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IJM Statement on the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report

International Justice Mission welcomes the release of the State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report. As in the past, the report is thorough, factual and extremely helpful to the cause of eradicating slavery.

International Justice Mission (IJM), the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, is encouraged by the downgrade of countries who have consistently demonstrated little to no resolve in addressing their own endemic human rights abuses and commends the administration for prioritizing the report as is evidenced by the attendance of Secretary of State Tillerson and Special Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump.

However, IJM joins human rights groups around the world in expressing concerns surrounding the new rankings of several countries that have shown no concrete evidence of enforcing laws that protect the most vulnerable and ending impunity for perpetrators of human trafficking and modern slavery. In order to maintain the report’s credibility, it is imperative that the State Department not leverage rankings to reward its friends and punish its enemies.

“The U.S. Government has a many number of diplomatic and political tools to support allied countries, but rewarding them with undeserved rankings in the TIP report should not be one of them,” said Holly Burkhalter, IJM’s Senior Advisor for Justice System Transformation. “This year’s report, though very concerning in some areas – including on the issue of child soldiers—is largely successful in reflecting the reality of the global state of human trafficking and its integrity should continue to be prioritized by the administration and State Department, especially at this critical moment in the fight to end modern slavery.”

IJM also appreciates Secretary Tillerson’s expressed support for the State Department’s Program to End Modern Slavery as championed by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and authorized by Congress in December 2016 and fully believes that an end to human trafficking and modern day slavery requires a concerted global effort involving resources from both the public and private sectors.

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