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Top News Launch of the Trafficking In Persons Report 2024: Reaction

Launch of the Trafficking In Persons Report 2024: Reaction

Hope for Justice has welcomed the launch of the 2024 Trafficking In Persons Report by the U.S. State Department.

At the launch, Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked the thousands of people and organisations around the world who have assisted in the fight against human trafficking, adding: “The courage and persistence of survivors and advocates like these humble and inspire us all as we continue working to build a safer and more just world.”

Secretary Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks on the release of the 2024 Trafficking in Persons Report at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., June 24, 2024. (Official State Department photo by Mark Stewart)

Cindy Dyer, Ambassador-at-Large at the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, focused in her speech on the importance of digital technologies in both the facilitation of human trafficking and the work to stop it. She also spoke about the role survivors play in prosecutions, reiterating a point made often by Hope for Justice about the need to avoid retraumatisation and blame. She explained: “Utilising strategic investigative processes can effectively shift the burden of proof away from a reliance on victim testimony, which can endanger and retraumatise victims, and onto the prosecuting authority to both strengthen criminal justice procedures and better facilitate the safety and long-term well-being of victims and survivors. Strengthening partnerships with survivors and innovating for greater inclusion of historically marginalized communities such as those with disabilities, are crucial to the anti-trafficking movement. Survivors must continue to be consulted early and often in the development and implementation of anti-trafficking work.” 

2024 TIP Report ‘Heroes’. (Official State Department photo by Mark Stewart)

Tier rankings

Of the countries where Hope for Justice has active anti-trafficking programmes, Ethiopia and Uganda both kept their Tier 2 rankings. The Tier Rankings run from Tier 1 – the best available, though still showing only that a country is meeting the ‘minimum requirements’ of the legislation rather than doing all it possibly can – down through Tier 2, Tier 2 Watchlist, and Tier 3. Being placed in this bottom tier can jeopardize a country’s access to (nonhumanitarian, nontrade-related) financial assistance and educational/cultural exchange programmes with the U.S. Government. The United States itself remains Tier 1, as does the UK.

However, Kerry Brighouse, UK Programme Director for Hope for Justice, emphasised that the report does pull up the UK on aspects of its response to the issue. She explained: “Although the UK remains on ‘Tier 1’ and meets the US State Department’s ‘minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking’, the report highlights several areas in which the UK’s response to modern slavery has deteriorated. We welcome this recognition of the challenges and regressive actions taken in recent years.

“The report’s findings reflect our team’s first-hand experience: changes to legislation and policy have made it harder for survivors of modern slavery to be identified and for them to access the support they require. Survivors are waiting far too long to be identified as such.

“Not so long ago the UK could proudly claim to be a world-leader in tackling modern slavery, but now survivors may be at risk of being removed to Rwanda rather than offered protection in the UK. 

“The UK’s approach to tackling modern slavery requires urgent review. The upcoming general election presents an opportunity to reset the government’s strategy and place safeguarding and human rights protection at the heart of our approach. Hope for Justice has joined with over 60 NGOs to call on all political parties to prevent modern slavery, priorities sustainable recovery, and uphold justice.”

The TIP Report 2024 also aggregates global law enforcement data. That shows that last year, there was a welcome increase in the number of trafficking cases bring prosecuted and perpetrators convicted, plus a rise in the number of victims being formally identified (while still just a tiny fraction of the number of people estimated to be living in modern slavery globally).

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