Our Publications

Federal Human Trafficking Civil Litigation: 15 Years of the Private Right of Action

In October 2003, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a law allowing trafficking victims to recover civil damages for trafficking in federal courts. This publication tracks the statute’s geographical reach, types of cases, case outcomes, damages awards, and more in a comprehensive review of the past 15 years of civil litigation under the TVPRA.

Federal Civil Human Trafficking Cases Involving Allegations of Domestic Servitude

Nearly one-third of civil human trafficking cases filed in federal courts in the past 15 years stemmed from allegations of domestic servitude. This publication lists all federal civil domestic servitude cases filed between the enactment of the civil provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2003 and November 2018.

Using the Optional Protocol Under CEDAW to Combat Human Trafficking 

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its supplemental treaty, the Optional Protocol, provide powerful tools to combat discrimination against women and to promote the rights of women and girls. This publication provides a practice guide for using the Optional Protocol to combat human trafficking of women and girls.

United States Federal Courts’ Continuing Failure to Order Mandatory Criminal Restitution for Human Trafficking Victims

Under federal law, criminal restitution for trafficking victims is mandatory. This mandatory restitution law is currently observed in the breach. This publication, written by the Human Trafficking Legal Center with extensive research and editing by WilmerHale, examines why courts fail to order mandatory restitution for trafficking victims and what can be done to remedy this failure.

U.S. Legal Remedies for Minor Victims of Sex Tourism and Sex Trafficking

The PROTECT Act, a federal law adopted in 2003, makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to travel abroad to sexually abuse children. A Ropes & Gray pro bono legal team, collaborating with the Human Trafficking Legal Center, conducted extensive research on federal criminal and civil cases brought against abusers since the law’s passage.

Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking & Forced Labor in For-Profit Detention Facilities

This publication analyzes civil federal trafficking cases brought against detention facilities and affiliated entities in the United States. The cases provide vivid examples of allegations against private prison corporations, municipalities, and others for violations of trafficking, involuntary servitude, and forced labor laws.  Detainees and others have courageously come forward to demand an end to these alleged abuses.

Federal Criminal and Civil Trafficking Cases Involving Legal Visas

The Human Trafficking Legal Center maintains comprehensive databases on civil and criminal trafficking cases filed in the United States.  The data show that the widely-held belief that all trafficking victims enter the country without legal documentation is simply false. In a large number of federal criminal and civil trafficking cases, foreign-born human trafficking victims enter the United States with legal visas, eager to work in legitimate jobs. Instead, the workers discover that their employer-sponsored visas render them vulnerable to traffickers. This publication tracks federal criminal and civil trafficking cases filed in federal courts involving victims with legal visas.

Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence: Fact Sheet

This fact sheet documents the nexus between domestic violence and human trafficking. Drawing on federal criminal indictments, civil trafficking cases, and immigration decisions, the case studies compiled here provide a resource for advocates representing human trafficking victims subjected to domestic violence.  The Human Trafficking Legal Center provides this fact sheet in part to assist advocates handling T-visa applications for trafficking survivors who may be married or related to their traffickers. For technical assistance on these issues, please contact info@htlegalcenter.org.

Amicus Brief: Menocal et al. v. The Geo Group, Inc.

The Human Trafficking Legal Center, Tahirih Justice Center, ASISTA, Freedom Network USA, and Sanctuary for Families submitted this amicus brief to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of former immigrant detainees who alleged that GEO Group, a private prison and detention company, coerced them into forced labor under threat of solitary confinement, paying them $1.00 a day.

Medical Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking and Health Care Providers

Co-authored with HEAL Trafficking, this fact sheet documents incidents that illustrate how human trafficking has presented in health care settings. Citing to federal criminal indictments and civil trafficking cases, this fact sheet is a resource to assist medical professionals in recognizing red flags and risk factors.

Diplomatic Immunity and the Abuse of Domestic Workers: Criminal and Civil Remedies in the United States

An analysis of civil and criminal remedies for domestic workers trafficked by diplomats and international organization employees.

Citation: Martina E. Vandenberg & Sarah Bessell, Diplomatic Immunity and the Abuse of Domestic Workers: Criminal and Civil Remedies in the United States, 26 Duke J. Comp. & Int’l L. 595 (2016).

Trafficking of Persons with Disabilities in the United States Fact Sheet

An overview of federal criminal and civil cases involving trafficking victims with disabilities, including an analysis of human trafficking risks for this population.

Ending impunity, securing justice: Using strategic litigation to combat modern-day slavery and human trafficking

Co-authored with the Freedom Fund, this report details how advocates can use strategic litigation to create systemic change in combating human trafficking.  Citing successful case studies, the report is a guide for advocates interested in pursuing strategic trafficking litigation worldwide.

Breaking the Law: The Failure to Award Mandatory Criminal Restitution to Victims in Sex Trafficking Cases

A quantitative assessment concluding that courts routinely fail to order Congressionally-mandated criminal restitution to trafficking victims.  Child victims of sex trafficking are least likely to receive mandatory restitution orders in the federal courts.

Citation: Alexandra F. Levy & Martina E. Vandenberg, Breaking the Law: The Failure to Award Mandatory Criminal Restitution to Victims in Sex Trafficking Cases, 60(1) St. Louis Univ. L. J. 43 (2015).

When “Mandatory” Does Not Mean Mandatory: Failure to Obtain Criminal Restitution in Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking in the United States

This report, co-authored with WilmerHale, is an in-depth examination of all federal criminal human trafficking cases brought between 2009 and 2012. Analysis of the court dockets showed that restitution was awarded in just 36% of cases.  The conclusion: for trafficking victims, mandatory does not mean mandatory.

Human Trafficking and Diplomatic Immunity: Impunity No More?

An analysis of the intersection between diplomatic immunity and efforts to secure justice for trafficking victims exploited by diplomats and international officials in the United States.  The article discusses the role of diplomatic immunity in criminal prosecutions and civil suits.

Citation: Martina E. Vandenberg & Alexandra Levy, Human Trafficking and Diplomatic Immunity: Impunity No More?, 7 Intercultural Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 77 (2012).