Human Trafficking in Nigeria
Human trafficking in Nigeria is an issue that requires improvement. Human trafficking, commonly defined as a form of modern-day slavery, is an issue that affects individuals globally. The Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) provides global human trafficking data that governments can use to enforce laws and aid victims. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is one of the laws that the U.S. government enforced to convict traffickers and prevent further cases.

A four-tier ranking system, included in the TIP Report, classifies the extent of government efforts in reducing human trafficking, based on the standards that the TVPA states. For example, Tier 1 ranked countries have made significant efforts in fighting human trafficking while Tier 3 ranked countries have not made any significant efforts according to TVPA standards. In 2020, the Trafficking in Persons Report noted that Nigeria has Tier 2 status, which means that it does not meet TVPA standards in fighting human trafficking but is making significant efforts. One reason why Nigeria ranks on the Tier 2 watch list is that it did not always provide protection to victims. If Nigeria continues to rank on the Tier 2 watch list, it will obtain the lowest category, Tier 3, which would result in some government foreign aid restrictions, according to the TVPA.

The Situation in Nigeria

Though Nigeria is rich with natural resources, several issues exist such as a lack of job opportunities, social injustices, exclusion and discrimination. All of these make many individuals vulnerable to human trafficking. Due to weak child protection laws and family protection services, many women and children are subject to exploitation. Traffickers most commonly smuggle these victims of human trafficking in Nigeria into foreign countries. The U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has found Nigerian trafficking victims in more than 34 countries, with most of them in Europe.

Some causes of human trafficking in Nigeria include globalization, corruption and gender inequality. Globalization results in traffickers setting up routes that allow for easier transportation and minimizes prosecution. Corruption within government allows for bribery of individuals employed in government institutions, also minimizing the prosecution of traffickers. Gender inequality is also a major issue in Nigeria. Gender inequality results in women being less educated and living in poverty more often than not. Individuals living in poverty are more susceptible to human trafficking because of the desire to escape poverty which traffickers exploit.

Preventative Measures

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) is working with the Nigerian government to establish anti-trafficking measures. NAPTIP promotes public awareness among the population to identify what human trafficking looks like and to educate about the scale of the issue. NAPTIP also enforces prosecution measures with anti-trafficking laws that criminalize the act of sex and labor trafficking. The anti-trafficking law, the Trafficking in Persons’ Law Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPLEAA), creates a penalty of imprisonment of at least two years and a charged fine. Also, non-governmental organizations that are dedicated to raising awareness campaigns and other rehabilitation and reintegration systems for aid to survivors of human trafficking in Nigeria have created several programs.

In addition to the preventative measures that the government and NAPTIP, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) joined the efforts in combating human trafficking in Nigeria. Travel by air is the main form of transportation for human trafficking, as the data that traffickers moved 20% of 225,000 victims worldwide by plane between 2003 and 2016 shows, according to the UNODC 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. To decrease this number of people becoming victims of trafficking, UNODC, NAPTIP and the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) set up initiatives to inform the public of the issue and create opportunities for airline workers to stop potential traffickers. To achieve the mutual goal, in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs provided a $400,000 grant to aid in the education of the public on human trafficking.

Additional Support

One way in which Nigeria is combating human trafficking is through an app called iReport. The Nigeria anti-trafficking agency created the iReport app in 2003. It allows its users to report and alert the local authorities about cases of human trafficking that they witness. In 2018, reports determined that the app resulted in the conviction of traffickers in 359 cases since its launch.

Human trafficking also results in long-term mental and physical health issues for victims, which the Nigerian government’s measures are also addressing. Further aid in the form of shelters and rehabilitation is available for victims. Though these measures are in place, they are not of high-quality standards, which makes them ineffective. NAPTIP shelters house both victims of human trafficking in Nigeria and other survivors of violence. These mixed shelters make it difficult to aid trafficking survivors in their own specific needs and undermine the scale of the issue. Also, shelters often have poor living conditions, according to several accounts from women and children survivors. Reform is necessary for several areas of the Nigerian government and NAPTIP to not only improve essential recovery services but also to strengthen community efforts to decrease instances of human trafficking.

– Simone Riggins
Photo: Pixabay

Human Trafficking in Tunisia
Human trafficking in Tunisia is prevalent, while also existing in several other countries. Trafficking has three parts including the act of moving an individual, manipulating an individual’s free will and using an individual for exploitation.

The Situation

Between April 2019 and February 2020, the National Authority identified 1,313 trafficking victims from among the potential victims that some government agencies referred to it along with 780 victims that the previous reporting period identified. Tunisia is a destination for human trafficking involving forced labor and forced prostitution, where traffickers coerce or manipulate individuals to work under no contract for less than minimum wage.

