Drafters should ensure that protections for victims and witnesses include the identification and screening for sex trafficking victims, a reflection period, provision of basic benefits and services, crime victim rights, crime victim-witness protection, and remedies for immigrant victims.
Drafters should ensure that sex trafficking laws require law enforcement and other first responders to proactively identify trafficking victims. Indicators and screening questions have been developed to assist non-governmental organizations, law enforcement and others to identify trafficking victims. (See: UNODC Anti-Human Trafficking Manual, Module 2, 2009) Once identified, trafficking victims should be referred to service providers for assistance. Formal referral mechanisms should be put in place to ensure such assistance as in the Czech Republic. (See: U.S. State Department 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report, 120, 2009)
Law enforcement, service providers and medical professionals, in particular, should look beneath the surface of any situation where they suspect an individual has been trafficked for labor or for sexual exploitation. In particular, individuals detained on prostitution-related offences must be screened given the clear links between sex trafficking and prostitution. While not all individuals involved in prostitution are trafficked, many will clearly meet the definition of a trafficking victim under the UN Protocol definition, national or local law. Screening is particularly important where children are concerned so that rather than being placed in juvenile detention, children receive services.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime created an Anti-Human Trafficking Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, which contains a module describing the indictors that may be present to assist first responders in identifying trafficking victims. Indicators include, but are not limited to:
Anti-Human Trafficking Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, Module 2, 2009; available in English;
Screening Tools for Victims of Trafficking, US Department of Health and Human Services; available in English.
Promising Practices: In some countries, state and local governments have taken steps to proactively identify victims among vulnerable populations, including women and children in the sex industry. For example, in Austria, “the government reported that it made proactive efforts to identify trafficking victims among Austria’s sizable, legal commercial sex sector.” (See: U.S. State Department 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report, 69, 2009) In New York, USA, the state legislature enacted a law which provides minors who are identified as vulnerable to sexual exploitation with the services and assistance they need to escape the exploitation. (See: Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act, New York, USA, 2008) The government of Alberta, Canada enacted the “Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act” in 2000 to ensure that children involved in prostitution are considered victims and provided with services. At the same time, the Alberta law holds offenders accountable by charging those who exploit children in prostitution with the offense of child abuse. Convicted offenders are imprisoned and fined if convicted. (See: Alberta, Canada; Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act, R.S.A. 2000)
Drafters should ensure that the law does not require verification of trafficking in order to receive services. Rather, victims must be identified, but need not be verified. (See: UNHCR The Identification and Referral of Trafficked Persons to Procedures for Determining International Protection Needs, para. 22)
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