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10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

Being aware of how grave the issue of human trafficking has become with globalization and mass migrations in the past few decades, we at Insider Monkey thought it would be informative to create a list of 10 worst countries in Europe for human trafficking pointing to the issue in these countries.

Human trafficking epitomizes one of the most serious human rights abuses. Depriving someone of their freedom and subjugating them to the will of others is a way to dehumanize individuals. The issue of human trafficking has become something of a global aberration. So many countries try to invent mechanisms and instruments to eradicate human trafficking, yet so few of them succeed in it. It is challenging to keep track of these underground activities when there is so much going on. Not that long ago I wrote about top 15 cities with highest human trafficking in the world, where I established that Bangkok, Kabul, and Havana are top three worst human trafficking cities in the world. This time, however, I am intent on researching and writing about the worst countries in Europe for human trafficking.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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The US Department of State and the United Nations Office on Drugs publish annual reports which contain human trafficking by country statistics and qualitative data on human trafficking. These reports are a relevant source of information as they provide comprehensive data on human trafficking patterns worldwide. The report published by the US Department of State also provides human trafficking map of the world offering a visual representation of which country belongs to which tier. The countries are grouped into four tiers. Tier 1 are countries which fully comply with TVPA, “Trafficking Victims Protection Act”. Countries which belong to Tier 2, do not fully comply with TVPA but are making significant efforts to do so. Countries on Tier 2 Watchlist represent the worst countries in terms of human trafficking. These countries do not fulfill even the minimum requirements established by the TVPA. Despite the fact that they try to do so, human trafficking is severe, and the number of victims appears to be increasing. The issue appears to be spiraling out of control. Countries in Tier 3 category do not comply with the standards set by the TVPA and are not making efforts to do so. We already published an article you might find interesting as it provides a list of countries with the highest rates of human trafficking in the world.

The human trafficking map of 2016 provided by human rights first reveals there were staggering 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. Countries in Asia-Pacific region seem to be doing little or nothing in preventing human trafficking as there were 11.7 million human trafficking victims in this region. Africa is the second worst region in terms of combating human trafficking, with the recorded 3.7 million victims of human trafficking in 2016. E.U. & developed economies, while having the “lowest” number of victims of human trafficking, still have the space for improvement of their strategies for tackling the issue. Human trafficking is not an issue that countries should be dealing with alone. The very definition of human trafficking suggests that it is an activity that happens in more than one place. More often than not these places are separated by borders. For this reason, it is important that countries cooperate with one another in the process of policymaking.

The USA is not immune to the issue of human trafficking. Our article on worst states for human trafficking in America shows that California is where human trafficking is the worst in the United States. California would probably be the answer to the question where is human trafficking most common in the US, as well. One could claim that it is the focal point of human trafficking activity. As estimated, there are 2.55 human trafficking victims per 100.000 people. California is followed by Ohio and Florida on this list. While the USA is not the worst in terms of human trafficking data worldwide, it certainly has a long way to go to reduce the number of victims to a minimum.

When creating the list of top worst countries in Europe for human trafficking, I used 2016 report published by the UN Office on Drugs and 2017 report published by the US Department of State. The human trafficking countries ranking is based on qualitative and quantitative data provided in these reports. In order to rank them, I used the data on how they have been categorized in the past 7 years, that is, which Tier they were grouped in. I also looked into the specific cases of human trafficking in these countries to illustrate how the issue is present in them.

10. Latvia

Latvia has continually been categorized as Tier 2 country. Latvia is a source country for men, women, and children who are victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Women and girls from Latvia are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking in Latvia as well as abroad. Latvian women are often recruited for mediated marriages in countries of Western Europe, where they experience domestic servitude, forced labor, and sexual exploitation.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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9. Ukraine

Ukraine is currently in Tier 2 category; however, it was on Tier 2 Watchlist for four years before that. The reports suggest that since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, the number of victims of human trafficking has decreased, which explains its Tier 2 ranking. However, the conflict resulted in an increased number of displaced persons, which are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. The UN notes that there are more human trafficking victims of forced labor than sexual exploitation. Furthermore, Ukraine is a source country for victims trafficked to Russia.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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8. Macedonia