Trafficking is a large topic of world discussion. Most victims in Tunisia are children, women and people with disabilities. Women and young girls are the most at risk of becoming victims of trafficking in Tunisia. Traffickers force the victims into a domestic servitude partnership or involvement in criminal activities. Due to the severity of human trafficking in Tunisia, many new tactics have emerged to tackle the issue. Here are seven facts about human trafficking in Tunisia.

7 Facts About Human Trafficking in Tunisia

  1. Tunisia passed an anti-human trafficking law. In July 2019, the government of Tunisia started making procedures and guidelines for the National Authority and four other trafficking commissions to put more focus on monitoring, testing, studying, developing and tracking trafficking victims’ cases. The new law will criminalize sex and labor trafficking. Thus far, the new law has helped identify victims of human trafficking in Tunisia and push victimizers into the courtroom to undergo prosecution. The Tunisian government is also making efforts to address human labor trafficking recruitment practices. The Agency for Placement Abroad in Private Establishments (EPPA) filed 30 complaints to private employers for cases of fraud, extortion or abuses of Tunisian workers. The Tunisian government has officially requested that the Ministry of Women shut down the seven private employers that are recruiting Tunisian workers without proper EPPA registration.
  2. The National Authority created an anti-trafficking efforts website in February 2020. This online platform helps to provide education on how to stop and fight against human trafficking. This website is open to anyone who is a victim of human trafficking or has witnessed someone be a victim of human trafficking. The website includes a human trafficking hotline, education for health care professionals on red flags, shelter resources and more. To date, the website has aided trafficking victims so that they can receive medical and social support.
  3. More accountability exists for traffickers in Tunisia. Tunisia has implemented an increase in trafficking investigations. Tunisia increased its investigations in 2016 due to the passing of new legislation in July of that year. Human trafficking in Tunisia now has a punishment of 10 years in prison and a 50,000 Tunisian dinar fine, or $16,620 USD for cases with adult victims. Meanwhile, trafficking cases involving children in Tunisia are now punishable with 15 years in prison and a fine of 50,000-100,000 Tunisian dinar or $16,620-$33,230 USD. Tunisian law enforcement has worked on the implementation of several anti-trafficking laws as well.
  4. Human trafficking victims in Tunisia can receive legal assistance with protection and medical care. When Tunisia adopted legislation in August 2016, it started providing medical and social help for victims of all types of human trafficking. Tunisia is currently working on providing employment to victims as well. It has also assured rights to protection and medical services for human trafficking victims. The Ministry of Health runs hospitals in Tunis that have units with trained personnel committed to helping victims of trafficking in Tunisia. Additionally, Tunisia has dedicated 79 centers to trafficked youth in Tunisia and another three for men. These centers have provided health care to 69 foreign and local trafficking victims. Moreover, the Ministry of Social Affairs gave psychological and socio-economic assistance to 83 victims.
  5. The U.N. and Tunisia hosted workshops to aid in the fight against human trafficking. The Tunisian Ministries of Justice and Interior worked along with the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) to hold three-day workshops called “Capacity-Building for the Fight against Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling in Tunisia.” These workshops operated from April 16, 2013, to December 31, 2018, with the purpose of addressing topics like identifying human trafficking, judicial considerations, protection and help for victims and international assistance in fighting the problem of human trafficking in Tunisia. The meetings tried to dismantle the trafficking systems by implementing new tactics. The session of meetings led to Tunisia drafting anti-trafficking legislation.
  6. National victims referral mechanisms aid in rescuing Tunisian trafficking victims. The new national victim’s referral mechanism in Tunisia is helping trafficking victims. These new centers, which work to specifically target victims of human trafficking in Tunisia, utilize national hotline systems. Tunisia has used the network to rescue over 150 victims.
  7. Governmental efforts create positive changes for trafficking operation investigations. From 2014 to 2018, the number of victims Tunisia identified increased from 59 cases to 780 cases with a significant number of those cases being foreigners. A judge ended up overseeing 31 of the cases with one case ending with a conviction. Four of the cases against human trafficking in Tunisia will now undergo criminal prosecution, while the rest require further investigation.

Looking Ahead

The Tunisian government is steadily working toward reducing human trafficking. Tunisia is making victimizers more accountable and providing victims with further protective resources, while national organizations like the U.N. are stepping in to lend a helping hand. The fight to ending human trafficking is long but Tunisia is headed in the right direction.

– Libby Keefe
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Bulgaria
Today, human trafficking in Bulgaria exploits both foreigners and Bulgarian citizens in an ongoing trade for sex, free labor and forced begging. This small Eastern European country is one of the main sources of human trafficking in the entire E.U. Traffickers transport people, mostly women, from Bulgaria to Sweden, France and other countries in Western Europe.

