Trafficking as a Human Rights Violation: The Complex Intersection of Legal Frameworks for Conceptualizing and Combating Trafficking

The author will focus on three legal instruments: (1) the 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (the Trafficking Protocol); (2) the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2000; and (3) the regulations issued in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Justice to implement the T visa for trafficking victims. The U.S. response to trafficking illustrates the difficulties faced by human rights advocates in source, transit, and destination countries to insure that anti-trafficking and other migration control measures ameliorate rather than aggravate the human rights deprivations suffered by trafficking victims. Social movements working to combat violence against women and to promote the welfare of children have strongly influenced recent policy developments concerning trafficking. However, primary influence over implementation of anti-trafficking measures remains with law enforcement and migration authorities, for whom security, rather than victim assistance, is of paramount importance.