State Department Says U.S. Has Work to Do in 2019 Human Trafficking Report

The U.S. is among 33 top countries fighting human trafficking but falls short in prosecuting traffickers, aiding victims and tackling forced labor in particular, the U.S. State Department said in its latest report.

Faith communities can help countries address human trafficking, which currently victimizes an estimated 25 million adults and children worldwide in sex trafficking and forced labor, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large John Cotton Richmond said in releasing the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP).

“Traffickers continue to operate with impunity and only a small fraction of victims receive trauma-informed, victim-centered support services,” said Richmond, ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons. “Yet, by working together, governments, civil society organizations, survivor advocates, and faith communities can reverse this troubling pattern.”

The TIP report annually measures nearly 200 nations on their success in fighting human trafficking within their own borders, based on practices established in the latest versions of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), and the international 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol). Most victims of human trafficking are victimized within their country of residence, the report said, although sex trafficking victims are transported internationally more often than labor victims.

The U.S. “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” the report found. “These efforts included increasing the number of convictions, increasing the amount of funding for victim services and number of victims served, continuing to seek and incorporate survivor input on human trafficking programs and policies, and launching new public outreach measures to more sectors.

“Although the government meets the minimum standards,” the State Department reported, “it opened, charged, and prosecuted fewer cases; issued fewer victims trafficking-specific immigration options, and granted fewer foreign national victims of trafficking eligibility to access benefits and services.”

The TIP report is a valuable resource for churches seeking to engage human trafficking globally, said Raleigh Sadler, a Southern Baptist who founded Let My People Go, a New York ministry equipping churches to address human trafficking.

“The report exists to educate us on what human trafficking looks like around the world and what is being done about it,” Sadler said. “For those of us in the local church, we could read the country narratives to have a better picture of what is happening in each setting. Imagine what could happen if we prayed for those in each country.” Sadler’s ministry, online at lmpgnetwork.org, offers church training through a Justice Weekend of intensive teaching on recognizing vulnerability and serving the most vulnerable; and the LMPG Experience, a missional week of teaching, service projects and other outreaches to vulnerable populations in New York. Upcoming LMPG Experience weeks are March 9-13 and 16-20 in 2020.

TIP divides countries into three tiers, with Tier 1 countries meeting minimum TVPA standards to eliminate trafficking, Tier 2 nations making significant efforts to comply with TVPA, and Tier 3 countries not making significant efforts to comply, according to the report. A Tier 2 Watch List earmarks nations that have committed to meet minimum standards, but have a significant number of people severely victimized by human trafficking and the nations are unable to provide evidence of improvements.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described human trafficking as a strain and a stain on all of humanity.

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Source: Baptist Press