The Status of Human Trafficking in Bulgaria

The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons tracks countries’ efforts to eradicate this form of “modern slavery,” and sets worldwide standards to follow. A 2020 report noted that while Bulgaria does not yet meet the minimum international standards to eliminate trafficking, the country is making immense progress. As a result, Bulgaria has a Tier 2 standing.

According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the tier system comprises of three tiers:

  • Tier 1: A government complies fully with the minimum requirements to eliminate severe forms of human trafficking.
  • Tier 2: A government does not comply fully with minimum requirements, but is making significant efforts to do so.
  • Tier 3: A government does not comply and is not making efforts to do so.

The People’s Struggle

The majority of victims of human trafficking in Bulgaria are from marginalized communities, most often Bulgarians of Turkish and Romani descent. These communities are more vulnerable than other groups because of their minority status, prolific poverty and history of discrimination in the country.

Even now, many European countries discriminate against Roma in particular. Reliable numbers of Roma and other marginalized communities are difficult to find, as these populations are often disincentivized from self-identifying. Estimates put the current percentage of Roma in Bulgaria anywhere from 5% to 21%. However, Bulgaria has one the largest populations of Roma in the world.

Despite this exposure to the culture, anti-Roma attitudes are prevalent and widely accepted. The prejudice against them exacerbates poverty and restricts access to health care and education, leading to higher rates of incarceration and greater vulnerability to crimes such as human trafficking.

Fighting for Human Rights

While the Bulgarian government struggles to initiate policies that ensure due process for human traffickers, accountability for corrupt law enforcement and proper victim identification, other contenders do their best to pick up the slack. NGOs and nonprofit organizations across Europe recognize the human rights crisis in Bulgaria and are stepping up to the plate.

In 1994, two women founded the Animus Association to support women who survive traumatic and violent events. Today, it organizes projects aimed at successful communication and gender equality in Bulgaria.

In a recent project dubbed TOLERANT, the Animus Association partnered with programs in Greece, Romania, Italy and Austria to promote employment opportunities for women who experienced sex trafficking. This project, though set back with the emergence of COVID-19, inspired the installation of a permanent program called the National Program for Prevention and Counteraction to Human Trafficking and Protection of Victims.

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Bulgaria’s largest human rights group, runs a variety of projects and campaigns prioritizing respect, the protection of vulnerable populations and informing the public on important issues. In some cases, the committee provides free legal aid to victims of human rights violations. In 2019 alone, the committee represented people in 64 different cases. One of these was a case representing a minor victim of gang rape. It also closely monitors human rights violations in the country for documentation and research.

These organizations, along with many others, are the people’s tools for abolishing human rights crises like human trafficking in Bulgaria and all of Europe. Similar to the ACLU or NAACP of the U.S., programs that begin as small grassroots movements can grow to influence governments on a national and even international scale.

Power to Heal

While some organizations focus directly on the issues at hand, others take a more nuanced and preventative approach. Programs like the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) support disadvantaged communities by giving them a voice. ERIAC regularly provides opportunities for jobs and access to symposiums and events specifically for Roma. Through the celebration of art, history and culture, individuals become empowered to affect change and positive development in their own communities.

As communities begin to heal from the generational and ongoing trauma, the hope is to continue that healing outwards. ERIAC founders believe that exposure to art, personal narratives and examples of success will decrease prejudice and ignorance by educating the wider population. In addition to providing a platform for artists, all membership fees go directly to the winner of the Tajsa Prize. ERIAC awards this prize annually to an emerging artist who embodies the aspirations of ERIAC, using their art to lift up their communities.

There is a long way to go before Bulgaria eradicates human trafficking, but in the meantime, Bulgarian citizens are finding their own ways to combat this violence. Nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations are emerging to do the work that needs doing, advocating for the country’s citizens in a myriad of ways. Healing can happen even in the midst of adversity, and the amplification of the voices and culture of survivors is an essential part of this process.

– Kari Millstein
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Human Trafficking in Germany
Human trafficking remains a major element of the world economy, despite the efforts of governments and international organizations to eradicate it. Traffickers traffick humans for a wide range of reasons, from forced manual labor to sexual slavery. In countries like Germany, a major European hub for immigration, human trafficking is particularly problematic. Here are five key facts to know about human trafficking in Germany.

