by Steffanie Preston
An Update on Trafficking on a Global Scale
The U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons releases a report known as the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) annually. The purpose of this document is to address, educate, and potentially solve human trafficking issues. Each year when the report is released, we at Just Ask take time to look over it to see the progress that has been made on this important issue, both domestically and internationally. We will break down the major takeaways of this year’s report in a series of three blog posts. This entry takes a look at the major successes and areas for improvement in the global anti-trafficking community.
Collecting reliable data on human trafficking
A key factor in this report is to identify the extreme difficulty of gathering reliable data about trafficking. Unfortunately, collecting primary and meaningful data regarding this crime is very complex, limited, and costly. The current lack of effective data collection affects consistent standardization between one country to the next and results in poor management of data as well as ineffective eradication practices and strategies.
The TIP Report emphasizes the importance of improving our data collection. Progress towards this goal is being made, however, with the creation of centralized databases and anonymized datasets. One powerful example is the IOM Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) being launched in 2017 as the first global and accessible way to input human trafficking data. Organizations such as IOM, Polaris, and Liberty Shared have been able to input their data into the CTDC, totaling over 90,000 survivor cases spanning over 172 countries as of January 2019. Polaris was a big factor in these global number, as it collects information from its National Human Trafficking Hotline and Polaris BeFree Textline. Furthermore, the UNODC released their Global Report on Human Trafficking at the end of 2018.
This report portrays the patterns and flows that are seen in human trafficking throughout 142 countries. Like Polaris, countries have begun to recognize the importance of hotlines. Hotlines provide trafficking victims or observance a way to disclose and acts as the first point of contact for these cases. They are crucial since they are the first point of contact and many have suffered from lack of funding, knowledge, and training. Hotlines on local levels operate best when they are structured to cater to specific trafficking patterns in that area. Learning these patterns requires funding for proper research and analyzation. Recently, governments and non-government organizations have been providing more of this essential funding and building hotlines that are able to streamline into the appropriate government agencies and community services.
Training domestic units in many countries
On a domestic level, dedicated prosecution units are being employed in many countries to provide subject matter expertise throughout the conviction process of traffickers. These units have gone through victim-centered and trauma-informed anti-trafficking training. This gives the units the ability to gain the trust of crucial participants within the conviction process, as well as the ability to simplify and navigate through the many complexities of the court processes related to human trafficking cases. Because dedicated prosecution units are vital to the successful prosecution of traffickers, there has been an increase in the number of countries beginning to employ their services over the years. In addition, many governments have realized the importance and impact that the voice of a survivor has on future anti-trafficking efforts.
Survivors are the key to advocating better laws and education
Survivors have increasingly become a vital part by providing training to law enforcement and other service providers, advocating legislation, engaging communities, and collaborating with the government to improve strategies and policies. The 2019 report by the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, which is made up of survivors, defined the term “survivor-informed” and set regulations for protocols such as not giving tight time constraints on human trafficking-related projects. Survivor voices have increasingly become the core value to combatting human trafficking and empower survivors to seek a role in leadership.
Global supply chains, which largely involve labor trafficking, have been a growing issue among anti-trafficking efforts over the past 10 years. Over the past five years, governments have been focusing on developing strategies to eradicate the exploitative labor recruitment processes seen among traffickers. Many of the strategies have involved improving hiring processes and setting guidelines into place. For example, the International Labor Organization (ILO) General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment was released, as well as the ILO Fair Recruitment Initiative.
At the end of the year, an official definition for ‘recruitment fees’ was released by the United States government. The definition applies to federal contractors, their subcontractors, and serves as a model for other countries globally. The definition’s effective date was January 22, 2019. Additionally, the international community has been working to eliminate child soldiers through the Child Soldiers Prevention Act List. According to this list, countries known to use child soldiers will have restricted access to certain military equipment and licenses.
Just Ask Prevention’s Efforts in the Fight Against Human Trafficking
We are so happy to see the State Department highlighting the ways the international community’s effort to fight human trafficking are improving. Just Ask has many programs in place that focus on these very topics. To start, a division of Just Ask, the National Human Trafficking Intelligence Center (NHTIC), is working on compiling and disseminating actionable intel to law enforcement through analytical work. We believe that the NHTIC’s work will contribute to the call for improved data. Additionally, the NHTIC and Just Ask both have thorough law enforcement training that was written with contributions from law enforcement personnel, human trafficking survivors, and many more valuable experts. These training sessions are victim-centered and trauma-informed, just as is highlighted in the TIP report. Listening to and receiving input from survivors is at the heart of our organization. Just Ask is leading the way in our approach to anti-trafficking work and we are proud to see that many of our programs and values are being highlighted in the 2019 Trafficking in Person’s Report.
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