The 20th annual Trafficking In Persons report by the US Department of State reinforces how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is making people more vulnerable to human trafficking and modern slavery.
The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, says in his foreword to the report: “While urgency has always marked the fight against human trafficking, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have magnified the need for all stakeholders to work together in the fight more than ever. We know that human traffickers prey upon the most vulnerable and look for opportunities to exploit them. Instability and lack of access to critical services caused by the pandemic mean that the number of people vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers is rapidly growing.”
This finding echoes the key message of Hope for Justice’s own recent report, COVID-19 and potential implications on human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery internationally.
One key part of the TIP Report each year is the Country Tier List, which you can see in full here. Notably this year, Afghanistan was added to the list of nations doing little to stop human trafficking, saying the coutnry has not been addressing child sexual slavery and the recruitment of child soldiers. Afghanistan was placed in ‘Tier 3’, the lowest possible: countries that do not meet minimum standards to stop trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so. Saudi Arabia was upgraded from Tier 3 up to Tier 2, along with Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gambia. Ireland, which held a Tier 1 rating between 2013 and 2017, has slipped once again, now ranked as a Tier 2 Watch List due to a lack of human trafficking prosecutions.
John Cotton Richmond, the US Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said in remarks at the launch today: “Today’s release marks a historic milestone in the fight to end trafficking around the world.
“The United States is committed to ending modern slavery. And one of the strongest indications of our commitment is the report that we are launching today, the 20th in a row. For 20 years, we have been at this work together.
“We remain steadfast in declaring that there is no excuse for human trafficking and that governments must take bold action in order to bring the reforms that are necessary. Today we celebrate progress and lean forward with hope into the work that remains.
“As we have continued our work during the COVID-19 pandemic, traffickers have continued as well. Traffickers did not shut down. They continue to harm people, finding ways to innovate and even capitalize on the chaos. The ratio between risk and reward is expanding in their favor. And so, we press on all the more. As the vulnerable become more vulnerable, we remain resolved in our pursuit of freedom for every victim of human trafficking and accountability for every trafficker.
“Despite the schemes of traffickers, the reality is this: governments across the world, survivors, NGOs, faith communities, and advocates are still at work. For 20 years we have determined that we will not grow weary in our fight for freedom, and we have only just begun. Hope lies ahead.”
Hope for Justice is very pleased to support the work done by Ambassador Richmond and his Office, and joined him for a roundtable event in London earlier in 2020 (see photo, above).
Anybody seeking to understand the global realities of #HumanTrafficking in our world today knows the value of the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which has just been released – its 20th edition https://t.co/4xRZZHfzrE
— Hope for Justice (@Hopeforjustice) June 26, 2020
The full TIP Report can be downloaded at: https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report-2020/