Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Specific Criminal Offences

Last edited: January 25, 2011

This content is available in


Criminal provisions addressing the following should be included in legislation to combat sex trafficking:

  • Criminal sex trafficking offences by traffickers and buyers
  • Attempt sex trafficking offences (those who attempt sex trafficking should be held accountable in line with the offence of “attempt” of other serious crimes)
  • Aiding and abetting (those who assist and participate in the sex trafficking of others should be held accountable in line with the offence of “aiding and abetting” other serious offences)
  • Accomplice liability for sex trafficking
  • Organizing and directing others to commit sex trafficking offences
  • Unlawful use of documents in furtherance of sex trafficking
  • Unlawful disclosure of the identity of victims or witnesses
  • Aggravating circumstances for sex trafficking offences
  • Punishment for public officials involvement and complicity in trafficking and related exploitation

(See: UN Trafficking Protocol, Art.5; UNODC Model Law Against Trafficking in Persons, Chapters V and VII, 2009; UN Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, Guideline 4(10); UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection: The application of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees to victims of trafficking and persons at risk of being trafficked, Section II(d)(21-24), 9-10, 2006)

Promising Practices: 

European Union Directive 2011/36/EU addresses punishment for involvement and complicity in trafficking by public officials by listing it as an aggravating circumstance. In Article 4(3), the directive states that “Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the fact that an offence referred to in Article 2 [offences concerning trafficking in human beings] was committed by public officials in the performance of their duties is regarded as an aggravating circumstance.” (See: Directive 2011/36/EU, Article 4(3), European Union, 2011)

Thailand’s 2008 Law criminalizing sex trafficking includes increased penalties for public officials, those acting as public officials, members of government and members of government that are charged with enforcing the anti-trafficking framework. Specifically, the law states:

Section 12

Whoever commits the offences under this Act by professing himself to be an official and exercising the functions of an official without being an official having the power to do so, shall be liable to twice the punishment stipulated for such offence.

Section 13

Whoever, in the capacity as a member of the House of Representatives, member of the Senate, member of a Local Administration Council, Local Administrator, Government Official, employee of the Local Administration  Organization, or employee of an organization or a public agency, member of a board, executive, or employee of state enterprise, an official, or member of a board of any organization under the Constitution, commits an offence under this Act shall be liable to twice the punishment stipulated for such offence. Any member of the Committee, member of Sub-Committee, member of any working group and competent official empowered to act in accordance with this Act, committing an offence under this Act, shall be liable to thrice the punishment stipulated for such offence. (See: The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, B.E 2551 (2008), Sections 12-13, 2008)


Drafters should review the common elements found in model legislation and existing laws against sex trafficking. (See Resources for Drafting Laws on Sex Trafficking) In addition, drafters should be aware of the effectiveness of current sex trafficking legislation by reviewing reports on the implementation of such laws. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United States Department of State publish annual reports on trafficking in persons. Drafters should review these assessments of national governments’ responses to sex trafficking around the world in order to incorporate lessons learned into new draft laws on the sex trafficking of women and girls. Drafters may also wish to review the submissions of their respective national governments to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women as well as the concluding observations of this committee on the state party’s reports.  Shadow reports by non-governmental organizations should also be consulted whenever drafters review government submissions to ensure drafters are aware of the on-the-ground response to government efforts to draft and implement sex trafficking laws. 

The UNODC 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons indicates that 134 out of the 162 countries and territories in its report have criminalized human trafficking. An additional 19 countries or territories have legislation restricted to some forms of exploitation and/or to limited categories of victims. These numbers show progress internationally, with countries either adopting or amending laws in order to comply with the UN Trafficking Protocol. The report further identifies that the number of countries that have legislation criminalizing only some aspects of human trafficking has dropped from 17 percent in 2008 to 11 percent in 2012. (See: UNODC 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, UNODC, 2012)