Human trafficking is “the recruitment, harboring, conveyance, endowment, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, deception, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” Human trafficking is a canopy term for “when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service,” including, but not restricted to, forced labor, sex-trafficking, and bonded labor. This Comment uses the umbrella term “human trafficking” to include any number of trafficking classifications
Human trafficking is challenging to recognize for many reasons. Human trafficking is often “a hidden crime,” and sex trafficking is even more so, often “disseminated in alleys, brothels and illicit massage parlors.” Also, victims may travel between jurisdictions, leaving little time for law enforcement to recognize the crime and its players and to prosecute accordingly. Moreover, recognizing an individual engaging in criminal activity as a victim of crime rather than as an offender of crime is counterintuitive to the criminal-justice system. This Comment acknowledges the trouble for a law-enforcement officer to concurrently view a trafficked person as both a criminal committing an offense and a victim constrained by a human-trafficking situation to commit that offense. Along with it being challenging to recognize, human-trafficking victims do not frequently pursue help and may even hide the reality of their situation. It is not unusual for trafficking victims to defend their traffickers, at least primarily. Trafficking is differentiated from people smuggling because of the element of consent.
The new concentration on human trafficking has raised debate over the effectiveness of U.S. anti-trafficking policies. While everyone agrees that human trafficking must be brought to an end, they disagree over the best means for doing so. Much of the debate centers around the obligation of sanctions on countries in the lowest tier, as well as around the right of the U.S. to coerce other countries to take antitrafficking measures.
Critics of current U.S. policy question the effectiveness of sanctions in addressing the problem. Some say that since the sanctions are enacted on countries on which the U.S. already has imposed sanctions for other reasons or with which the U.S. does not have durable relations, such as Cuba and North Korea, they are simply symbolic. But other critics say that the sanctions do undeniably have an impact, and that as a result they essentially hurt those whom they are intended to help. They proclaim that the reason many people fall prey to human traffickers is that they are very deprived and jump at what they are told are authentic work prospects abroad. Levying sanctions will worsen those conditions, critics say, multiplying the number of people for traffickers to prey on. One of the largest impediments to shielding victims and prosecuting traffickers is the struggle of...