The American State Department issues an annual report for human trafficking which lists 24 countries with the lowest tier for protection of human trafficking. The United States released a yearly report highlighting a threatening growth in a year-long uptick in the exploitation of boys and forced labor schemes related to Covid-19. While speaking about the report released on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the need for cooperation between governments, civil societies, and private industries, specifically tech, so proper preventive measures can be made to limit human trafficking.
Blinken stated that the United States is dedicated to fighting against human trafficking as it is a violation of human rights and freedoms. It goes against each individual’s universal right to control their own lives. Sadly, over 27 million people worldwide are currently being deprived of this fundamental right.
Following the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, there were 24 countries listed in the lowest rating, also known as “tier 3”. The US law states that governments in this category may face restrictions on foreign assistance. Some of the countries included in this category are Afghanistan, China, Venezuela, Turkmenistan, Myanmar, Belarus, Syria, Iran, and North Korea. Additionally, Algeria, Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, and Papua New Guinea are included in Tier 3. However, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have been upgraded and are no longer part of this group as of 2022.
According to the State Department, the four-tier system had 24 tier upgrades and 20 downgrades in total. Additionally, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen were designated as “special cases” due to the fact that their internationally recognized governments do not have control over significant portions of the countries.
Inter-Cooperation Of Governments is Crucial
US ambassador-at-large to observe and combat trafficking in persons, Cindy Dyer, emphasized the importance of partnerships between governments, private companies, and non-profits in combating human trafficking. She suggested that financial institutions and law enforcement collaborate to identify the financial activities of traffickers, which can provide more evidence to aid prosecution and alleviate the burden on survivors having to testify. Dyer cited the partnership between PayPal and Polaris, a non-profit that combats human trafficking, as an example. This partnership interrupts traffickers’ flow of funds and enables parallel prosecutions for financial crimes.
Global trends and shapes have changed after the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports released on Thursday explained that a behavioral shift occurred after the pandemic, and people tend to find jobs on the internet, which boosts cyber scam operations. The document further explains that after the widespread unemployment, traffickers took advantage of it and became lethal. Turkey, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ghana, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar were the top countries that suffered unemployment.
According to the report, these companies deceived people from various countries by posting false job opportunities. However, instead of fulfilling their promises, they started to exploit their workers by making them commit internet scams against foreign targets and subjecting them to different forms of abuse and violations. Additionally, boys are the “fastest-growing segment” of human trafficking victims. United Nations statistics, cited by the US Department of State, show that the proportion of boys identified as human trafficking victims increased by 500% from 2004 to 2020, which is a more significant increase than for men, women, or girls.