Combatting Human Trafficking by Increasing the Risks for Perpetrators

By Meghan Hampsey

On February 18th, The Heritage Foundation released an issue brief analyzing the correlation between economic freedom and human trafficking, utilizing the State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP report). The report confirms that law enforcement and a judicial system free from corruption are key to the effort to eradicate modern slavery.

Improving training for local law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors to identify victims and traffickers and increasing prosecutions will heighten the risks for traffickers and thereby decrease the rate of trafficking. International Justice Mission proved this to be the case through a pilot program in the Philippines, which focused on the rule of law in addition to victim services. IJM’s three-year program recorded a 79% decrease in the number of minor sex trafficking victims after efforts to better the country’s legal and judicial systems by partnering with local and national law enforcement. IJM attained similar results in Cambodia, where the percentage of minors available for sex trafficking dropped from 15-30% in the early 2000s to 8.16% between 2014 and 2015.

Anti-trafficking programs are most effective and sustainable when programs are coordinated with the host country’s government and support elements of its larger strategy to reduce corruption, promote economic freedom, and strengthen the rule of law. For this reason, collaboration between the private and public sectors is key to reducing the significant profits that drive traffickers. Businesses should train their vendors, employees, and suppliers on how to recognize the signs of trafficking in their supply chains and cooperate with law enforcement to identify victims and prosecute traffickers. Developed economies should help end human trafficking by banning the importation of all products made with forced labor. Similarly, the U.S. government should enforce the recently signed ban on all goods made with forced labor.

For more of recommendations on ways to end human trafficking please see our blueprint.

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Published on March 7, 2016

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