Just this past week Mexico’s Congress approved of a bill to combat human trafficking. The bill sounds promising enough as it doesn’t simply deal with prosecution, but it also includes protection and aftercare of victims. However, it’s also important to consider who the bill is aimed at, and who gets left out.
The bill includes prison sentences of up to 40 years for those convicted of sexual exploitation and abuse. While this sounds substantial only time will tell whether offenders being prosecuted will receive such lengthy sentences or not. For example, in the Netherlands the average sentence that offenders of human trafficking receive is around 4 years while the maximum penalty is 16 years.
The bill also is to create a fund to offer car to victims. It is crucial to include the 3 P’s: prevention, prosecution, and protection. Through law enforcement we hope that the first 2 P’s will be covered, and through this bill it is hoped that victims will begin to receive protection through aftercare services. Furthermore, a separate bill was approved to provide protection and rewards to victims of human trafficking who assist in the investigations and prosecutions against offenders. While the idea of offering protection is good, it should not be dependent on whether or not victims assist law enforcement. So, while both of these bills seem strong in offering protection to victims I am not convinced on how effective they will be. In order to be effective law enforcement cannot force victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions and there must be robustly detailed directions on how the fund to offer care to victims will be used.
A big thing the bill seems to be missing is that it does not cover labor trafficking. As I have discussed in my previous blog posts there amount of labor trafficking cases is much higher than sex trafficking. According to a report received by Congress last month regarding sex trafficking, the federal Attorney General’s Office estimated that at least 47 sex-trafficking rings operate in Mexico and 800,000 adults and 20,000 children fall victim each year. That is a very high number and that is only in relation to sex trafficking. The number, then, of labor trafficking victims is at least the same and most likely much higher. Labor trafficking victims cannot afford to be ignored by this bill.
Finally, while this bill is promising, as are many anti-human trafficking bills passed in countries, the effectiveness of enforcement and support to victims will be determined over time. Many countries pass such bills as this, but due to the complicated nature of human trafficking, as well as corruption, the bills lack teeth. In fact, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) correlates most strongly with the amount of trafficking occurring in a country when compared to other indexes such as poverty level, education level, infant mortality level, and GDP. No country is immune to corruption and it is corruption that plays a huge part in the proliferation of human trafficking. We can only hope that overtime corruption will decrease and the human trafficking bills put forward by countries such as Mexico and Thailand will prove effective and unhindered in their purpose.
Check out the article HERE.