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in Germany

  1. Sex-related Trafficking: The majority of victims of human trafficking in Germany underwent trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Furthermore, sex trafficking in Germany disproportionately affects young women, including minors. Victims of sex trafficking in Germany are most likely to originate from Romania, Bulgaria, Nigeria or Germany itself, meaning that traffickers tend to target immigrants. This is likely due to the fact that immigrants in Germany are far more likely to live in poverty than German citizens. Illegal immigrants are even more at risk, as coming forward could result in their own prosecution.
  2. Germany and E.U. Recommendations: In 2013, Germany failed to implement European Union regulations regarding human trafficking into national law. This came after a two-year effort by the E.U. to implore its member states to adopt these regulations, which included tougher sentences and better protection for victims of human trafficking. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the government chose not to implement the E.U. recommendations because it did not extend existing jurisdiction on human trafficking to cases of sex trafficking.
  3. Germany has Received Criticism for Being too Lax on Trafficking: Non-governmental organizations have criticized Germany for not implementing strict enough laws on human trafficking. UNICEF Germany pointed out that under German law, convicting someone on the basis of forced prostitution is very difficult. Because German law places the burden of proof on the victim, traffickers can intimidate and blackmail victims so that they do not come forward.
  4. Human Trafficking in Germany and U.S. Recommendations: The U.S. government has recommended that Germany take certain steps to improve its response to human trafficking. These steps include revising the law concerning the burden of proof, because of the way it obstructs human trafficking victims from coming forward. It also recommended that Germany improve its apparatus for survivors of sex trafficking. These improvements could include better housing services on humanitarian grounds for victims. The U.S. government classifies Germany as a Tier 2 country, meaning that Germany does not entirely meet the minimum standards that the U.S. government recommends to fight human trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so.
  5. Immigration and Trafficking in Germany: Germany remains a hub for immigrants from all across Europe, Africa and Asia. As a result, Germany has a relatively strict policy regarding illegal immigrants. However, Germany’s strict laws on immigration have proven to damage the country’s efforts to counteract human trafficking. Underage immigrant sex workers who interact with German authorities often get into legal trouble for immigrating illegally, regardless of their status as a victim of human trafficking.
  6. Germany’s Success in Fighting Human Trafficking: Germany has had some major victories in its fight against human trafficking. In 2017, the German government increased victim protection efforts, as well as placing human trafficking specialists in immigration offices across the country. Additionally, the government helps to fund KOK, a German NGO that fights sex trafficking and protects migrants’ rights. The government increased KOK’s funding each year from 2016 to 2019. KOK lobbies nationally and internationally to make positive progress in its mission.

Looking Ahead

Despite Germany’s status as a standard-bearer for the E.U., it has a checkered record regarding human trafficking. While Germany’s protocols on human trafficking exceed the basic United States standards for the elimination of trafficking, there are areas in which the country could manage human trafficking better. Particularly, Germany’s large immigrant population provides a vulnerable target group for human traffickers.

– Leo Ratté
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Human Trafficking in Yemen
The story of Yemen has been more bitter than sweet in recent years. A multinational proxy war that has become disguised as a civil war has landed the country into the illustrious label of “worst humanitarian crisis.” While many experts understand the deep-rooted complexity of the Yemeni disaster, few acknowledge the many equitable woes, such as human trafficking, that have emerged from the other larger issues. The numbers on human trafficking in Yemen are very unclear due to the lawlessness throughout the country but NGOs reported many Yemeni populations being at risk because of the armed conflict and economic conditions. Whether it be a migrant in search of work or a soldier fighting in the conflict, the voyage is dangerous and the process is unfair.

Human Trafficking and African Migrants

Saudi Arabia has the largest economy out of all the Arab states due to its large petroleum reserves. This attracts many migrants from east Africa, specifically Somalia and Ethiopia, who are searching for opportunities that are harder to come by in their own countries. In order to reach Saudi Arabia, they have to cross the Red Sea into Yemen and travel north to the border which requires a complex network of smugglers to organize travel and get them entry into the Saudi Arabian border. Approximately 138,000 people, mostly Ethiopians, crossed the Red Sea in 2019. However, those numbers reduced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conflict in Yemen has allowed these smugglers to thrive from the lawlessness. But the conflict adds an increased level of danger and those individuals who decide to make the trek across the Red Sea and through Yemen must put themselves at the mercy of a smuggler. Additionally, the fighting along the border, as well as road closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have made it difficult to get into Saudi Arabia. As a result, many end up having to stay in Yemen with no money or communication with family back home.

Houthi Control

Some migrants get close to reaching the Saudi Arabian border in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen but if Houthis catch them, they frequently have to remain in Yemen with very few ways of leaving. Migrants that Houthis catch experience arrest and must pay an “exit fee” for which they can then go back down south to the edge of Houthi control. At this point, they do not have money or work and thus become stuck in Yemen.

