The U.S. State Department has released the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report. In the past ten years, since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act by the U.S. Congress and adoption of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, at the United Nations, many countries have developed a common framework to combat trafficking centering on the three P's -- prevention, protection, and prosecution. One-hundred-forty-six countries are now parties to that protocol and nearly 130 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting all forms of human trafficking.
Human trafficking includes all of the criminal conduct involved in forced labor and sex trafficking, whether the person is a man, woman or child; whether they've been moved across the world or across an international border; or whether they are enslaved in the town or village that their families have lived in for years. It is quite simply modern slavery. According to one organization, up to 27 million people are enslaved around the world.
The theme of this year's trafficking report is the decade of delivery. There have been a lot of advances in the last few years, said Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. But we are concerned, he said, "that the number of victims identified and the number of traffickers being prosecuted has flattened out around the world. And that trend needs to go back into an increase."
The measure of success can no longer be whether a country has passed laws, because so many have in the last decade. Now we have to make sure that laws are implemented and that countries are using the tools that have been created for that. Governments can work more closely with the private sector and use new supply chain monitoring techniques to let consumers know if their goods and services come from responsible sources free of trafficking. In partnership with the non-governmental organization community, said Ambassador CdeBaca, we have to develop new mechanisms for shielding victims and bringing more perpetrators to justice.
"The only solution to human trafficking, said Ambassador CdeBaca, "is for governments to step up. . . . It is fitting to move beyond mere adoption of laws. Rather, we must measure our success or failure by victims served, by traffickers punished, and by abuse averted. ... Every country. . .can and must do more."