Our Goals

Around the world, traffickers hold tens of millions of men, women, and children in forced labor, involuntary servitude, forced prostitution, and child commercial sexual exploitation. Traffickers prey on citizens and immigrants alike, enjoying almost complete impunity across the globe.  The 2017 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report stated that there were only 14,897 trafficking prosecutions worldwide in 2016.

We strive for accountability through three core objectives:

1. Hold the U.S. government accountable

The U.S. federal government prosecutes very few criminal human trafficking cases—particularly for forced labor. In 2016, the federal authorities prosecuted just 241 cases.  Of those, just 13 cases were for forced labor.  And even though federal law mandates that trafficking victims receive financial compensation in the form of criminal restitution, restitution is rarely ordered.

This means that women, men, and children who have suffered egregious abuse are routinely left empty-handed, deprived of the compensation they deserve. Meanwhile, dangerous traffickers continue to thrive on a high-reward, low-risk model, protected by government inaction.

The Human Trafficking Legal Center conducts cutting-edge research to expose system failures. With this data, we conduct outreach to federal prosecutors and drive structural reform.

2. Deter human traffickers by forcing them to pay compensation to victims

Most trafficking victims never see their day in court. Few survivors are aware that there is an alternate path to justice: civil litigation. Courageous trafficking survivors can bring their own cases in civil court against traffickers – and against third parties who benefit from these crimes – for damages. The Human Trafficking Legal Center trains skilled attorneys willing to represent victims at no cost. Through civil litigation, survivors can secure justice.

3. Challenge impunity through strategic litigation

Civil litigation not only secures compensation for victims, it drives systemic change.  Advocates across the world are using strategic litigation to hold perpetrators, governments, corporations, and third-parties accountable for trafficking crimes. The Human Trafficking Legal Center and its partners use strategic litigation as a catalyst for change: forcing government action, driving legal reform, punishing perpetrators, and compelling action by businesses to end or prevent abuses.