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Human trafficking in Mexico and neighbouring countries: a review of protection approaches

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NEW ISSUES IN REFUGEE RESEARCH - Research Paper No. 229

Lara Talsma

Introduction

Human trafficking is ranked as the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, competing with illicit arms trade for the place of second largest criminal industry after drugs trafficking. Additionally, it constitutes a human rights violation that it is understood to amount to a crime against humanity and to be a “new form of slavery”.

The overwhelming majority of trafficking victims are migrants in search of an economically better, but also safer future. Moreover, the socio-demographic characteristics of vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers show a strong resemblance to the profile of the people most vulnerable to human trafficking.

This connection between migration and trafficking in human beings is particularly visible in Mexico and its neighbouring countries. The corridor through Mexico is one of the most used mixed migration routes in the world, with the U.S.-Mexico border being the most crossed border worldwide. Annually, hundreds of thousands irregular migrants pass through Mexico determined to get to the United States.