Some migrants face even worse fates if Houthis catch them. Upon arrival, many go to Yemeni detention centers where they wait for their family back home to send a ransom while they experience torture and abuse.

Human Trafficking and Soldier Recruitment

Internationally denounced, many Yemeni end up fighting in the ongoing conflict, with Saudi Arabia having a large role in the recruiting. Recruiters receive pay for each person they send to the Saudi Arabian border, but oftentimes those who undergo recruitment are young soldiers who live in tough circumstances making it easy for others to exploit them. The situation has received the description of “a trafficking of youth souls at the port, just like livestock.”

Recruits end up in terrible conditions and they have to fight to survive. Once they arrive at the recruitment camp, they can only leave if they obtain an injury or participate in a collective protest. Additionally, they can experience detention in prisons if they try to escape. At one point, Houthi forces bombed a prison with detainees that attempted to escape the fighting, resulting in the detainees’ deaths. For many, the only option for escape is to pay a smuggler. This dangerous cycle for a recruited soldier makes human trafficking in Yemen a lucrative business.

Actions to Stop Human Trafficking in Yemen

Because of the lack of control Yemen has over its own country due to the conflict, poor economy, lack of basic institutions and many other problems, it is not taking enough tangible steps to help curb the business of human trafficking. However, one small group battling the problem is the Yemen Organization for Combating Human Trafficking, which emerged in 2009.

Responses from the international community and the U.S. government are the most crucial in helping stop the problem. UNICEF published a paper focused on the issue and the policy proposals that it has determined would be the most effective. Those proposals focused on eliminating the supply and demand of the trafficking business as well as recommending governmental responses both regionally and around the world that would target families vulnerable to trafficking.

The Yemeni government repeatedly recognizes this as a problem and has made anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts but it is clear that it requires more attention. Until more international involvement with a focus on diplomatic steps to bring peace to Yemen emerges, human trafficking will thrive under the chaos. President Biden recently announced the U.S. would be ending support to Saudi Arabia for its offensive efforts in Yemen. One will have to wait and see whether that will have any significant impact on bringing peace to the country and curbing the demand for human trafficking. However, at least it is one positive stride in comparison to other approaches thus far.

– Stephen Blake Illes
Photo: Flickr

Human trafficking in Niger
Niger has experienced slave-based exploitation due to the border crossing between it and Libya, a key launching point for human traffickers. However, the Nigerien borders are not the root issues. A Nigerien anti-slavery organization, Timidria, found that various Niger officials, who the country chose to combat human trafficking in Niger, may have slaves in their own households.

Overview

Ilguilas Weila, a Niger native, founded Timidria in 1991. Together with Anti-Slavery International, Timidria has been standing at the forefront seeking to protect more than 40,000 lost, unidentified and identified victims of inherited slavery and trafficking. This is its printed testimony:

“It clearly emerged from this review that the failure of slavery prosecutions had less to do with litigation itself than to external elements, particularly the influence of traditional chiefs and social hierarchies on judges’ decisions and disputations between customary and statutory law.”

This is a credible statement depicting the Nigerien government’s failure to identify, prosecute and convict traffickers, as it has failed to identify the ones among them.

Timidrias’ Success

In 2003, the anti-slavery organization gained much praise for its contributions to the Nigerien Anti-Slavery enacted Law 2003-25. Timidria also promoted efforts to fund a governmental 2019 Child Protection Committee in each commune in order to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. In 2019, Niger’s supreme court ruling also declared wahaya, the traditional practice of selling and trading young girls as fifth wives, an illegal act in 2019. Unfortunately, the news is yet to reach the majority of Nigerien citizens, a concern that left many victims trembling. Critics report that the government has made no efforts to identify and prosecute families who practice such practices.

What Makes Niger Vulnerable to Human Trafficking?

Niger underwent conflicts relating to the criminalization of traditional slavery that wealthy Tuaregs most invoke, some of whom serve in government seats. This includes Prime Minister Rafini who shares a Tuareg descent although no indication claims that he practices slave-ownership. The Tuareg tribe participates in various traditional and slave-based practices against children. A known practice is wahaya where little girls become trafficking victims by ending up in marriages as fifth wives or slavery. Meanwhile, talibés are young boys who traffickers place in slavery and extreme labor such as mining and cattle herding. Despite the 2003 slavery abolition, Timidria adduced that “children in {descent-based} slavery are considered to be the property of their master and face a lifetime of forced, unpaid labour and abuse.” Out of the thousand Wahaya crimes that underwent identification over the years, Timidria is only aware of one single conviction.