For the past two years, Macedonia, the next one on our list of worst countries in Europe for human trafficking has been categorized as Tier 2, before which it was continually grouped with Tier 1 countries. This is a reason for concern. The refugee crisis probably influenced such result. As the US report notes, migrants, refugees, unaccompanied women, and minors are susceptible to being trafficked. Furthermore, Macedonia has a serious difficulty tackling the issue of sex trafficking of Roma children, who are also subject to forced begging.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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7. Moldova

Moldova is ranked as Tier 2 Watchlist in 2017 report. Before the current ranking, it was a Tier 2 country. It is considered to be a source, transit, and destination for trafficking victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Women and children are often subject to sexual exploitation in brothels, saunas, and massage parlors. As the report notes, there is an increase in sex trafficking of girls aged 13 to 15. Around 40 % of people trafficked in 2015 were victims of forced labor.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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6. Montenegro

We are continuing our list of worst countries in Europe for human trafficking with Montenegro that is categorized as Tier 2 Watchlist country in 2017. When it comes to sex trafficking in Montenegro, the victims are usually women and girls from neighboring countries in the Balkans. Just like Macedonia, there are grave human rights violations of Roma children. They are subject to forced begging, girls are sold into marriages, and forced into servitude. While there were cases of females convicted of human trafficking, these were not properly dealt with legally.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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5. Hungary

This year, Hungary, the number 5 on our list of worst countries in Europe for human trafficking is ranked as Tier 2 Watchlist, after being continually categorized as Tier 2 for the past six years. It is definitely a signal for the government of this country to approach the issue more seriously. The US report notes that asylum-seekers, undereducated minors, and Roma, among others, are groups especially susceptible to being trafficked. Women and children are subject to sex trafficking in the country and abroad. Furthermore, there have been recorded cases of disabled individuals who are sold for sexual exploitation.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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4. Serbia

For the last two years, Serbia has been grouped among Tier 2 Watchlist countries. The country reports a relatively high number of convictions for human trafficking, which is promising. It shows the good will to deal with the problem. In the past couple of years, there has been an increase in the number of male victims of human trafficking. Serbian women are mostly subject to sex trafficking in neighboring countries and throughout Europe, countries such as Austria and Germany. Such gloom picture is what places Serbia on the fifth spot on worst countries in Europe for human trafficking list.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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3. Russia

Russia was ranked as Tier 2 Watchlist country in 2012, ever since then, it is considered to be a Tier 3, meaning it does not fulfill the requirements for combating human trafficking and it does not show the motivation for acting otherwise. Forced labor remains a grave issue. The report notes that there are approximately 1.5 million irregular migrants, working in the conditions of exploitation. There are numerous cases of forced prostitution of women and children.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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2. Belarus

For the past three years, Belarus that ranks second on the list of worst countries in Europe for human trafficking is categorized as Tier 3. Before this, it was grouped among Tier 2 Watchlist countries. It shows the lack of will on the part of Belarus officials in eradicating human trafficking, which is rather disappointing. Belarus is a source, transit, and destination for victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The latest numerical data shows that less than 20 % of the trafficking victims were men. Belarus women are often subject to sexual exploitation in adult entertainment and hotel industry abroad and in Belarus.

10 Worst Countries in Europe for Human Trafficking

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1. Bulgaria

This EU country is ranked as Tier 2 Watchlist for the past three years, which suggests that it is the worst country in Europe for human trafficking. Bad news for Bulgaria. It is mostly a source country for sex trafficking and forced labor. There has been a rise in the number of men who are subject to forced labor. Furthermore, the NGOs note that internal trafficking is increasing. Children and adults with disabilities are forced into begging. Roma girls are especially susceptible to becoming victims of sex trafficking in Bulgaria. This points to a number of human rights abuses which Bulgaria has yet to acknowledge and then eradicate.

This was Insider Monkey list of top 10 worst countries in Europe for human trafficking.