What is the world doing to end modern slavery?

Twenty nations, including Colombia, Cyprus and the Philippines, have improved their fight against modern slavery, according to the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report. On the other hand, the report finds 27 nations doing less to combat human trafficking than in previous years.

The report ranks 188 countries, including the United States, on their effectiveness in combating human trafficking. The report places countries in one of four tiers based on the extent to which they meet the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” as outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

People seen through bus window (© AP Images)
Migrants rest on a bus from Croatia to Serbia. Migrants and refugees are vulnerable to human traffickers. (© AP Images)

Biram Dah Abeid, from Mauritania and one of nine Trafficking in Persons Report heroes recognized by the State Department at the release of the report, says too many people in the West don’t understand the extent to which slavery still exists. “They think it’s just something from old times,” he says.

Along with fellow Mauritanian and Trafficking in Persons Report hero Brahim Bilal Ramdhane, Abeid was arrested in 2014 for a high-profile campaign against slavery in their country, which is ranked in the lowest tier — Tier 3 — in the 2016 report.

“The more you neglect slavery,” Abeid says, “the more you give it the opportunity to reproduce itself and expand.”