Government’s Role in Human Trafficking in Niger

The anti-slavery organization stated that “the implementation of the law criminalizing slavery has been inadequate and prosecutions for slavery are rare. Government alliances with the religious and political elites among the Tuareg tribes (traditionally slave-owning) is the root cause of Niger’s vulnerability.” The current President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and current Prime Minister, Brigi Rafini have both been in office since April 2011, serving 10 years as lawmakers. The 2020 Human Development Index ranked Niger at the bottom of the list caused by Niger’s late criminalization of slavery.

Similarly, reporters have described events involving seeing “women displaying the heavy brass anklets they had been forced to wear to prevent them from escaping.” Oftentimes, these women’s knowledge of laws and rights is limited in their areas, especially with no education or help in sight.

The Niger government has strained the workload of Timidria by the failure to identify government officials’ role in slavery-ownership. Despite this, Timidria is present all throughout Niger. It has over 680 offices in villages and camps, 182 offices in rural and urban communities and a growing legal team among its 300,000 members and supporters. This makes it crucially important for the organizations, with or without government assistance, to raise awareness of slavery that lingers underneath the heavy stigma of oppression.

– Ayesha Swaray
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in El Salvador
Over the last decade, Central America has been notorious for drug cartels and a hotspot for human trafficking. The country also has an enriching culture with people who deserve a fighting chance at eradicating human trafficking in El Salvador.

According to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, El Salvador has a Tier 2 status, meaning the government is striving to eradicate human trafficking but does not fully meet the minimum standards for complete elimination. El Salvador recorded 124 victims in comparison to 74 victims in 2019. The main demographic of human trafficking victims in El Salvador are minors and women, or more specifically, minors and women who are immigrants and have no legal documents.

Improving Investigations into Human Trafficking in El Salvador

In November 2019, the “Reginal Seminar on Investigation Techniques and Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Persons” met with experts from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the countries that make up the Northern Central America Triangle. The main goal was to improve practices regarding investigations into human trafficking, especially in relation to its transnational nature.

“In El Salvador, more than 1,000 members of the police have been trained through 45 workshops and seminars — lasting from two to five days — hosted by international organizations like Save the Children, World Police Agency Interpol, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration, and others,” said Jaime Armando Lopez and Xiomara Orellana, journalists covering the human trafficking rates in El Salvador, published in an Insight Crime article.

Training includes a manual that organizations such as Save the Children, World Police Agency Interpol, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration and others provide to inform officers of what a typical victim may look like and how to assess the situation so as to prevent others from becoming trafficking victims. The officers also receive training on how to report trafficking so as to eradicate it.

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report for 2020, the anti-trafficking council implemented 19 offices in 15 municipalities to inform about human trafficking and aid victims. Additionally, El Salvador’s 2018 Inter-Institutional Action Protocol for the Immediate Comprehensive Care of Trafficking Victims provided an outline regarding what government agencies’ responsibilities in responding to trafficking victims should be.

Continuing Efforts

Aid continues to flow towards eradicating human trafficking in El Salvador. Officials received training in order to educate and equip each officer with the right tools to handle any situation that may involve a trafficking victim. They are aiming to provide legal frameworks around protecting minors who are child laborers or trafficking victims.

El Salvador, and many Central American countries, are continuing their fight against human trafficking. Eradicating human trafficking seems like a long-haul but setting preventative measures as well as post-care can encourage others to educate and help those who may be victims of trafficking.

“According to El Salvador’s national child protection council, the country’s capital only has one shelter exclusively for underage trafficking victims. Across the country, there are 15 offices that deal with human trafficking cases in different provinces. There are few places where survivors of human trafficking can receive specialized attention in the Northern Triangle,” said Jaime Armando Lopez and Xiomara Orellana of Insight Crime.

Steps to eradicate human trafficking in El Salvador should be more aggressive as victims have become widespread between those who are minors, undocumented women and victims of domestic abuse. El Salvador has limited shelters, but it is essential that more are within reach for victims.

– Vanessa Morales
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Mozambique
The exploitation of human beings for labor and sex reduces individuals to property and demands that governments address these trafficking monopolies through policy and prosecution. Typically, the nation of Mozambique struggles to castigate the human trafficking rings within its borders; however, both international groups, as well as the national government itself, recognized significant improvement within 2020. According to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, the government in Mozambique significantly expanded the effort to combat human trafficking through national awareness and new education standards.

The Situation

Human trafficking involves the movement of victims across borders and forced labor–particularly child labor. Without parental support to protect them, orphaned children frequently live in constant fear of exploitation. According to UNICEF, the orphan population in Mozambique numbers roughly 2 million children, and another 700,000 children live fearing abandonment due to a variety of causes. Even in light of its substantial progress, Mozambican society consists of historically rooted gender roles. Thus, orphaned girls live with the highest levels of instability, vulnerable to forced marriages or transactional sex at young ages. Most of the young victims of human trafficking in Mozambique work in agriculture, mining or forced domestic work. Traffickers lure children from rural areas with promises of education and employment enticing families to send children away with hope in the opportunities available in urban life.

