Israel maintains Tier 1 in combating human trafficking

Israel maintains Tier 1 in combating human trafficking

MK Lavie: “It must be emphasized that the reduction of trade is directly related to the Prohibition on Prostitution Law”

The Subcommittee on Combating Trafficking in Women and Prostitution met today to discuss the release of the 2018 U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report. While Israel has maintained its status as a Tier 1 protector against human trafficking – the highest ranking given by the USDS – there remains much room for improvement.

For its seventh year in a row, Israel has maintained “Tier 1” watch level on the U.S. Department of State’s (USDOS) annual report on trafficking in persons. At today’s meeting of the Subcommittee on Combating Trafficking in Women and Prostitution, MK Lavie commended the combined efforts of the government, law enforcement and all NGOs who have assisted in the reduction of human trafficking. Most recently, the presentation MK Lavie’s bill on the Prohibition of Prostitution, which aims to punish the clients/consumers of prostitution, has been linked to a decrease in prostitution and human trafficking in the field.

A “Tier 1” ranking from the U.S. Department of State indicates that the government of Israel has demonstrated a continued serious and effective effort in combatting the trafficking of persons in the State of Israel.

However, according to the USDOS, Israel still has room to improve in several sectors of enforcement and response to human trafficking.

The official USDOS report states: “Although the government met the minimum standards, it convicted a significantly lower number of sex trafficking offenders than in the previous reporting period, and it continued to issue weak sentences that were inconsistent with the seriousness of the crime.” Here, the USDOS recommended to Israel to increase their prosecutorial efforts against sex trafficking offenders and push for harsher sentences for their crimes.

Adv. Nitzan Kahana, Head of the Committee for Combating Trafficking in Women and Prostitution:
“This is one of the most cruel and violent phenomena against people, and even after the arrest of a very important trafficker, the case ended with a plea bargain and a prison sentence of only two years. We are also faced with the problem of child prostitution – in 2016 and 2017 no indictments were filed. Consideration should be given to addressing prostitution of minors as part of the trafficking offense. There is no data as to the number of women out of the 170,000 Ukrainian citizens who reach the borders of Israel. “

The USDOS encouraged the State of Israel to improve screening and identification measures to ensure proper care and protection services are provided to victims, enhance NGO cooperation and transparency and improve diligence regarding the prosecution and victim treatment of irregular African migrants who may be involved in human trafficking abuses. The USDOS also entreated the committee to expand its purview to include victims and perpetrators of forced labor trafficking.

Moreover, the Population Authority is demanding a gender breakdown of the number of people entering and leaving Israel from eastern European countries in order to monitor levels of trafficking on an annual basis. After Israel loosened travel barriers for several eastern European countries to boost tourism, field agencies have documented an upsurge in human trafficking via short term travel visas.

Chairman of the Subcommittee for Combating Trafficking in Women and Prostitution, MK Aliza Lavie:
“The fact that Israel maintains its position at the top level encourages us and points to the combined efforts of the authorities and the field organizations in recent years. But if we do not come to terms with the new patterns of trade, Israel is liable to lose its place in the coming years. We know of an increase in the number of arrivals from Eastern European countries, an increase in the number of victims and requests for asylum, an increase in reports from the field, but the Immigration Authority does not yet impliment the necessary segmentation of men and women at the border, so there is still a blind eye to this phenomenon. It is our duty to place a warn against this reality now and to increase enforcement. Otherwise our progress will regress, even after all of our efforts and this significant step in the struggle against trafficking.”

MK Lavie added:
“It must be emphasized that the reduction in trade is directly related to the Prohibition on Prostitution Law, which, according to the promises we received again and again, should have passed this week in the first reading. The more prostitutes there are, the more pimps are motivated to pimp and coax women and girls into this destructive industry. We must call on Justice Minister Shaked to accelerate the process of passing the bill and bring the matter to the cabinet for approval as soon as possible “


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