A recently released whitepaper from Liberty Shared examines the nexus between corruption and human trafficking, two issues which, while both presenting serious risks to business, are rarely considered jointly. The paper highlights gaps in understanding about the relationship between these phenomena, calling for greater research to inform the development of targeted policies and strategies.
Bribery and corruption risk tends to be high on businesses’ radars. The strengthening of the anti-corruption framework and subsequent enforcement of stricter penalties for those implicated in corruption has caused companies to funnel greater attention and resources towards rooting out corruption in their business and supply chains. The regulatory environment surrounding human trafficking, while less established than its anti-corruption counterpart, has made significant strides in recent years. New legislation is increasingly putting the onus on companies to prevent and address human trafficking and forced labor in their supply chains and to demonstrate transparency. In addition to these developing requirements, human trafficking raises money laundering risks. Alongside bribery and corruption, human trafficking and migrant smuggling are considered predicate offenses to money laundering as defined by FATF.
Increasingly important questions then, are how and to what degree are corruption and human trafficking connected? And in what ways does this affect businesses as they address third-party risk? Liberty Shared’s new whitepaper, “On Thin Ice: Proving What We Know to be True: An Examination of the Nexus between Human Trafficking and Corruption,” begins a discussion on questions like these by diving into current research on corruption and trafficking in persons.
The paper highlights that while most experts agree that corruption is a necessary environmental factor that allows human trafficking to take place, and in fact aids and abets it, the data used to “prove” this relationship remains thin. While case studies and anecdotal evidence are helpful in demonstrating real-world dynamics of corruption and human trafficking, relying on them heavily, or emphasizing correlation between self-reinforcing data sets, are fragile points from which to draw conclusions about this nexus on a global scale or to establish causality.
After reviewing literature on corruption and human trafficking, the paper examines challenges that have limited research to date. In addition to difficulties inherent in gathering information directly from trafficking victims or from actors involved in corruption, safety and legal risks act as deterrents for journalists and others investigating these issues. Other challenges include a lack of systematic data collection and a failure to aggregate and harmonize data across institutions and countries.
Perhaps one of the greatest risks for companies posed by human trafficking and corruption is the level of uncertainty about this nexus. Liberty Shared’s publication points to the need for corporate compliance and due diligence professionals to turn their attention to corruption and human trafficking to better understand how the two interact in their industry and particular business setting. Just as efforts to address corruption and human trafficking are limited when each is viewed in isolation, and require a paradigm shift to begin considering how they are interrelated, so it is also important for businesses to increasingly consider the risks associated with these issues in tandem.
To download the whitepaper please click here.
About Liberty Shared
Liberty Shared is an NGO that works to prevent human trafficking through legal advocacy, technological interventions, and strategic collaboration with corporations, financial institutions and NGOs.