The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (“Trafficking Protocol”) were adopted within weeks of each other in 2000. The United States is party to the Trafficking Protocol. It is also a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography. While an assessment of U.S. obligations under these two treaties is beyond the scope of this study, the committee believes that in seeking to identify best practices, policy makers and advocates should not limit themselves to a review of U.S. practices. Further, the committee was charged with identifying lessons that can be learned from international law and from law and practices in other countries. Noteworthy examples from international law or other countries can be modified, as appropriate, to fit the circumstances of law and programs in the United States.
In its review of selected international examples, the committee identified parallels between the U.S. response and the responses of other countries. Notably, many countries, including the United States, have responded by advancing a three-pronged framework that includes government efforts to criminalize and prosecute commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, to provide assistance to victims and survivors, and to develop prevention measures. The similarities among various countries’ responses are not surprising given that the Trafficking Protocol establishes this three-part framework. The committee also found that many other countries, like the United States, are still in the very early stages of understanding and
developing effective responses to the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Furthermore, the committee encountered the same significant challenge in reviewing international and foreign responses that it faced in reviewing the U.S. response—a lack of evidence-based research on and evaluation of existing laws and programs. The committee highlights in this appendix selected lessons from the international arena that it deems potentially promising and worthy of further consideration in the United States.
One notable difference between international responses and the U.S. approach is the emphasis on a children’s rights framework. The committee’s review of international responses revealed that a children’s rights framework—which recognizes each child’s right to be protected from exploitation and to be assisted if harmed—has the potential to advance efforts to protect vulnerable children from being exploited and to ensure that minors who are victims or survivors receive needed services and assistance.
The committee also identified particular provisions of international law that it believes have the potential to further strengthen efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children and adolescents in the United States. The committee highlights below selected provisions from two multilateral treaties. The committee does not suggest these are the only, or necessarily the most important, examples. Rather, this appendix aims to identify selected innovative examples from the international arena that the committee believes are particularly relevant to the scope of this study.
As the primary focus of this study was on the United States, the committee limits its discussion of international law here to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005) (CATHB) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (2007) (CPCASE). The committee focused on these two conventions in part because they are relatively recent and reflect the growing understanding of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children and adolescents.
The committee believes the legal provisions cited below provide examples of noteworthy responses to the abuse of children and adolescents through commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. The committee reiterates its belief that the pressing needs of minors who are at risk of or suffer such exploitation demand that policy makers and advocates in the United States not limit themselves to ideas that arise in this country. All noteworthy practices should be considered, including ones listed in this appendix, as the United States develops its capacity to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors within its jurisdiction.
CATHB Article 5(2) requires that governments employ a “human rights-based approach and . . . use gender mainstreaming and a child-sensitive approach” in the development and implementation of prevention-related policies and programs.
CATHB Article 5(5) requires governments to “take specific measures to reduce children’s vulnerability to trafficking, notably by creating a protective environment for them.”
Stakeholder Participation and Coordination,
Including Children’s Participation
CPCASE Article 10(1): “Each Party shall take the necessary measures to ensure the co-ordination on a national or local level between the different agencies in charge of the protection from, the prevention of and the fight against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, notably the education sector, the health sector, the social services and the law-enforcement and judicial authorities.”
CPCASE Article 9:
“1 Each Party shall encourage the participation of children, according to their evolving capacity, in the development and the implementation of state policies, programmes or others initiatives concerning the fight against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children.
2 Each Party shall encourage the private sector, in particular the information and communication technology sector, the tourism and travel industry and the banking and finance sectors, as well as civil society, to participate in the elaboration and implementation of policies to prevent sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children and to implement internal norms through self-regulation or co-regulation.
3 Each Party shall encourage the media to provide appropriate information concerning all aspects of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, with due respect for the independence of the media and freedom of the press.
4 Each Party shall encourage the financing, including, where appropriate, by the creation of funds, of the projects and programmes carried out by civil society aiming at preventing and protecting children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”
CATHB Article 6 emphasizes the importance of addressing demand through “legislative, administrative, educational, social, cultural or other measures” and highlights the important role of media in addressing demand and “educational programmes for boys and girls during their schooling, which stress the unacceptable nature of discrimination based on sex, and its disastrous consequences, the importance of gender equality and the dignity and integrity of every human being.”
CPCASE Article 7: “Each Party shall ensure that persons who fear that they might commit any of the offences established in accordance with this Convention may have access, where appropriate, to effective intervention programmes or measures designed to evaluate and prevent the risk of offences being committed.”
For those who work with children and adolescents:
CPCASE Article 5 mandates legislative and other measures to “encourage awareness of the protection and rights of children among persons who have regular contacts with children in the education, health, social protection, judicial and law-enforcement sectors and in areas relating to sport, culture and leisure activities” and to ensure that the above persons “have an adequate knowledge of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, of the means to identify them and of the [possibility of reporting suspected cases to appropriate authorities.”
For children and adolescents:
CPCASE Article 6 states: “Each Party shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that children, during primary and secondary education, receive information on the risks of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, as well as on the means to protect themselves, adapted to their evolving capacity. This information, provided in collaboration with parents, where appropriate, shall be given within a more general context of information on sexuality and shall pay special attention to situations of risk, especially those involving the use of new information and communication technologies.”
CPCASE Article 8(2): “Each Party shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to prevent or prohibit the dissemination of materials advertising the offences established in accordance with this Convention.”
SERVICES FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS
Ensuring That Adolescents Receive Services
CATHB Article 10 requires that “when the age of the victim is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that the victim is a child, he or she shall be presumed to be a child and shall be accorded special protection measures pending verification of his/her age.”
Allowing Survivors Time to Recover Before Involving Them in
Criminal Investigations (Recovery and Reflection Period)
CATHB Article 13: “Each Party shall provide in its internal law a recovery and reflection period of at least 30 days, when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person concerned is a victim. Such a period shall be sufficient for the person concerned to recover and escape the influence of traffickers and/or to take an informed decision on cooperating with the competent authorities.” During this time, assistance must be provided to victims as set forth in Article 12 of CATHB.
Ensuring That Children Are Treated as Victims
CATHB Article 26: “Each Party shall, in accordance with the basic principles of its legal system, provide for the possibility of not imposing penalties on victims for their involvement in unlawful activities, to the extent that they have been compelled to do so.”
CPCASE Article 14(1): “Each Party shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to assist victims, in the short and long term, in their physical and psycho-social recovery. Measures taken pursuant to this paragraph shall take due account of the child’s views, needs and concerns.”
CPCASE Article 14(4): “Each Party shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that the persons who are close to the victim may benefit, where appropriate, from therapeutic assistance, notably emergency psychological care.”