Trafficking in Persons
Trafficking in persons is – as all types of illicit trades – a lucrative form of organized crime and a high-profit, low-risk activity. This human rights abuse represents a failure of nation states and the global community to ensure the security of their citizens. The International Labour Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally and that trafﬁcked forced laborers produce a total illicit proﬁt of US$150 billion per year (ILO, 2014). Trafficking in persons is prevalent throughout all regions of the world, and in a wide range of sectors, including – but not limited to – fisheries, agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing, mining and utilities, and the sex industry.
Consumers are increasingly aware and interested in the conditions under which the goods that they buy are made. It is therefore in companies’ interest to ensure that workers are paid fair wages and that supply chains are free from forced or trafficked labor. Failing to do so can potentially lead to severe reputational damage, lost contracts and market share, as well as costs associated with criminal and civil liability. Conversely, promoting human rights and fair conditions can increase consumer trust, build brand loyalty and generate goodwill. Furthermore, it is in the interests of companies that are abiding by labor laws to advocate and push an anti-human trafficking agenda in the interest of a level playing field free from those companies that make their illegal profits from unpaid wages.
Whenever we find poverty and lack of opportunity – wherever the rule of law is weak, where corruption is most ingrained, where minorities are abused, and where populations can’t count on the protection of government – we find not just vulnerability to trafficking, but zones of impunity where traffickers can prey on their victims. […] The magnitude of the challenge is real, but make no mistake: So are the opportunities for progress.