sex trafficking than labor trafficking, but in terms of protection assistance, there are more cases for labor trafficking victims than sex trafficking victims.

In terms of prosecution, the U.S. government has showed progress in its federal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in the last year. In fiscal year 2011, there were 337 confirmed human trafficking investigations and of these cases, 151 of them were convicted and charged, compared to 141 convictions in 2010. The average prison sentence given for federal trafficking crimes was 11.8 years, and in several sex trafficking cases, life sentences were imposed. Furthermore, law enforcement training increased with approximately 570 task force training sessions provided that reached more than 27,000 individuals. For protection, the U.S. government continued its measures through efforts to increase victim identification and service provision to identified victims. Some of the assistance that was provided to victims through federal funds were case management and referrals, medical care, dental care, mental health treatment, sustenance and shelter, translation and interpretation services, immigration and legal assistance, referrals to employment and training services, and transportation assistance. Still, however, there are challenges in victim identification amongst federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. This is because some law enforcement officials are reluctant to aid in the identification of trafficking victims as many of them have participated in criminal activity. In regards to prevention, the U.S. government increased their efforts aimed at “ensuring that government procurement of goods and labor services is free from forced labor, examining visa categories for vulnerabilities, and conducting public awareness activities. Some of the recommendations provided for the U.S. include: improve data collection on and analysis of human trafficking cases at all levels; increase federal resources dedicated to investigating and prosecuting trafficking offenders; and strengthen implementation of and increase resources related to government-wide enforcement of the “zero tolerance” policy in feral contracts.

This report was so useful and was very high quality. The information and data presented have provided me with an idea of how governments address human trafficking problems, and it will help me further analyze government actions to determine if they are really living up to their full potential in terms of prosecution, protection, and prevention. This report is reliable source of information, and I plan to use this source heavily and elaborate further on more specifics of its findings in my white paper. In the near future, I will further examine this dense report in even more detail on many different countries across the world to compare and contrast government actions.

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