The U.S. Department of State recognizes Mozambique as a “source, transit, and destination” for trafficked victims with the city of Maputo linked to rings reaching South Africa. In addition to the orphaned population, individuals with albinism identify as the most threatened population.

Unfortunately, weak infrastructure overshadows any successes the country made within 2020. While an action plan against human trafficking in Mozambique has emerged, the implementation of this policy generally fails to meet international standards and decrease the number of victims trafficked. However, 2020 witnessed an improvement in the prosecution of trafficking crimes and increased training for designated front-line workers to recognize and work on such cases. National awareness campaigns continue to bring this issue to light, exposing the presence of trafficking rings and highlighting the government’s goals to implement better policy.

Improving Education Standards

One government strategy involves developing new education standards, which requires a transformation of national infrastructure and policy. From 2014-2015, around 46.1% of the population lived in extreme poverty, an improvement from 2003 with 58.6% impoverished. Yet after two major tropical cyclones in 2019, UNFP reported that the economic situation had worsened considerably. Furthermore, the lack of economic security often results in the utilization of child labor to increase profits. While the solution to this issue is multifaceted, the nation is developing new ways to address it.

As the World Bank noted, Mozambique has begun a results-based approach to finance improvements with the intention of enhancing education and health through workforce development and the extension of education. Ideally, this will incentivize cities to implement these new educational strategies to send their children to school and equip them for the future. By providing Mozambican children with education and encouraging them to recognize that they are capable of more, they will have the ability to evade the common lures of human traffickers. When children attend school, they are less likely to feel forced into accepting any form of employment for survival and thus become less vulnerable targets for human trafficking rings.

Child Labor

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor stated that 22.5% of Mozambique’s population between the ages of 5 to 14 are working, while only 69.5% of children within this age group attend school. Of this 69.5%, only 52% complete their education. While the government has enacted policies such as the Prohibition of Child Trafficking in the most recent Penal Code that Mozambique enacted in June 2020 to push back against the predatory nature of human trafficking, the country has consistently struggled to adapt the infrastructure necessary to enforce these policies. The lack of manpower in the justice system limits its effectiveness and leaves a gap in Mozambique’s ability to prevent further trafficking.

Since child labor policies repeatedly fail to meet international standards, Mozambique has raised the legal working age to 15 years old to encourage children under this age to attend school. However, this gesture has proven ineffectual, as the lack of significant literacy improvement has shown — likely a result of an insufficient number of labor inspectors in ratio to the number of people in the workforce. As of October 2020, the Global Education Monitoring Report launched a program implementing new national and international education goals in Mozambique. These goals emphasize accountability measures to improve the availability and quality of education. “Inclusion and education: all without expectation” is a common theme throughout this report, signaling a desire to not only change the educational institutions but the social expectations.

Improving Female Education

Expanding education for women is one promising method of inclusion that has the potential to increase literacy. The disparity between the opportunities that men and women receive often leaves women vulnerable and void of choices regarding the direction of their lives. As many in Mozambique still consider child marriage a socially accepted practice, Girls often marry between the ages of 15 and 18, and after marriage, education is no longer an option. To encourage more consistent female enrollment in schools, the government must address child marriages and protect the rights of women to pursue academic careers. According to UNESCO, educating women builds lasting change because they can invest the money they earn into their children and prepare them for a more prosperous future.

The government in Mozambique must continue working to provide more effective means of identifying and protecting victims of human trafficking. However, the improvements already beginning in education signal the achievability of change and expanded hope for a bright future within Mozambique.

– Katherine Lucht
Photo: Unsplash

Human Trafficking in South Sudan
The Republic of South Sudan is a nation that has continuously dealt with longstanding conflict and instability. As a result, conflict-related, sexually violent crimes throughout the country have had an unwavering presence while human trafficking in South Sudan is also prevalent. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) documented 224 cases of sexual violence affecting 133 women, 19 men, 66 girls and six boys in 2019. Past violent incidents in the country, taking place between 2014 and 2018, affected 55 women and 26 girls, according to the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Report of the United Nations Secretary-General.

The Republic of South Sudan has yet to make significant progress in eliminating the human trafficking problem that threatens the country. This has caused the nation to remain in the Tier 3 category according to the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons report for 2020. Countries that fall within the Tier 3 category risk possible restrictions and the loss of U.S. assistance. The following are five facts about human trafficking in South Sudan that can help motivate action, as well as raise awareness of the threats and dangers that so many throughout the country experience.

