World Day Against Trafficking in Persons: IACHR Calls on States to Fight Human Trafficking, Focusing on the Comprehensive Protection of People in Human Mobility Contexts

July 30, 2022

Washington, D.C. – On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls on States to strengthen their actions to fight human trafficking, focusing on providing comprehensive protection of the rights of individuals in human mobility contexts. State approaches need to reflect inter-American standards and principles concerning human mobility, as well as a differentiated, intersectional approach to that field.

The World Migration Report 2022 published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) admits a lack of complete, systematic data on victims of human trafficking around the planet. However, it notes the serious rights violations suffered by these victims, and these rights violations' economic and social effects and their long-term impact on the physical and mental health of the affected persons, with implications for the human rights of these individuals. The IOM report also stresses the correlation between a lack of access to rights and the risk of incidence of exploitation factors linked to human trafficking. The IOM further notes that the Trafficking Protocol has attained almost universal ratification, with 178 signatory States around the globe including all countries in the Americas.

The IACHR stresses its concern about the disproportionate impact of human trafficking on the victimization of women, female adolescents, and girls. The Commission therefore reminds States of their obligation to act to prevent the structural causes of human trafficking, like the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and sexist and patriarchal structures that reproduce violence against women. The complex nature of this issue demands from States coordinated action, the exchange of information, and cooperation on different levels, including security and assistance. The IACHR has also said that toughening migration policies in countries of transit and destination leads people to look for new routes, usually more remote, to avoid checkpoints. This increases these persons' vulnerability and risk factors to become victims of different forms of human trafficking. 

In this context, the Commission notes the importance of efforts to fight human trafficking, and also of ensuring that State mechanisms for cooperation, exchange, and incidence focus on providing comprehensive protection to the affected persons. These initiatives must further seek to maintain and improve the spheres that protect the human rights of individuals in human mobility contexts. The IACHR also urges States to work to ensure that legitimate efforts in the fight against human traffic are not used as an excuse to adopt restrictive migration policies and to weaken the safeguards of due process in protection contexts.

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Commission reminds States of the commitment to ban slavery and servitude they made by ratifying the American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR also stresses that coordinated action and regional strategies to create and expand channels that enable regular, safe displacement are both important. The IACHR notes that its Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Victims of Human Trafficking (Resolution 04/19) provide guidelines for the design and implementation of comprehensive public policies in this field. In line with Principle 21, the IACHR reminds States that, in all their prevention, assistance, repression, and cooperation measures, they must adopt a gender perspective, consider every child's best interests, and not criminalize migrants.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence. 

No. 173/22

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