To Reduce Human Trafficking, Fight Corruption and Improve Economic Freedom

The U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report measures countries’ compliance with minimum standards for combating TIP and ranks countries from best to worst in four categories: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3. Of the 18 countries on Tier 3 in the 2015 TIP report, all but two were considered “Repressed” or “Mostly Unfree”—the lowest categories in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom. The two exceptions, Thailand and Kuwait, are considered only “Moderately Free.” Economically repressed countries on Tier 3 include North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Iran, to name a few. In contrast, countries designated Tier 1 in the TIP report predominantly rank as “Free” or “Mostly Free” in the Index. The implication is clear: Countries that promote economic freedom are more likely to be effective in combating trafficking in persons. A close examination of human trafficking and the principles of economic freedom—especially strong rule of law—reveals the robust connections between these two desirable societal outcomes. Rule of law initiatives, including proper training for local law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors, in addition to access to legal and judicial protections, have also demonstrated track record for reducing human trafficking.

A key component to advancing U.S. and global efforts to combat trafficking in persons is the upgrade of rule of law programs and other steps to promote economic freedom. Specifically: focusing more foreign aid to resources from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries on specialized law enforcement and judicial training programs that address TIP concerns, prioritizing U.S. foreign aid to countries with significant human-trafficking challenges and implement anti-TIP best practices, and promoting free market and private sector-led economic growth.

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