Since the adoption of the Protocol, 90 percent of countries now have laws criminalizing human trafficking. Yet the number of convictions is troublingly low, and it is still extremely rare for victims to access effective remedies for the harm they have suffered, pointing to a significant gap between enactment and implementation of laws and standards.
While remedies remain out of reach for trafficked victims, there is reason to be optimistic that this will change. Legal mechanisms to claim compensation exist in many countries, and civil society groups are stepping forward to support victims of trafficking to access them. There is a growing body of research about remedies, and the UNODC global case law database not only yields examples of cases where trafficked people have secured them but provides an ongoing international public record of acknowledgments of the violation of trafficked persons rights and corresponding state sanctions against perpetrators. The adoption of a new ILO Protocol supplementing the widely ratified Forced Labour Convention adds weight to international efforts to improve access to remedies for victims of trafficking regardless of their presence or legal status in the country in which they were exploited.
Remedies, as a core component of response to any kind of injustice, should be an essential element of efforts to address human trafficking. They are instrumental for victims’ recovery, reinstatement of their rights, and prevention of their re-victimization. This paper examines the right to effective remedies for victims of trafficking in persons under international law, the scope of its application, and the challenges that arise in providing remedies to victims at the national level. It concludes by offering practical recommendations to improve access to remedies for victims of trafficking in persons.
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