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Human Trafficking Center

Legislation and Declarations

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children —United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto. (November 15, 2000).

Commonly referred to as the Palermo Protocol, this international protocol is significant for its definition of trafficking in persons including means, mode, and motive involved in the crime. Notably, the document defines as a child anyone under the age of 18 and as trafficking any instance when a child is recruited, transported, transferred, harbored, or received for the purpose of exploitation regardless of whether or not the victim consents or appears to consent. While the protocol is not law and thus does not directly criminalize behavior or has the authority to implement the legal protocol and social services it describes, it does articulate that each state party to the protocol should adopt legal means to criminalize and try trafficking in persons, and that each state should provide physical, social, and psychological assistance to victims of trafficking to ensure their recovery.  As a document produced by the United Nations, the protocol is highly significant for its internationally accepted articulation of what constitutes trafficking and what is necessary to address the problem holistically, but because it does not possess an enforcing mechanism, it remains an ideal standard used to create and implement practical reform.


Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts. Barak Obama, (September 25, 2012).

This Presidential Executive Order was signed into law by President Barack Obama on September 25, 2012. It extended protections against trafficking in persons in federal contracts. In particular, it prohibited contractors from engaging in a number of trafficking related activities, including confiscating the passports of workers, charging employees recruitment fees, and destroying an employee’s identity documents. In addition, for contracts worth more than $500,000 contractors are now required to submit a compliance plan explaining their employee awareness procedures and report mechanisms in instances of human trafficking. The new Executive Order is notable in that it merely confirms regulations implemented by General George W. Casey, Commander of Multinational Forces Iraq in 2008.


Immigration and Nationality Act. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

This Act is the primary piece of legislation that governs immigration and citizenship in the United States. Relevant to the issue of human     trafficking, it codified a nonimmigrant visa for foreign victims of human trafficking, the T Visa. This Act includes all the of eligibility requirements pursuant to the T visa.


The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.

The TVPA of 2000 is the seminal United States legislation dealing with the issue of human trafficking in the US and abroad. It was reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013. Although the TVPA recognizes other forms of trafficking, such as forced labor and debt bondage that make up the majority of human trafficking cases, it was originally designed to fight sex trafficking.