U.S. Embassy Kyiv
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U.S. Embassy Kyiv

2019 Trafficking in Persons Report

Читати українською

This year, President Trump proclaimed that human trafficking is a crime that threatens international and national peace, security, and public safety by undermining the rule of law, exacerbating conflict and instability, and enriching the traffickers and transnational criminal organizations that victimize an estimated 25 million people around the world.

On June 20, at the United States Department of State, Secretary Michael R. Pompeo released the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, an annual publication documenting the government efforts of 187 countries and territories, including the United States, to combat human trafficking. The theme of this year’s TIP Report introduction is “The National Nature of Human Trafficking: Strengthening Government Responses and Dispelling Misperceptions.” While not minimizing the importance of addressing transnational human trafficking, the report calls on governments to respond to all forms of human trafficking with the most comprehensive and effective measures possible. The report stresses the need for a balanced response that challenges the presumption that human trafficking requires movement or some cross-border element.

The ILO estimated that, globally, traffickers exploit 77 percent of victims in their own countries of residence. Likewise, the UNODC reported in 2018 that, for the first time ever, a majority of human trafficking victims, especially those individuals exploited in forced labor, had been identified in their countries of citizenship. Without dispute, it is time for all governments to consider what a domestic focus can mean for advancing the fight against human trafficking.

Instances of human trafficking within a country may be more characteristic of that specific country or region and examples of trafficking from one country to the next may vary greatly. The common tie and theme that must be understood by all governments is that human trafficking is happening in every part of the world; in every region, every country, every day. Governments must take proactive measures to ensure that a domestic focus is central to their anti-trafficking efforts and advance targeted steps to address human trafficking that takes place within their country’s boundaries regardless of whether there is any movement across international borders.

As this year’s introduction notes, there may be myriad reasons why a government would fail to address human trafficking that takes place domestically. Governments must have the political will to shine a light inside their nation’s borders and stop traffickers, including their own citizens, from exploiting victims, while also addressing transnational cases of trafficking.

According to this year’s report, the Government of Ukraine does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Ukraine remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by amending its anti-trafficking law, significantly increasing funds available for the implementation of the national action plan, investigating more cases of forced labor, certifying more victims, and increasing training for officials.

However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Lax sentencing, likely aggravated by corruption, meant the majority of convicted traffickers avoided imprisonment, which was inadequate to deter trafficking. The moratorium on labor inspections hampered law enforcement investigations on labor trafficking cases. International organizations continued to identify far more victims than the government, indicating inadequate identification efforts by the government and a continuing lack of trust in the government’s ability to protect victims.

Prioritized recommendations for Ukraine in this year’s TIP report included:

· Punish convicted traffickers with proportionate and dissuasive prison sentences.

· Clearly define administrative chains of responsibility and competencies of service providers throughout the decentralization process to minimize disruption in the processes of identification, referral, and assistance to trafficking victims.

· Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including public officials complicit in trafficking crimes.

· Identify and certify the status of more victims to ensure they are afforded their rights under the trafficking law and modify the procedure for granting victim status to lessen the burden on victims to self-identify and divulge sensitive information.

· Increase law enforcement investigations of recruitment firms engaged in fraudulent practices.

· Increase training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, particularly on forced labor, a victim-centered approach, and how to gather evidence outside of victims’ testimony.

· Undertake a systemic effort to implement victim-witness protection measures and take active measures to prevent intimidation of victims during legal procedures.

· Increase training for officials on victim identification, particularly in proactive screening for labor trafficking and of vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution, children in sex trafficking, foreign migrant workers, and internally displaced persons.

· Enact legislation to strengthen protections for foreign victims.

The message could not be more clear; addressing human trafficking at home takes political courage, willingness to challenge pernicious stereotypes of what human trafficking is or is not, and unwavering determination at all levels of governance.

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Embassy of the United States in Ukraine

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U.S. Embassy Kyiv

U.S. Embassy Kyiv

Embassy of the United States in Ukraine

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