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Analysis of the 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report 

 The U.S. State Department considers “trafficking in persons,” “human trafficking,” and “modern slavery” to be interchangeable umbrella terms referring to the crime of coercing adults and children to perform labor or engage in commercial sex. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as amended (TVPA) requires that the Secretary of State publish an annual report analyzing government efforts to monitor and combat trafficking in all its forms. 

According to Secretary Blinken, the recently released 2022 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report “assesses how 188 countries and territories, including the United States, are performing in terms of preventing trafficking, protecting victims, and prosecuting traffickers.  That makes this one of the most comprehensive sources of information anywhere on anti-trafficking efforts by governments – what works, what doesn’t, and how we can continue to do better.”  This annual TIP Report provides an analysis of government efforts to address trafficking by giving detailed information about the problems each country faces regarding the issue in an effort to effectively gather and disseminate useful information. 

Top Takeaways from the 2022 Report: 

  • Nearly 25 million people globally are considered to be current victims of trafficking.
  • Forced labor continues to be most documented in the areas of agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, construction, and domestic work.
  • 21 countries were upgraded a tier due to their governments making significant efforts to combat trafficking within their countries and for their citizens living abroad.
  • 18 countries were downgraded a tier because they did not increase efforts to combat trafficking or have governments with state-sponsored policy or pattern of trafficking.
  • Survivor engagement has helped trafficking efforts therefore more organizations around the world are seeking survivors to serve as advisors and leaders as they are seen as valued anti-trafficking experts. With this knowledge, the report gives guidance on how to most effectively include survivors in decision making while also avoiding re-traumatization.
  • There have been promising practices amongst countries in regards to data collection, management, and dissemination. Governments are encouraged to “work to attain the necessary technological tools and create data infrastructure to effectively integrate data systems across government agencies, ensuring standardized and comprehensive collection and, as appropriate, integrate civil society datasets with confidentiality policies to protect survivors.”
  • Millions of people around the globe were forcibly displaced due to “generalized violence, human rights violations, armed conflicts, and increasing threats caused by climate change”.  This made the underserved and marginalized communities even more vulnerable to trafficking due to their lack of legal, financial, and food security.  
  • China’s trillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative” utilized infrastructure laborers from countries in Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean. Documented cases from these locations report forced labor in the form of “deceptive recruitment into debt bondage, arbitrary wage garnishing or withholding, contract irregularities, confiscation of travel and identity documentation, forced overtime, and resignation penalties, as well as intimidation and threats, physical violence, denial of access to urgent medical care, poor working and living conditions, restricted freedom of movement and communication, and retaliation for reported abuses” demonstrating how governments can also be responsible for forming patterns of trafficking.
  • In addition to China, the report includes 10 additional governments with documented “policy or pattern” of human trafficking: Afghanistan, Burma, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan.
  • It identifies corruption as one of the drivers of human trafficking. Recommendations are made for countering corruption in places where both human traffickers and corrupt officials facilitate trafficking and operate with little fear of prosecution. 

During the report’s release, Secretary Blinken stated that “The United States is committed to fighting because trafficking destabilizes societies, it undermines economies, it harms workers, it enriches those who exploit them, it undercuts legitimate business, and most fundamentally, because it is so profoundly wrong.” 

Combatting Human Trafficking has been a priority at TWG since inception so we applaud the leaders around the world who are taking steps to prioritize the eradication of trafficking by prosecuting the traffickers, protecting the vulnerable through preventative measures, and providing assistive services to the survivors of this insidious crime.  It will take federal and local governments as well as the private sector, non-profits, individuals, and advocates to effectively fight this war.  All of us must remain vigilant and stand together on behalf of those who can’t stand up for themselves. 

Bill Woolf, Principal & Strategy Consultant