Trafficking in Persons: Moving Toward a Decade of Delivery

Fact Sheet
June 27, 2011


The 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, compiled by the U.S. Department of State, assesses 184 governments, including the United States, on their efforts to combat trafficking in persons. In 2000, the United States Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which mandated this annual Report and established minimum standards for combating trafficking.

The minimum standards established by the TVPA are generally consistent with the anti-trafficking provisions outlined in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), supplementing the UN Transnational Organized Crime Convention. The Palermo Protocol focused the global community’s attention on the scourge of human trafficking and the need for nations to work together to combat it. This document enshrined the idea that all acts of trafficking in persons should be criminalized, including trafficking for forced labor, slavery, and slavery-like practices, and that government responses should incorporate the “3P” paradigm—prevention, protection, and prosecution—in their efforts to fight trafficking in persons.

What Lies Ahead in the Fight Against Modern Slavery?

In the decade following the Palermo Protocol, more than 120 countries have enacted anti-trafficking laws, and in many countries victim assistance mechanisms have been put in place. The United States and governments around the world have made the commitment to fight modern slavery wherever it exists. Now is the time for all countries to act, and to deliver on the promise of the last 10 years. If we are to build on the early successes of the modern abolitionist movement, the years ahead must be a decade of delivery.

Delivering means that it is not enough for a country just to enact a law, but rather that its government must implement that law broadly and effectively. It means that governments must strengthen and refine tools for fighting human trafficking to adapt to an evolving understanding of the crime and to the changing tactics of traffickers. It requires partnering with other governments to fight human trafficking in a comprehensive way—targeting the demand that fuels forced labor and sex trafficking. It means cracking down on fraudulent labor recruiters in sending countries, screening potential victims in at-risk populations in receiving countries, aggressively prosecuting traffickers, and providing a full range of services for survivors. It means working with the private sector and civil society to innovate new ways to combat trafficking and to develop and share promising practices.

Beyond Tier 1

While Tier 1 is the TIP Report’s highest ranking, it does not mean that a Tier 1 country is without a human trafficking problem or that its government is doing all it can to combat this crime. Rather, it means that a government is meeting the minimum benchmarks set forth in the TVPA. To make meaningful progress in the fight against human trafficking, all countries—especially those on Tier 1—must rise above the baseline standards and effect a truly comprehensive response that brings to bear government resources in an efficient and coordinated way. Such efforts can include:

  • Integration of policies to combat human trafficking at all relevant areas of policymaking and implementation, i.e., national security, criminal justice, immigration, social services, labor, procurement, and trade;
  • Adherence to international obligations, particularly those related to human rights and labor standards;
  • Intolerance of any form of commercial sexual exploitation of children;
  • Adoption of a robust labor inspection and enforcement regime backed up by both criminal and civil remedies to address labor exploitation and prevent human trafficking;
  • Education of the foreign and citizen workforce about their rights and how to access assistance in cases of abuses, including trafficking;
  • Comprehensive law enforcement training on trafficking in persons and victim identification that reaches street-level policing, immigration officials, and other front-line officials likely to encounter individuals who have experienced sex or labor trafficking;
  • Encouragement of private industries to eradicate forced labor from supply chains;
  • Programs to attack the demand for commercial sex that fuels trafficking;
  • Support for and collaboration with civil society to develop anti-trafficking responses;
  • Inclusion of the views and experiences of human trafficking survivors in the development of anti-trafficking responses;
  • Availability of health care and work permits for trafficking survivors;
  • Labor law protections that include those categories of workers most vulnerable to trafficking;
  • Permeation of human trafficking knowledge and proactive investigations at all levels of law enforcement;
  • Monitoring labor recruitment practices to prevent those working on guest worker or sponsorship systems from exploitation by recruiters; and
  • Construction of and adherence to a victim rights system that sets forth the aid, assistance, and treatment of trafficking victims.