Further thoughts on trafficking and slavery

Posted on January 27th, 2009 by SUZANNE GOLDBERG

Columbia’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic recently filed a brief in the European Court of Human Rights involving the right of victims of sex trafficking to a remedy under various European and International Laws.  My recent article in the European Lawyer magazine, which takes a somewhat different view from Professor Franke’s post, elaborates the trafficking/slavery linkage.  Here’s an excerpt (you can link to the full article here ):

The UK officially abolished the trans-Atlantic slave trade more than 250 years ago, but it turns out that the practice is far from dead.
A case recently filed in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), M. v the United Kingdom, shows just how vigorous and heinous the slave trade continues to be. But the trade’s character has changed, with £5 billion generated each year largely from traffickers’ control of women and children, making trafficking in persons the second largest criminal activity in the world.
With clearer attention to the facts and more developed identification systems, the international community has begun to see these women and children for what they are – victims of severe human rights abuses.  M v the United Kingdom thus offers an important opportunity, during a crucial moment, for the ECtHR to clarify the obligations of Council of Europe member states to trafficking victims. A ruling in M’s favour would reinforce that sex trafficking is a modern form of slavery and should be treated with as much seriousness as we treat the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the past. It would also clarify and underscore states’ responsibilities to victims in their territories who have suffered human rights abuses, including the duty not to act in ways that expose victims to further harm.

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