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Setbacks In Victim Protection – Advances In Prosecution and Prevention

Press Release No. 190/2013
21 August 2013
Index measures data on human trafficking from over 180 countries

While criminal prosecution and measures for preventing human trafficking are on the rise in large parts of the world, setbacks in victim protection have been noted in many countries. This development was observed to the same degree in affluent as well as developing countries, according to the current “3P-Anti-Trafficking Policy Index.” This study, led by Prof. Dr. Axel Dreher of the Alfred Weber Institute for Economics at Heidelberg University, has been conducted since 2011 and its results are published once a year. “Countless individuals fall victim to human trafficking each year. Our index intents to assist the collection of data on worldwide human trafficking and make it publicly available,” explains Prof. Dreher.

The researchers evaluated U.S. State Department reports on worldwide human trafficking from 2001 to 2013 as well as the “Global Reports on Trafficking in Persons" from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime” from 2006, 2009, and 2012. The resulting “3P Index” covers trafficking data from over 180 countries from the period of 2000 to 2012. It comprises three categories, prosecution, prevention, and protection, which are measured using a points system. “The more points a country is assigned, the greater its efforts are towards combating human trafficking”, explains Prof. Dreher.

The prosecution category considers whether a country has a specific law against human trafficking, whether the penalty is appropriate and comparable to similar crimes, and the extent to which punishment is carried out. Preventive measures among others include high-profile awareness-raising and collaboration with international actors. “There has been improvement in both categories since the beginning of the observation period in 2000. In Denmark, for example, coordination between the prosecuting authorities and social workers has improved tremendously, enabling proactive identification of victims. Furthermore, preventive measures such as awareness campaigns are being supported by the government in more and more countries”, states Alexandra Rudolph, a researcher working with Prof. Dreher on compiling the index.

The researchers did uncover, however, setbacks in the protection of human trafficking victims. “The critical assessment criteria here is whether the victims themselves are criminalised or even treated as perpetrators,” continues Alexandra Rudolph. Other criteria include the provision of medical care, support from authorities and the courts, and the possibility of obtaining a residency permit. “Although international organisations and national governments have made greater efforts to protect victims in recent years, the data shows that the situation has worsened – regardless of how developed a country is,” explains the young researcher.

The 3P Index is the result of a research project to determine the reasons for and consequences of human trafficking that was conducted from 2010 to 2012 by Prof. Dreher in collaboration with colleagues from the London School of Economics (LSE), Tilburg University, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with the financial support of the European Commission. The results of the 3P Index are based on the research paper “The Determinants of Anti-trafficking Policies - Evidence from a New Index,” forthcoming in the Scandinavian Journal of Economics. The authors are Seo-Young Cho of the University of Marburg, Axel Dreher, and Eric Neumayer of the London School of Economics.

The current 3P Anti-trafficking Policy Index and detailed information on its construction and methodology can be found at

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Latest Revision: 2013-08-26
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