NEW YORK (January 5, 2023) — Today, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a new report exploring the global state of human trafficking and the connection between authoritarianism and trafficking.
The report’s findings suggest authoritarianism is a root cause of human trafficking.
Human trafficking exists in every region of the world. In 2021, an estimated 27.6 million individuals were trapped in this form of modern slavery and 22 million were in forced marriages globally.
Using the tier rankings of the annual US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports, HRF found that 90% of Tier 1 countries — those making active efforts to combat trafficking — are democratic. With strong political institutions, a robust civil society, a free press, and judicial independence, democratic regimes are more likely to comply with international standards to prevent and prosecute trafficking and to protect and compensate their victims.
Meanwhile, 100% of Tier 3 countries — those making little to no effort to combat trafficking — are authoritarian. Characterized by government complicity, weak or subservient political institutions, or high levels of conflict and political instability, authoritarian regimes often fail to implement the legal mechanisms and institutions to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators. In some cases, the regime itself is the perpetrator.
HRF’s latest report, “Authoritarianism and Trafficking in Persons: Annual Policy Brief,” uses four case studies to explore the connection between political regime type and how effectively a country addresses trafficking. It concludes with several recommendations and calls to action on how to better civil and political rights in authoritarian countries to improve victim protection.