On June 30, as part of the US Government’s ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking, the US State Department released its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The Report is an important barometer that provides global insights and evaluates countries’ efforts to combat human trafficking in terms of protection, prevention, prosecution, and partnerships.
The 2016 report cites several victories that show great improvement in the US approach to human trafficking. The government enhanced outreach and training programs, increased engagement with survivors, and bolstered policies on human trafficking. One example is the enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which eliminated an exception of allowing imports into the US of goods produced by forced labor. The report also noted that adult survivors of human trafficking are no longer required to cooperate with law enforcement, as forced collaboration could be negative and detrimental to their development progress. As of March 2016, adult survivors can now choose when or if they work with law enforcement.
Despite the year’s numerous successes, many areas still need improvement. Report findings indicate that the US Government disproportionately focuses on sex trafficking cases – with prosecution of labor trafficking cases decreasing from eight percent in 2014 to two percent in 2015. This is symptomatic of a broader issue where the focus on sex trafficking far exceeds that on labor trafficking. Freedom Network USA aims to change this, advocating that all survivors of human trafficking deserve justice.
The report also cites the low utilization of Continued Presence (CP) for human trafficking survivors. This form of immigration relief gives foreign national survivors benefits and temporary status to live and work legally in the US while the trafficking investigation or prosecution proceeds. This was implemented to bridge the gap for survivors who leave a trafficking situation and apply for immigration support, such as a T-Visa. Freedom Network USA will continue to advocate for more oversight and consistent implementation efforts.
Overall, the TIP Report is an important window into global progress and setbacks in eradicating human trafficking. Freedom Network USA Policy Committee Co-Chair Erin Albright explains that Freedom Network USA can tailor its advocacy efforts to specific agencies and move forward on working towards enhancing problem areas from the TIP Report. “It provides a good springboard for our advocacy efforts because it highlights what has been done over the year, as well as what areas need work,” she said. The Freedom Network USA has submitted a brief written response to the State Department, which can be accessed here.
To learn more, contact Freedom Network USA National Coordinator Melinda Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org