Crucial links between modern slavery and access to identity documentation

The United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) and The Freedom Fund have released a global evidence review on ‘Modern Slavery Risks Among People Lacking Official Documentation’. This report examines how access to official documentation is a foundational step for preventing human trafficking and aids survivors in restoring their lives. It highlights interventions that address the root causes of modern slavery by closing documentation gaps. Research demonstrates an estimated 850 million people worldwide lack official documentation. The lack of documentation causes individuals to become invisible to policy-makers and service providers, and it can trap them in cycles of exploitation and re-exploitation.

In this report, research is drawn directly from the lived experiences of multiple survivors. It outlines six key pathways leading to a lack of documentation, including gaps in legislation, practice obstacles, and instances of document loss or confiscation. This review calls for prevention and protection strategies.

Child Identity Protection (CHIP) concurs that “the role of documentation [is] a cornerstone of rehabilitation and a deterrent against the recurrence of exploitation”, stressing the importance of having a legal identity.

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