human trafficking (illustration)
human trafficking (illustration)istock

The US State Department released its annual report on the global fight against human trafficking over the weekend, with Israel placing in the first tier of countries who are doing the most to combat the phenomenon.

This is the ninth consecutive year in which Israel was placed in the top tier in the State Department report.

The report, which has been published annually since 2001, ranks countries into three tiers by measuring their efforts to combat human trafficking. In the past Israel was placed in the lowest tier of countries which were not doing enough to combat human trafficking, a ranking which could have led to the imposition of US sanctions. In 2012 Israel was placed in the first tier for the first time, and has remained there ever since.

The report stated that "the Government of Israel fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Israel remained on Tier 1. These efforts included convicting more traffickers and identifying more trafficking victims overall. The government continued to operate shelters and other facilities that provided victims a wide variety of immediate and long-term care and rehabilitative services. The government forfeiture fund provided more monetary assistance to victims than in the previous reporting period."

The State Department praised Israel for working on three levels to combat human trafficking, prevention, prosecution of human traffickers, and protection for victims.

The Israeli government identified 73 new human trafficking victims in 2019, an increase of 14 over 2018. 58 were women and 15 were men. Of the identified victims, 38 were victims of sex trafficking and 34 were victims of forced labor.

In addition, the Israel Police opened 125 investigations against suspected human traffickers. The government also launched an investigation against a police officer for accepting a bribe from a brother where human trafficking allegedly occurred.

Attorney Dina Dominitz, the Head of the National Anti Trafficking Unit, said in response to the report: "Israel maintains its top-tier position in the US State Department report for the ninth straight year, along with a small group of other countries selected for this ranking. The state is making large investments in this field because of the importance of protecting the weak in society. In addition, there are many, multi-systemic efforts and proactive and productive cooperation, both within and outside the government. The 2019 report shows an increase in the number of convictions for the relevant offenses and an increase in the number of victims who were identified. It recognizes the achievements of the State [of Israel] which were accomplished through the integration of forces between all government ministries, organizations, in civil society, and international bodies."