Released annually, the Trafficking in Persons Report is the US Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.
From the introduction:
This multifaceted crime can challenge policy makers. The foundational elements of human trafficking are difficult to grasp and the real world instances of this exploitation are even harder to identify. Importantly, how governments address human trafficking depends heavily on the way authorities perceive the crime. When officials view trafficking as a crime and have a precise understanding of its core elements, they are better equipped to identify and combat it, regardless of the particular scheme the trafficker uses.
Over the last two decades, the international community has benefited from an improved understanding of and response to human trafficking. Working together, governments, NGOs, international organizations, academics, communities, and survivors of human trafficking have built a more complete picture of human trafficking—a picture that rejects a narrow understanding of traffickers and victims, in favor of one that encompasses the full range of ways traffickers exploit their victims.
Despite major progress, a number of countries still struggle with gaps in their domestic legal responses, often because they do not recognize and address human trafficking using the wider view described above. In practice, this may mean that governments overlook certain forms of human trafficking when the conditions do not meet their narrower presumptions. For example, authorities may not consider men and boys as victims of sex trafficking due to a common misperception that sex traffickers only exploit women and girls. This may also result in governments arresting and prosecuting trafficking victims for the unlawful acts their traffickers compelled them to engage in, instead of offering them the support of protective services. Where this happens, antitrafficking interventions are inadequate and the potential for productive criminal justice, protection, and prevention efforts is threatened.
This year the TIP Report introduction takes a deeper dive into one such gap, common in many countries around the world, whereby governments concentrate on transnational human trafficking cases at the expense of cases taking place within their borders. This spotlight is not intended to suggest that transnational human trafficking is not also important, or that the many other forms of trafficking that may go unaddressed due to similar oversight are of lesser consequence, but rather to call on governments to ensure they are addressing all forms of human trafficking and finding a balanced approach. In that vein and in the interest of de-emphasizing movement, this year’s report no longer refers to countries by the nomenclature “source, transit, and destination country.”