• supremecourtresized

    Trafficking victims have rights guaranteed under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the National Crime Victims' Rights Act,
    including the right to seek civil damages in U.S. federal courts.

  • Woman_ironing

    Federal prosecutors have brought criminal cases across the United States alleging trafficking of domestic workers into forced labor.
    Pro bono litigators have brought civil trafficking cases, obtaining significant awards for victims.

  • Ag_Worker_Hat

    The International Labor Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are held in forced labor and servitude around the world.
    Yet prosecutors brought only 10,051 cases in the entire world in FY2014. Of those cases, only 418 indictments involved forced labor.

  • bricklayer

    Trafficking occurs in all labor sectors, including construction. In 2013, federal prosecutors in Ohio indicted the owner of a roofing
    company for allegedly trafficking workers from Mexico into forced labor. The defendant pled guilty to fraud charges.

  • Girl_alone_by_wall

    In 2014, federal prosecutors brought 208 criminal trafficking cases total, including 190 for sex trafficking of adults and children.

  • nurse_400x1000px

    The U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver recently obtained guilty verdicts in a trafficking scheme to bring nurses to the United States for
    forced labor. The court ordered the two defendants to pay $3.7 million in restitution to the victims.

  • un_flags_400x1000

    Diplomats and international organization officials have faced criminal and civil charges for trafficking and exploitation of domestic
    workers in the United States. In one civil case brought in federal court, a trafficking survivor obtained a $3.3 million verdict against
    a diplomat.




“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 (HT Pro Bono) 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 fourteen years since Congress created a civil remedy, trafficking victims have filed just 238 cases. Pro bono attorneys work with trafficking survivors to hold traffickers accountable, gain restitution, and reclaim their lives. 

New Report Released

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

Across the globe, stories of human trafficking and modern-day slavery dominate headlines and provoke community outrage.

But how can outrage be turned into action? How can we break the scandalous trade in human lives? How can we put an end to modern-day slavery?

In recent years, strategic litigation has been used to hold both states and private actors accountable for these gross violations of human rights. It is one of the most promising mechanisms—if not the most promising method—to secure justice for victims, punish perpetrators and drive lasting reform.

In May 2015, the Freedom Fund and the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center brought together leading human rights lawyers, advocates, and litigators from around the world to consider how to use strategic litigation to combat trafficking and modern-day slavery.

This conference report shares key issues discussed at the meeting, including lessons learned from successful litigation. It also highlights a number of persistent gaps that must be bridged in order to identify, prepare, and successfully prosecute cases that can lead to systemic change.

Strategic litigation is not just the domain of human rights lawyers and civil litigators. It is founded on close partnerships with all those committed to ending human trafficking and modern-day slavery: investigative journalists, human rights researchers, academics, and grassroots non-governmental organizations, to name just a few.

Click here to read report (PDF):


Victims in need of assistance should contact:
National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.