Decolonizing Human Trafficking Alternative Approaches to Understanding Modern Slavery

Acknowledging that most countries with the highest trafficking rates are former colonies opens up new ways of understanding and potentially eradicating human trafficking.

Editor’s note: This essay is available in print in our latest issue on Modern Slavery in Africa. Buy the issue here.

Human trafficking is a multifaceted issue that encompasses human rights, politics, criminal justice, national security, and economic frameworks. As such, it also requires multifaceted solutions. In the past few years, there has been an evident increase in human trafficking from Africa, as well as within the continent. Research conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime shows that virtually no countries in Africa are immune from trafficking. These countries may either be countries of source, transit, destination, or a combination of all three.

Trafficking is one of the largest profit makers for organized crime in Africa as it is arguably one of the lowest risk activities for criminal groups due to widespread corruption, lack of legislation, low rates of prosecution amongst other factors. In an attempt to address this issue, the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons was drafted and came into effect in December 2003. According to this protocol, trafficking in persons may be defined as:

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