European Network Against Trafficking in Human Beings

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News | GAATW reacts to TIP report

On 15 July 2008, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), a coalition of more than 90 organisations spanning five continents committed to ending trafficking and protecting human rights, which includes La Strada International, addressed a letter to the authors of the 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) within the U.S. Department of State.

In their statement, GAATW members praised the authors of the TIP report for their efforts in giving more attention to issues as trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation as well as recogising that migrant workers can be trafficked even if migrating legally. Furthermore, the authors' intention to focus more on the exploitation element of trafficking rather than the aspect of migration, is seen by GAATW as an important and promising development.

Nevertheless, despite these improvements, the Alliance members addressed a number of concerns which undermine the efficacy and consistency of the TIP report. First and foremost, the lack of a human rights impact assessment of anti-trafficking measures hinders considerably full understanding of the trafficking situation. Secondly, the conflation of trafficking with prostitution as well as the lack of a distinction between forced and voluntary sex work in its definition of trafficking leads to harmful anti-trafficking policies. Finally, the shortage of proper reference or citation for research and statistics undermines the credibility of the TIP report as it is vital that a report of this stature to support its arguments with credible and verifiable data.

In its letter, GAATW has made the following recommendations to the U.S. Government:

  • Incorporate an impact assessment of anti-trafficking policies and practices as part of the criteria for the TIP report, including inter alia:
    • the impact of these policies and practices, especially that on the human rights of migrants and sex workers;
    • the ineffectiveness of conditional assistance;
    • the quality of services provided and whether they comply with human rights standards;
    • the impact of punitive migration policies.
  • Use an evidence-based approach when assessing anti-trafficking measures.
  • Reassess the U.S. government's position on the links between prostitution and trafficking. Examine the adverse affects the zero-tolerance prostitution policy is having upon those most vulnerable to trafficking.
  • Provide proper citations for all referenced research and statistics, so as to provide verifiable evidence for its claims.
  • In evaluating countries' prevention efforts, consider measures that address the root causes of trafficking, namely poverty, gender inequality, traditional social structures and lack of safe, legal migration possibilities.
  • Focus on trafficking into all sites of work (formal and informal) in which forced labour occurs: e.g. agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing, and sex work.

The full GAATW statement is published here.

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