Addressing Question 21(a) and 21(b) in the List of Issues on Criminalization of Trafficking Victims in the U.S. and Effective Remedies
The U.S. Government, though taking notable steps, has failed to address human trafficking in a comprehensive and coordinated manner, leaving significant gaps and many victims unprotected. The government has failed to take sufficient measures to identify and investigate labor trafficking cases in violation of its obligations under Articles 8 and 24 of the ICCPR. U.S. child trafficking victims are likely to have some interaction with the child welfare system, yet the government fails (1) to protect children already in the system who are particularly vulnerable to trafficking, and (2) to meet the unique needs of trafficking survivors who are placed in the child welfare system following their rescue. Finally, the U.S. Government has failed to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts among and between federal and local agencies and has provided insufficient and inconsistent funding and training to combat trafficking.
Particularly concerning, victims of trafficking are often treated and prosecuted as criminals, rather than crime victims. The U.S. Government’s almost-exclusive emphasis on a criminal justice approach to trafficking, which, while important to apprehend and arrest traffickers, frequently results in unintended harms for people who are trafficked into the sex trade. The abusive and degrading nature of their arrests as well as the stigma and harms of criminal records violates the rights of trafficking survivors to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and exposes them to additional risks of exploitation by traffickers.