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in South Sudan

  1. Traffickers most frequently sexually exploit women in South Sudan’s capital–Juba–as well as Nimule, a city in the country that borders Uganda. Beyond this, South Sudanese women and girls are vulnerable to domestic servitude throughout the country. It is not uncommon for male occupants of the household to sexually abuse the women of the house or force them to engage in commercial sex acts.
  2. Both domestic and foreign victims are at risk of human traffickers exploiting them in South Sudan. Organized networks of traffickers cut across North, Central and East Africa and leave East African migrants and those transiting through South Sudan vulnerable to abduction, sex trafficking and forced labor.
  3. Orphaned children in South Sudan experience an increased risk of trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation. For example, unaccompanied minors in refugee camps or internally displaced children are particularly in danger of traffickers abducting them.
  4. Some factors prevent victims from reporting traffickers. Internal factors such as social stigma and fear of punishment can often discourage victims of trafficking from reporting the crimes and transgressions that traffickers committed against them to the government’s law enforcement officers.
  5. The government of the Republic of South Sudan thus far has had limited success in implementing proper strategies to address the dangers of human trafficking. Increasing the rule of law and ensuring that investigations translate into arrests and prosecutions is just one step the government must take to eliminate its trafficking problem. As the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Report of the United Nations Secretary-General noted, “Strengthening the capacity of national rule of law institutions is critical in order to advance credible and inclusive accountability processes for past crimes, as well as for prevention and deterrence of future crimes.”

Looking Ahead

Despite persistent challenges, progress in combating the human trafficking problem in the Republic of South Sudan occurred in 2019. With support from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, over 700 officers of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, as well as 150 SPLA-IO/RM (the pro-Riek Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition) officers, received training focused on legal frameworks prohibiting the use of sexual violence. The SPLA-IO/RM also issued four command orders, with one of these orders instructing its commanders to form committees to investigate cases of sexual violence.

UNMISS continues to work with local commanders to encourage the release and referral of abducted women and children to appropriate support structures. Political advocacy is persistent and ongoing to secure the release of all female and child trafficking victims and reduce human trafficking in South Sudan.

 – Elisabeth Petry
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Hong KongHuman trafficking is a persistent problem all around the world, including in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region located in the People’s Republic of China. The Justice Centre Hong Kong produced a study in 2016 on human trafficking in Hong Kong and it was found that one in six of the 370,000 migrant workers in the city were forced labor victims. While Hong Kong does take steps to eradicate human trafficking, it is important to study human trafficking in every region of the world so that it can be prevented in the future.

Recent Changes and Legislation

Lawmakers in Hong Kong proposed that the government pass an anti-slavery bill based on Great Britain’s “Modern Slavery Act.” However, two of those lawmakers, Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung, were removed from Parliament, leaving many questioning whether the bill would ever get passed. A member of The Mekong Club, a group in Hong Kong dedicated to fighting modern slavery said, “There is little chance that this important bill will move forward.” This, in conjunction with the current protests in Hong Kong likely means that lawmakers have had little time to focus on anti-human trafficking legislation.

Another recent development on human trafficking in the nation is that in mid-2020 the U.S. demoted Hong Kong from Tier 2 on the Trafficking in Persons Report to Tier 2 Watch List, suggesting that Hong Kong “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” The government of Hong Kong disputed the U.S. human trafficking report’s claims, arguing that the report was not based on evidence and looks at minor flaws rather than the big picture.

Hong Kong’s Approach to Resolving Human Trafficking

One problem with the nation’s current anti-human trafficking legislation is that the city only defines human trafficking as “involving cross-border sex trafficking for prostitution,” which means the legislation does not cover “labor exploitation, debt bondage, domestic servitude or similar practices.” Unfortunately, the legal system can make it difficult for those who are trafficked in Hong Kong to get the help they need or support from legal authorities.

While anti-human trafficking laws could be amended, lawmakers and academics have shown there are creative solutions to the problem. Reed Smooth Richards Butler, a law firm, worked with Liberty Asia, an anti-slavery charity, to create the Legal Gap Analysis report, which explains how other laws can be used to persecute human traffickers. For example, individuals responsible could be arrested for false imprisonment rather than human trafficking directly. Creative efforts like these are important to find solutions to salient issues, including the trafficking of people.

Protecting Human Rights

While the government can certainly improve its response to human trafficking in Hong Kong, the country has implemented many measures to help reduce human trafficking and protect human rights. Human trafficking needs addressing and analyzing the nuances in human trafficking policy can help incapacitate the industry globally.

Madelynn Einhorn
Photo: Flickr