Human trafficking is a grave act involving the exploitation of people through force, fraud, or coercion for various nefarious purposes. According to the US State Department, 27.6 million people worldwide are victims at any given time.

The reality is this: Criminal networks are profiting from this suffering. Shockingly, human trafficking brings in an estimated $150 billion a year in illegal profits worldwide. 

So, returning to the focus of this article. How do sanctions help in the relentless battle against it? And what can your company do to play its part and not break the law?

1. Human Trafficking Networks Are Targeted Using Sanctions

The first important point is that sanctions regimes, such as those implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), use sanctions to target human trafficking networks. 

Here is a recent example. In December 2023, the United Kingdom's sanctions enforcer, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), announced sanctions to target human trafficking scam networks in Southeast Asia.

But how do legal actions like OFSI's directly impact the fight against human trafficking? All will be revealed in the following sections.

2. Sanctions Compliance Is Vital in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

All human traffickers need to launder their dirty money so they can conceal their ill-gotten gains and avoid detection by law enforcement. And when governments put human trafficking networks (and individuals within them) on sanctions lists, it means they lose access to legitimate financial channels.

But what happens when companies and organizations ignore these sanctions lists? 

Failing to comply with sanctions laws that assist the fight against human traffickers (amongst other crimes) may lead to financial penalties and tremendous reputational damage. For example, in 2023, OFAC slapped British American Tobacco (BAT) with a jaw-dropping $635 million fine for breaking North Korea sanctions.

The bottom line is this: Performing sanctions checks on customers and business partners is a fundamental facet of sanctions compliance, which is vital in the fight against human trafficking. 

We will now talk about how your business can perform these crucial checks. 

3. AML Screening Helps Combat Human Trafficking

AML screening, or Anti-Money Laundering screening, is a crucial process that detects and prevents the illegal practice of money laundering - something all human trafficking criminal networks are involved in. 

For example, customers and business partners are screened against: 

One of the best ways to contribute to the fight against human trafficking and to comply with legally-biding sanctions regimes (dependent on your operational jurisdictions), is to deploy an AML screening system. 

And here is the good news. Thanks to the incredible advancements in regulation technology, your company can do this by easily connecting to an AML API, as offered by sanctions.io. For more information, contact us.

4. Compliance Teams Contribute to Strengthening Efforts Against Human Trafficking

The final connection between sanctions and human trafficking concerns the hard-working compliance teams who help prevent money laundering. 

In a nutshell, compliance teams - with sanctions in their remit - are vital in the fight against this terrible crime. And do you know what else is true? Professionals in this field derive job satisfaction from their actions directly contributing to a meaningful cause. 

Sanctions and Human Trafficking: Watch Our Raising Awareness Video On X and LinkedIn

As part of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which aims to raise awareness of this serious crime, we also produced a video clip that went up on our X and LinkedIn pages (feel free to follow us for our latest content).

Final Thoughts and How sanctions.io Can Help

One of the best ways for companies and organizations to battle human trafficking and avoid legal quagmires is by adopting real-time AML screening technology.

sanctions.io is a highly reliable and cost-effective solution for sanctions list checking. AI-powered and with an enterprise-grade API with 99.99% uptime are reasons why customers globally trust us with their AML screening needs. To learn more about how our sanctions, PEP, and criminal watchlist screening service can support your organization's compliance program:

Book a free Discovery Call.

We also encourage you to take advantage of our free 7-day trial (no credit card is required).