BIICL is undertaking a project assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on efforts to combat human trafficking around the world.
The aims of the project are twofold: to take stock of the gaps COVID-19 has created in anti-human trafficking law and policy, and to propose solutions for how those gaps can be filled in the coming months and years. While early research suggests that COVID-19 will greatly exacerbate vulnerability to human trafficking, financial and other resources allocated to anti-trafficking efforts are likely to decrease. The decreased funding, coupled with social distancing and other regulations, greatly impinges upon the services that governments and NGOs can provide across the 4-P anti-trafficking paradigm. Efforts to identify actual and potential instances of trafficking, and support trafficked persons have been hindered, while the decreased visibility lowers the possibility of criminal consequences for traffickers. Inadequate government financial support for informal workers and irregular migrants, in particular, increases their risk of exposure to the virus. Their financial and health vulnerability may also increase the vulnerability of groups to trafficking and other forms of exploitation. The economic crisis that is likely to follow the current health crisis is also likely to increase vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking, thus deepening the need for efforts to combat their occurrence.
The research explores how the exacerbated challenges of combating human trafficking in a post-COVID-19 world can best be addressed. Supported by extensive desk research and expert interviews, the project will:
- Convene webinar discussions with global experts in anti-trafficking law and policy. Their insights will guide analysis into the ability of current national and international legal frameworks to respond to the changing nature of human trafficking and help identify solutions moving forward.
- Provide a strong evidence base, building on a global survey, on the impact of COVID-19 on anti-trafficking efforts and of the public health emergency as a determinant of anti-trafficking policies.
For further information, please contact Jean-Pierre Gauci.
This research is funded by the US Department of State and sits within a broader project assessing the determinants of anti-trafficking efforts worldwide.