2015 Trust Conference Action

'TrustLaw Litigation for Trafficking'

Presented by Martina Vandenberg - Founder and President, The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center


A hub bringing together lawyers and NGOs in the fight for justice by enabling advocates to share best practices in anti-trafficking litigation.

The Presentation

The Problem

Human trafficking, a modern form of slavery, is a global human rights scourge of extraordinary proportions. According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 20.9 million people are trafficked for labour and sexual exploitation worldwide.

Only a tiny fraction of traffickers are held criminally accountable. Although the ILO estimates that 16.4 million of these 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour exploitation, the US Department of State identified just 418 prosecutions in the entire world for labour trafficking and servitude in 2014.  Clearly, prosecution alone will not be enough to end forced labour and modern slavery.

Victims of trafficking suffer unspeakable abuses. They need remedies. And to obtain remedies, these victims need lawyers.

Specialised lawyers can help trafficking victims obtain immigration relief, secure access to public services, defend themselves against wrongful prosecution, win criminal restitution from their traffickers, and seek justice through the civil courts. Some courageous trafficking survivors may wish to sue for financial compensation from their traffickers. But they cannot do this alone.

The Action

The Thomson Reuters Foundation and HT Pro Bono will partner to create TrustLaw Litigation for Trafficking, bringing together lawyers and NGOs in the fight for justice. The Trafficking Litigation Hub will allow advocates to share best practices in anti-trafficking litigation. This cross-border platform will encourage the use of innovative litigation strategies to fight modern-day slavery around the world. It will increase victims’ access to sophisticated counsel. And it will increase the chance that trafficking victims can recover financial compensation. Seizure of traffickers’ proceeds of crime - even in civil cases - offers another benefit: deterrence. 

The Hub will provide an international platform for:

The initial phase of the Action will be a consultation with lawyers and NGOs working in this field to explore the different approaches required in different jurisdictions. The Hub will launch in key jurisdictions in partnership with advocates on the ground.  This referral and information-sharing network will then expand geographically once these pilots are successfully established.

What help is needed

We want to hear from:

Can you support this action

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