Far Too Socially Distant: Trafficking in Persons Policy Responses for Governments in the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

By USCRI March 24, 2021

There are few places on earth nor facets of human life that the COVID-19 pandemic has not touched. From the empty, ghost town-like streets of Toronto’s financial district to the shuttered kibbeling stands in the Grote Markt of Amsterdam to the world’s largest airport, Beijing Daxing International, now quiet with its few masked passengers moving silently in huge, eerily empty terminals meant to hold thousands – all have been impacted by COVID- 19. Yet, as with all negative world phenomena, not all groups are affected equally.

In a time where the world’s population is encouraged to remain isolated from one another, victims of trafficking in persons, and those who are vulnerable to becoming victims, are far too socially distant.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, trafficking was an already significant issue, with increasing numbers of victims detected over the past 15 years.1 In February 2021, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its global biennial report stating that nearly 50,000 victims of trafficking in persons were detected in 135 countries during the reporting period of 2016-2018.2 And, due to the underre- ported, under-detected, and under-prosecuted nature of the crime, this figure is likely much larger.3 To illustrate, in 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 40.3 million people actively live situations of trafficking.4 Furthermore, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number and pro- file of victims and the accompanying lack of detections are expected to increase and change in different ways.

Read full report USCRI-Policy-Trafficking-mar22-version

For a copy of the summary of key recommendations USCRI-Policy-Covid-Trafficking-Brief-Key-Findings-Mar2021

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