Date of this Version
Presented at Fourth Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 13, 2012
There have been relatively few human trafficking convictions worldwide in comparison to the number of traffickers apprehended (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2006). In 2003, Lithuania prosecuted 24 people but only 8 were convicted whereas the Netherlands prosecuted 117 people but only 106 were convicted that same year (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2006). In September 2006, Nigeria sought its first human trafficking conviction (FoxNews.com). Even with the establishment of the Palermo Protocol in 2000 – which sought to standardize the definition of human trafficking at the international level – convictions have remained low. Why are some countries more successful at convicting human traffickers than others? I argue that conviction rates are largely a function of the lack of a clear, legal definition of human trafficking at the domestic level. An international definition of human trafficking exists, but this means that a country’s domestic anti-trafficking law must also be in conformity with the Palermo Protocol. In addition, the degree to which the domestic anti-trafficking law is being enforced is another important issue for whether or not traffickers are being apprehended. Thus, these two factors help to facilitate the likelihood of human trafficking convictions within a country.