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IJM Leader Sam Inocencio Receives Highest Anti-Trafficking Award from U.S. Government at TIP Report Release Event

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2024 – Today, the U.S. Department of State released the 2024 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which evaluates countries’ efforts to create and implement policies that combat human trafficking. International Justice Mission (IJM) commends this significant effort to provide a clear picture of the scale and nature of human trafficking around the world and what governments are doing – or aren’t doing – to address this problem. Using a tier system, countries are assigned a rating for the success of their policies in reducing levels of human trafficking; these ratings shape future U.S. and multilateral foreign aid decisions.

Alongside the TIP Report, the Department of State honors a group of individuals as TIP Report Heroes for their transformative work in the crucial endeavor to end human trafficking. This is the highest honor given by the U.S. government for anti-slavery leadership around the world, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the TIP Report Heroes award program. TIP Report Hero award recipients reflect a wide range of backgrounds and professions, all deeply engaged in efforts worldwide to rescue victims, support survivors, and implement systematic improvements within local law enforcement systems, grassroots advocacy networks, and government strategy. IJM’s Attorney Samson Inocencio, who serves as National Director of IJM Philippines and Regional Vice President of IJM’s Program Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, has been recognized as a 2024 TIP Report Hero, only the second IJM staff member to receive this award. In 2012, IJM’s Founder and CEO, Gary Haugen, was recognized as a TIP Report Hero for his unwavering dedication to strengthening justice systems and protecting vulnerable people from violence.

“Attorney Sam Inocencio exemplifies courage, discipline and vision – qualities of character that affirm his profound leadership in the Philippines and at IJM. The TIP Hero Award recognizes and honors his deep desire for justice and his steadfast commitment to ending sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines with a thorough, thoughtful approach. We celebrate with Sam as he receives this honor,” said Haugen.

For more than 20 years, Inocencio has pioneered IJM’s work to identify, rescue and restore over 1,000 survivors of trafficking, send hundreds of traffickers to jail and successfully protect over one million people throughout the Philippines. In only four years, IJM’s program in Cebu brought about a 72% reduction in children being sold for sex in brothels and on the street. IJM partnered with the Philippine government to expand to other hotspots for child sex trafficking, where third-party validators confirmed an even greater reduction in the crime — a 75% reduction in Manila and an 86% reduction in Pampanga.

Inocencio’s leadership further strengthened IJM’s relationship with the Philippine government when he led IJM’s implementation of a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Philippine governments through a Child Protection Compact from 2017-2021. This partnership, aimed at addressing online sexual exploitation of children and child labor trafficking, resulted in 82 operations with the rescue of 312 child victims and the arrest of 97 suspected perpetrators. This demonstrates that when justice systems are strengthened to enforce the law, criminals are deterred, and people are protected from violence.

“I am grateful for my IJM team and partners in the government, civil society, and private sector for their tireless work combating online sexual exploitation of children. Among our many efforts, I'm most proud of our collective work in reshaping the narrative around human trafficking in the Philippines – once perceived as a hotspot, the country is now a recognized global leader in implementing innovative solutions to combat the crime,” said Inocencio.

At this important annual moment for the anti-trafficking community, IJM also encourages continued U.S. government leadership in the fight against human trafficking. The federal law that mandates the production of the TIP Report, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), is overdue for reauthorization and Congress must act. IJM urges leaders in the House and Senate to work together to determine a viable legislative path that reauthorizes the international provisions of the TVPA before the end of 2024. Contact your legislator to voice your support.

Learn more about the TIP Report and how to get involved in advancing IJM’s advocacy work.

About International Justice Mission
International Justice Mission partners with local authorities in 33 program offices in 18 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children and police abuse of power. IJM’s mission is to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts. Learn more at:

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