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Human trafficking, considered a modern form of slavery, impacts tens of millions and exists in every region of the world. In 2023, an estimated 28 million individuals were trapped in modern slavery and 22 million trapped in forced marriage globally.

The Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF) Human Trafficking & Authoritarianism program explores the global state of human trafficking and its connection with authoritarianism. Over the last year, we published several reports analyzing this trend in Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and around the world.

Human Trafficking in Cuba’s Medical Missions

This report looks at Cuba’s state-sponsored human trafficking scheme run through a decades-long program of international medical missions. It shows the Cuban regime has imposed coercive and retaliatory practices on healthcare professionals to avoid desertion, enforced in ways that violate international law protecting victims of human trafficking.

Saudi Arabia’s Human Trafficking Mechanisms

This report investigates the role of Saudi Arabia’s strict labor law, kafala system, and male guardianship system in facilitating human trafficking. It exposes the regime’s poor protection of victims and inadequate punishments for perpetrators and, in its analysis, emphasizes the need for democratic reform to address human trafficking effectively.

Authoritarianism and Trafficking in Persons: Annual Policy Brief

This brief explores the global state of human trafficking, looking closely at the link between trafficking and authoritarianism. Using data from the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons reports and case studies from China, Cuba, Eritrea, and Saudi Arabia, the brief argues that authoritarian regimes are less likely to address human trafficking within their borders, while democracies are more likely to.