Drafters should criminalize the offence of sex trafficking. Without prosecutions and convictions of sex traffickers, there will be no deterrents for this crime and no message to the community about its heinous and criminal nature.
The criminal offence of sex trafficking typically includes three distinct components: the acts by which sex trafficking is committed, the means by which sex trafficking is committed, and the purpose for which sex trafficking is committed. (For more information, please see the Definitions section of this module)
In addition to criminalizing the act of sex trafficking, legislation should also criminalize attempts to commit sex trafficking, aiding and abetting sex trafficking, the unlawful use of documents in furtherance of sex trafficking, and unlawful disclosure of the identity of victims or witnesses; and create accomplice liability for sex trafficking. (See: UN Trafficking Protocol, Arts. 3 and 5)
Drafters should ensure that the penalties for sex trafficking address aggravating circumstances and punishment for public officials’ involvement and complicity in sex trafficking and related exploitation.
Drafters should also ensure that the criminalization of sex trafficking is accompanied by penalties for the buyers. Efforts to address the demand for the sale of human beings for sex is a critical component to combating sex trafficking. (See also the sub-section on Penalties for Buyers)
Drafters should also ensure that the criminalization of sex trafficking is accompanied by penalties for the buyers. A growing body of research suggests that efforts to address the demand for the sale of human beings for sex is a critical component to combating sex trafficking. (See also the sub-section on Penalties for Buyers.)
Legislation criminalizing sex trafficking and sex trafficking-related offences should not inadvertently penalize trafficking victims for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked. Drafters should affirmatively protect trafficking victims from being arrested, charged, detained and convicted of such crimes. Without such protections, the human rights of trafficking victims cannot be protected. Furthermore, trafficking victims will be reluctant if not unwilling to participate in the prosecution of their traffickers without such protections because they fear retaliation, harm and death. For more information, see the sub-sections on Victim and Witness Protection and Assistance and Reflection Periods.
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