Photo Credit: Screenshot from the State Department's 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report
Forced labor in Uzbekistan

The State Department’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report lists Israel among the first-tier nations in fighting against human trafficking. These countries are:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Guyana, Israel, South Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United kingdom, and the United states of America.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo introduced the report, issued last Thursday, saying that “for 20 years, the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) has demonstrated the United States’ conviction that human trafficking is a global threat necessitating a global response. Traffickers are denying nearly 25 million people their fundamental right to freedom, forcing them to live enslaved and toil for their exploiter’s profit. This report arms governments with the data they need to increase the prosecution of traffickers, provide victim-centered and trauma-informed protection for victims of trafficking, and prevent this crime altogether.”

“As this 20th anniversary report is released, we and our allies and partners find ourselves confronting a crisis that has reached previously unimagined proportions,” Pompeo said. “While urgency has always marked the fight against human trafficking, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have magnified the need for all stakeholders to work together in the fight more than ever. We know that human traffickers prey upon the most vulnerable and look for opportunities to exploit them. Instability and lack of access to critical services caused by the pandemic mean that the number of people vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers is rapidly growing.”

The State Dept. has removed Saudi Arabia from its list of the worst offenders on human trafficking (tier 3), after the 2020 report found that it implemented a national referral mechanism to provide care to victims of trafficking and increased prosecutions and convictions under its anti-trafficking law. According to the report, Saudi authorities had “criminally convicted and sentenced to stringent imprisonment terms two Saudi officials complicit in trafficking crimes during the year.” Saudi Arabia has been moved up from third to second tier in its rating as a fighter against human trafficking.

According to the report, the Government of Israel fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Israeli government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Israel remained on Tier 1. These efforts included convicting more traffickers and identifying more trafficking victims overall.

The Israeli government continued to operate shelters and other facilities that provided victims a wide variety of immediate and long-term care and rehabilitative services. The government forfeiture fund provided more monetary assistance to victims than in the previous reporting period. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it penalized some identified and unidentified trafficking victims among the irregular African migrant population for immigration violations.

The Israeli government also continued to implement policies that exacerbated this population’s vulnerability to trafficking, especially among Eritrean women, and the government’s victim identification procedures delayed or prevented some victims from receiving appropriate protection services.

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