State Department releases 2017 Trafficking in Persons report
Religion & Liberty Online

State Department releases 2017 Trafficking in Persons report

This week the State Department released the 2017 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 tragic human rights issues of our time. It splinters families, distorts global markets, undermines the rule of law, and spurs other transnational criminal activity. It threatens public safety and national security,” says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “But worst of all, the crime robs human beings of their freedom and their dignity. That’s why we must pursue an end to the scourge of human trafficking.”

The report identifies seven types of “modern slavery”:

Sex Trafficking — “When an adult engages in a commercial sex act, such as prostitution, as the result of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion or any combination of such means.”

Child Sex Trafficking — “When a child (under 18 years of age) is recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, patronized, solicited, or maintained to perform a commercial sex act (proving force, fraud, or coercion is not necessary for the offense to be prosecuted as human trafficking).”

Forced Labor — “Sometimes also referred to as labor trafficking, encompasses the range of activities—recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining—involved when a person uses force or physical threats, psychological coercion, abuse of the legal process, deception, or other coercive means to compel someone to work.”

Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage — “One form of coercion used by traffickers in both sex trafficking and forced labor is the imposition of a bond or debt.”

Domestic Servitude — “Involuntary domestic servitude is a form of human trafficking found in distinct circumstances—work in a private residence—that create unique vulnerabilities for victims. It is a crime in which a domestic worker is not free to leave his or her employment and is abused and underpaid, if paid at all.”

Forced Child Labor — “Although children may legally engage in certain forms of work, children can also be found in slavery or slavery-like situations. Some indicators of forced labor of a child include situations in which the child appears to be in the custody of a non-family member who requires the child to perform work that financially benefits someone outside the child’s family and does not offer the child the option of leaving, such as forced begging.”

Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers — “Child soldiering is a manifestation of human trafficking when it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children—through force, fraud, or coercion—by armed forces as combatants or other forms of labor. same types of devastating physical and psychological consequences associated with child sex trafficking.”

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.

Of the 187 countries assessed under the minimum standards, 36 countries were placed on Tier One, 80 on Tier Two, 45 were placed on the Tier Two Watch List, and 23 countries were on Tier Three. In all, there were 21 downgrades, meaning a country moved down a level, and 27 upgrades.

Last year, only 66,520 victims of trafficking were identified in the past year, out of an estimated pool of more than 20 million victims. Out of that number, foreign governments reported only 14,897 prosecutions and 9,071 convictions for trafficking offenses.

To read more of the report, click here.

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).