Worlds Top Worst Countries For Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business and one of the fastest-growing illegal industries.

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and it’s one of the fastest-growing illicit industries in the world. Each year, the U.N. marks World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which falls on July 30 this year, to help raise awareness. The U.S. State Department annually investigates more than 100 countries for its Trafficking in Persons report. In the 2017 report, 23 countries were classified as Tier 3, the lowest classification for countries that “do not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.” Here’s a look at five of the countries that are classified among the worst human trafficking offenders.

Four countries have appeared on the annual Trafficking in Persons report as Tier 3 countries consistently from 2011 to 2018. These countries are Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, and North Korea. Central African Republic, Mauritania, and Syria have featured in the Tier 3 category in seven out of the eight years. Algeria, DR Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Papua New Guinea, Russia, and Venezuela have been listed as Tier 3 in six out of eight years.

Worst Countries for Human Trafficking

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea has consistently featured on this list from 2011 to 2018. Women in Equatorial Guinea are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking. The practice of using forced labor is also common in the country. A large number of immigrant and local women are often exploited for sex while men are forced to work in oil mines.


Eritrea is a major source of human trafficking. The victims are subjected to forced labor. Thousands of Eritreans who have fled their country in search of better living conditions and economic opportunities have fallen prey to human traffickers. The government of Eritrea also requires persons between 18 and 40 years to take part in forced labor as part of national service for at least 18 months. Most people are, however, made to serve indefinitely under unfavorable conditions such as torture and detention.


Iranian citizens are vulnerable to trafficking both within and outside the country. Reports have surfaced about a rise in the number of young Iranians as sex workers in the UAE. Passports of these victims are often confiscated leaving them completely helpless in a foreign country. Many Iranian women living along the Iran-Turkey border are also vulnerable to cross-border sex trafficking.

North Korea

North Korea is a source country for victims who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Within the country, forced labor is part of political repression and one of the pillars of the economic system. The citizens are subjected to forced labor through assigned work. Approximately 120,000 people are held in camps in the country. Government oppression has forced thousands to flee the country, making them vulnerable to trafficking.

The Central African Republic

CAR is both a source and transit country for persons, especially children, subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Most victims of human trafficking in the Central African Republic are citizens exploited within the country. Other victims are transported to neighboring countries such as Nigeria, DRC, Chad, and Cameroon. The political instability and displacement of over one million people have increased the vulnerability of children, men, and women to trafficking.


The majority of the people subjected to slavery practices in Mauritania are children and adults from the Afro-Mauritanian and Black Moor communities. The victims are forced to work without pay. Mauritanian girls and women who are recruited by foreign agencies as domestic workers are often subjected to sex trafficking in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. Some are forced into marriages by travel agencies and brokers both in the country and in the Middle East.


Human trafficking in Syria continues to deteriorate due to the ongoing civil war in the country. More than half of the Syrian population has been displaced and thousands killed since the beginning of the protest. Syrians who are in refugee camps are extremely vulnerable to trafficking, especially children who have been forced to early marriage and forced labor.


Algeria act as a transit route for people subjected to trafficking. It is also, to a lesser extent, a destination for the trafficked persons. Most often, men and women enter Algeria voluntarily and with the help of smugglers with the hope of traveling to Europe. However, some of these people become victims of trafficking and are forced into prostitution and unskilled labor. At least 10,000 people in Algeria are at risk of trafficking.


Trafficked persons from Guinea-Bissau are subjected to prostitution and forced labor. The country is both a source and destination for West African boys who are subjected to forced labor. Most of the boys in Guinea-Bissau attend Quranic schools. Some of the marabouts who teach these boys force them to beg around the school and in the neighborhood. Most traffickers are men from the regions of Gabu and Bafata.


Over 5 million migrants in Russia are working in conditions of slavery in factories and as public drivers. These workers are vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor. The entry of migrants into the country is facilitated by the Russian officials. Other officials are even bribed not to investigate or give a false report on human trafficking crimes. As a destination, source, and transit country for victims of trafficking, Russia has not done much to protect human trafficking.


More than half the people trafficked out of Venezuela are adults, 26% are young girls, and boys are 19%. The victims are lured by the promise of well-paying jobs and better working conditions but end up in countries where traffickers force them into prostitution and forced labor. Venezuela has done very little to punish or prevent trafficking despite having strict laws against it. Since 2013, only three people have been convicted under the human trafficking law.


Kuwait is a destination country for trafficked persons who are mainly subjected to forced labor. Men and women who migrate to Kuwait voluntarily from other parts of the world such as Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia to look for employment are often vulnerable to sexual abuse and forced labor. Because of the perilous conditions in Kuwait, several countries have restricted their women from moving to Kuwait.


Libya is a destination and transit country for trafficked persons, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa. It is also a source country for Libyan children subjected to an armed militia within the country. These armed militias recruit and use children as young as below 18 years old. The children are also exposed to sexual violence. The human trafficking crimes in the country are promoted by the political instability and lack of government oversight.


Yemen is a source country for children and adults subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Human trafficking has been promoted by violent conflicts and lack of rule of law. Yemeni boys have been subjected to forced labor after migrating to Saudi Arabia and Oman. Here, they are forced into sex trafficking and drug smuggling activities.


Women and young girls living in Zimbabwean towns close to the borders are subjected to sex trafficking. The men are also subjected to forced labor in domestic service and agriculture, especially in rural areas. Children and relatives from rural areas are recruited by their family members living in the cities and subjected to domestic servitude. Many Zimbabweans migrate to South Africa with the help of taxi drivers in search of a better life. Unfortunately, many are later subjected to forced labor and prostitution.

Trafficking in Person Report (TIP)

Trafficking in Person Report (TIP) focuses on the ways in which the communities and countries can collectively and proactively address the problem of human trafficking. TIP is a diplomatic tool used by the government of the US to engage foreign governments on issues surrounding human trafficking. In the report, each country is placed onto one of the three tiers based on the effort by the government to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Which Country Has the Most Human Trafficking?

Four countries are singled out as the nation’s most susceptible to human trafficking. They are Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, and North Korea.

Worst Countries For Human Trafficking Today

RankCountryYears on the Tier 3 List of the Trafficking in Persons Report
1Equatorial Guinea2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
2Eritrea2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
3Iran2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
4North Korea2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
5Central African Republic2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
6Mauritania2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
7Syria2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
8Algeria2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
9DR Congo2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019
10Guinea-Bissau2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
11Papua New Guinea2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019
12Russia2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
13Venezuela2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
14Kuwait2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
15Libya2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
16Sudan2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017
17Yemen2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
18Zimbabwe2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
19Belarus2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
20Belize2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
21Burundi2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
22Comoros2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
23Cuba2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
24Saudia Arabia2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
25South Sudan2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
26Turkmenistan2011, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
27Uzbekistan2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
28China2013, 2017, 2018, 2019
29Gambia2014, 2015, 2016
30Congo2017, 2018, 2019
31Madagascar2011, 2012
32Marshall Islands2015, 2016
33Thailand2014, 2015
34Bolivia2018, 2019
37Dominican Republic2011
38Gabon2018, 2019
41Laos2018, 2019

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