the 2020 trafficking in persons report is out - and it misses the mark

The US State Department’s TIP Report has been a useful tool for the past 20 years in global efforts to end human trafficking.

However, it is in dire need of an evolution.

The report must consider new criteria when “ranking” countries other than prosecutions and convictions. Overall, there is a huge focus on a country’s legislation and less on the systemic issues that actually contribute to human trafficking like gender inequality, systemic racism/discrimination, colonialism, homophobia, capitalism and more.

What drives people to migrate unsafely? To seek out a better life even when there are red flags? What makes a person more vulnerable to a trafficker? Why are Indigenous women particularly targeted in Canada and what narratives make it okay to ignore their disappearances? What do gender norms have to do with the sex trafficking of women and girls? Why are the most marginalized people the ones who are being trafficked the most worldwide?

These are the questions that must be analyzed and understood to truly rank a country on their efforts to end human trafficking.

In terms of country rankings (Tier 1 being the best and Tier 3 being the worst), USA has placed themselves in Tier 1 again – despite discriminatory and harmful immigration policies that are contributing to increased vulnerability of migrant workers and further silencing those who are currently being exploited. Would you seek out support as a trafficking victim if there was a risk you would be detained or have your children separated from you and held in cages?

Canada is also in Tier 1, with little mention of systemic issues in Canada that create environments of INEQUITY – which is where exploitation thrives. The Canadian section focuses more on the Canadian Criminal Code and less on human rights. Sadly, there was nothing mentioned about the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, despite the report’s numerous mentions of the connections between Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and human trafficking.

If we are to truly eradicate human trafficking, we must aim to address the root causes of exploitation and advance equity and dignity for all. It’s the only way. Aura Freedom recommends exploring a new way to rank countries that prioritizes human rights, equity and support for survivors.

Read the 2020 TIP Report here: