New Trafficking in Persons Report Highlights Need for Increased Enforcement of Anti-Human Trafficking Laws
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First said that the 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released today by the State Department reinforces the need for additional training and resources to help authorities enforce anti-trafficking laws in the United States, as well as new policies to increase the risks, penalties, and punishments for criminals involved in human trafficking.
“We applaud the State Department for taking action to monitor and report on the progress of governments around the world to combat human trafficking. Today’s report demonstrates that the United States is taking important steps to increase support and services to victims of this heinous crime,” said Human Rights First’s Amy Sobel. “The report also demonstrates a stark contrast between the size of this crime and the number of perpetrators who have been brought to justice. We urge the U.S. government to work toward common sense solutions to disrupt the criminal networks responsible for many of these crimes by increasing the risks and penalties for those who exploit and enslave other human beings.”
Over the past decade, the anti-trafficking movement has secured important laws and policies focused on protecting and supporting victims, in particular the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, which has been reauthorized several times. The report notes that there has been an increase in amended or new legislation worldwide from 21 in 2012 to 58 pieces of legislation in 2013. However, current anti-trafficking efforts have had no significant impact on the overall incidence of human trafficking.
The 2014 TIP Report lists the total number of prosecutions for human trafficking in 2013 to be 9,460 worldwide, with only 5,776 convictions – one out of every three prosecutions did not result in conviction. Of the 14.5 million estimated forced labor victims worldwide, only 1,199 cases of forced labor were prosecuted in 2013. In the United States, the Department of Justice prosecuted only 161 human trafficking cases in 2013, up from 138 prosecutions in 2012 and 125 prosecutions in 2011. Of 5,000 visas available annually for trafficking victims in the United States, only 848 were issued in 2013, 674 in 2012, and 557 in 2011.
While there has been only slight changes in the number of prosecutions and convictions for human trafficking year over year, the business of human trafficking has experienced rapid growth. According to a report issued by the International Labor Organization in May of this year, profitability of human trafficking has increased three-fold over the past decade and is now estimated to be roughly $150 billion annually.
Human Rights First urges the U.S. government to outline plans to increase resources and develop new policies aimed at increasing arrests and prosecutions of all players involved in the trafficking supply network, including recruiters, transporters, and those who harbor victims. Additionally, the organization urges the U.S. government to include a financial investigation as part of each federal human trafficking case to measure and track the full trafficking network. The United States should work together with other governments to investigate instances of transnational human trafficking, prosecute the exploiters, and stop money laundering and the re-investment of criminal proceeds into legitimate and illegitimate businesses.
“This is a call to action, to government and citizens around the world to bring their abusers to justice. There cannot be impunity for those who traffic in human beings. It must end,” said Secretary of State John Kerry during today’s report announcement.