EVERY TRAFFICKING VICTIM IN THE UNITED STATES SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO JUSTICE.
“I feel like the powerful people are on my side now.”
—Trafficking Survivor, referred by HT Pro Bono
The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center trains talented pro bono attorneys to represent trafficking victims in the United States. It makes referrals on a case-by-case basis, providing mentoring and extensive technical assistance for complex civil, immigration, and criminal cases. HT Pro Bono attorneys monitor the developing case law, focusing on impact litigation in the federal courts. HT Pro Bono also conducts research and maintains a comprehensive database on federal civil trafficking cases. It works in concert with other groups to promote policy reform that will end the scourge of trafficking.
In the ten years since Congress created a civil remedy, trafficking victims have filed just 129 cases. Pro bono attorneys give victims the chance to hold traffickers accountable, gain restitution, and reclaim their lives.
New report released on human trafficking and mandatory criminal restitution in federal cases.
United States law guarantees trafficking victims mandatory criminal restitution. But a new report co-published today by The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center and the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP shows that the justice system is failing to provide legally-required restitution to victims in nearly two-thirds of cases.
The report, the result of more than two thousand pro bono hours of legal research, finds that courts order criminal restitution to trafficking victims in just 36 percent of federal cases that end in guilty pleas or criminal convictions.
Titled “When ‘Mandatory’ Does Not Mean Mandatory: Failure to Obtain Criminal Restitution in Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking,” the report includes in-depth analysis of federal criminal trafficking indictments brought between 2009 and 2012.
The four years of case data revealed significant patterns. The authors found that a key determinant of whether restitution would be ordered was, simply, whether the prosecutor requested it. Also, researchers found major discrepancies between trafficking cases into the sex industry and trafficking into other labor sectors. The average restitution order in sex trafficking cases was just $46,211.66, while the average restitution order in forced labor cases was $213,939.21. And, most surprising, victims of labor trafficking were substantially more likely to obtain restitution than those held in sex trafficking.
The report outlines three model cases in which prosecutors successfully maximized criminal restitution for victims. In each of these cases, excellent, well-trained federal prosecutors vigorously pursued restitution. The victims also had outside pro bono legal counsel who advocated for their clients’ rights under the federal restitution statute, 18 USC §1593.
The research close-date was February 1, 2014. Cases still open on that date were not included in the research findings.
Victims in need of assistance should contact The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
NEWS & HIGHLIGHTS
- Human Trafficking Report Card:
Justice for Trafficking Victims in the United States?
- New HT Pro Bono Report: “When ‘Mandatory’ Does Not Mean Mandatory: Failure to Obtain Criminal Restitution in Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking”.
- HT Pro Bono Partners with Innovative Law Firm in Charlotte, NC Offering Pro Bono Services to Trafficking Survivors.
- HT Pro Bono honored by Maryland Women’s Law Center.
- Martina Vandenberg Appears on MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Daily. More information and view episode.
- HT Pro Bono Leads Coalition Combating Trafficking by Diplomats in the U.S.: See our op-ed in the The Washington Post, on abuse by diplomats.
- Cutting-Edge Civil Remedies for Trafficking Victims in the U.S.: HT Pro Bono led panel discussion at the Freedom Network Conference in San Francisco.
- Jenner & Block LLP Named to The National Law Journal’s 2014 Pro Bono Hot List: One of only ten firms recognized, J&B received the honor for its anti-trafficking work undertaken in partnership with HT Pro Bono.
- Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Award: Presented to HT Pro Bono’s president, Martina Vandenberg, by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call For Human Rights.
- Creating a Bench of Pro Bono Attorneys: HT Pro Bono has trained more than 900 highly skilled attorneys throughout the U.S. using a rights-based approach that empowers trafficking survivors.