The number of convictions for trafficking offences fell by 27 per cent in 2020 globally from the previous year, with sharper decreases in South Asia (56 per cent).
In addition, the number of victims detected globally fell by 11 per cent in 2020, driven by less detection in low- and medium-income countries like Bangladesh.
The pandemic Covid has increased vulnerabilities to trafficking in persons, further undercutting capacities to rescue victims and bring criminals to justice.
Fewer cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation were detected during the pandemic as public spaces were closed, and related restrictions may have pushed this form of trafficking into more concealed and less safe locations, making it harder to identify victims.
The UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2022 revealed the findings at a city hotel on Thursday.
'The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants - Bangladesh (GLO.ACT- Bangladesh)' project is implemented by UNODC and IOM.
Aimée Comrie, GLO.ACT global coordinator, UNODC HQ in Vienna, Mizanur Rahman, home ministry joint secretary, and Mahdy Hassan, UNODC national programme coordinator, shared the key findings of the report.
It covers 141 countries and provides an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at global, regional and national levels based on trafficking cases detected between 2017 and 2021.
The findings are further informed by an analysis of 800 court case summaries with detailed suggestions to policymakers to help formulate effective responses.
Case analysis shows trafficking victims when they are identified, escape from traffickers on their own and are in effect 'self-rescued' - there are more cases of victims escaping and reporting to authorities of their own initiative (41 per cent) than cases where victims were located by law enforcement (28 per cent), members of the community and civil society (11 per cent).
This is particularly alarming considering many victims may not identify themselves as victims or may be too afraid of their exploiters to attempt to escape.