Corruption erodes trust in government and destabilizes communities; it weakens the rule of law, creating an environment permissive of criminal activity. Human traffickers thrive in these environments.

The Summit for Democracy, a Biden-Harris Administration’s flagship initiative, centers on democracy and human rights and challenges democratic governments to strengthen democracy and defend against authoritarianism; address and fight corruption; and promote respect for human rights. Facing today’s challenges requires a strong, collaborative push from governments, civil society, and the public; the fight against human trafficking is no different. In the spirit of the Summit, the TIP Office hosted a three-part workshop series on the nexus between human trafficking and corruption.

We urge you to consider how traffickers and complicit officials thrive in the absence of transparency, accountability, pluralism, equity, and rule of law – the same elements essential to a well-functioning democracy. Read more about the TIP Office.

Please watch the recorded sessions below and share your thoughts with us by email at TIPOutreach@state.gov and on social media:

Workshop 1 – Nefarious Crossroads:  How Corruption Shapes Human Trafficking

In this first installment of the TIP Office’s Trafficking in Persons and Corruption workshop series, panelists provided a brief overview of human trafficking and covered a variety of topics, including support for investigations, incentives for governments to tackle corruption, best practices on prevention, and more.  Listen and learn from our virtual panel of experts as they discuss the symbiosis between these two crimes.

  • Opening Speaker:  Dr. Kari Johnstone – Then Senior Official, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State
  • Panelists:  Silke Albert – Crime Prevention Expert, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; Brendan Boundy – Deputy and Regional Policy Lead, Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption, U.S. Department of StateAnita Budu – Board of Trustees, International Justice Mission, GhanaTyler Dunman – Special Counsel, Human Trafficking Institute, UgandaMartina Vandenberg – Founder and President, Human Trafficking Legal Center
  • Moderator:  Matthew Villemain – Program Officer, International Programs, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State.

Watch:  Nefarious Crossroads: How Corruption Shapes Human Trafficking

Workshop 2 – Nefarious Crossroads:  How Corruption Impacts Trafficking Survivors

In the second workshop, panelists explored the mechanisms and consequences of trafficking-related corruption for victims and survivors. Traffickers exploit victims for profit, inflicting complex trauma; corrupt officials facilitate and may benefit from this exploitation, personifying the betrayal of public trust. Panelists dissected numerous topics, including barriers to resources and support that survivors face at all points of their trafficking experience; the importance of accessible legal representation for survivors; consistent and transparent accountability for corrupt officials in convictions and sentencing; methods to build trust between survivors and stakeholders’ ways to include and elevate survivors when navigating solutions; and most critically, the need for action beyond discussion.  Watch the session to learn more about how corruption impacts survivors’ journeys.

  • Panelists: Silke Albert – Crime Prevention Expert, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section; Evon Benson-Idahosa – Founder and Executive Director, PathFinders Justice Initiative, Nigeria; Evelyn Chumbow – Operations Manager and Survivor Advocate, Human Trafficking Legal Center; Martina Vandenberg – Founder and President, Human Trafficking Legal Center; Roisai Wongsuban – Program Advisor, Freedom Fund, Thailand
  • Moderator: Alex Boling – Program Assistant, Reports and Political Affairs, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State

Watch: Nefarious Crossroads: How Corruption Impacts Trafficking Survivors

Workshop 3 – Nefarious Crossroads:  Programs and Policies Leading to a Better Future

The third workshop’s panelists focused on effective programming and policy responses to trafficking-related corruption. Panelists shared best practices, including the need for ongoing collaboration and increased communication between prosecutors and investigators, the inclusion of anti-corruption components in anti-trafficking programming, and the practice of incentivizing whistleblowers by establishing rewards for reporting and immunity for whistleblowers.  Panelists highlighted the importance of ensuring governments have the tools, resources, and training to effectively combat corruption. Listen and learn from our virtual panel of corruption and trafficking experts as they discuss the successful programs and policies that intersect these two crimes, including gaps that require further research, collaboration, and innovation to address.

  • Panelists: Silke Albert – Crime Prevention Expert, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, United Nations Office on Drugs and CrimeMarcelo Colombo – Head Trafficking in Persons Prosecutor and Leading for REDTRAM Network of Prosecutors, ArgentinaDanila Serra – Associate Professor at the University of Texas A&M, USABill Woolf – Board Member at Anti-Trafficking International and Former Lead Investigator on the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, USA
  • Moderator: Ravi Buck – Program Officer, International Programs, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State.

Watch: Nefarious Crossroads:  Programs and Policies Leading to a Better Future

U.S. Department of State

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