Empowering Victims of Human Trafficking: The Role of Support, Assistance and Protection Policies


Jorge-Birol, Alline P. 2008. "Empowering Victims of Human Trafficking: The Role of Support, Assistance and Protection Policies." HUMSEC Journal 2: 163-78.

Author: Alline P. Jorge-Birol


According to the ‘push and pull’ factors of human trafficking, traffickers and recruiters take advantage of the legal vacuum and of socio-economic problems present in post-conflict areas. Unemployment, poverty, lack of education, gender discrimination and family violence are conditions that turn recruitment into an easy task ― especially when future victims are often recruited under false pretenses and with false promises. Once recruited, these human beings are most frequently turned into traffickers’ commodities and end up as victims of forced labour and sexual exploitation. Besides primary victimization, practice shows that when ‘caught’ by law enforcement officers these human beings, are often identified as illegal migrants and neither recognized nor protected as victims. This paper intends to show the importance of proper help and protection for trafficked victims. ‘Best practices’ such as reflection delay, the permit to stay in the country, psychological and social assistance both before and after repatriation to the country of origin, may help to empower victims and to convince them to contribute to the criminal justice system. Trafficked victims who are sufficiently supported and protected are more likely to report the crime and to contribute to investigations by identifying and testifying against the offenders. If trafficked victims are not recognized as such, criminal justice systems lose important evidence and are unable to enforce criminal law against traffickers. Moreover, the promotion of victims’ needs is essential for the promotion of human security, which should also be a target of the counter-trafficking policies.

Keywords: criminal justice, accountability, migration, human trafficking, forced labour, push-factors, pull-factors

Topics: Gender, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking

Year: 2008

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