Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking at the University of Nebraska


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Paper presented at Fourth Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking, Lincoln, NE, October 12, 2012


Copyright (c) 2012 Ruby Andrew and Benjamin N. Lawrance.


This article discusses the effect of US and international support for local laws to combat child trafficking in sub-Saharan African states. The annual ranking of African anti-trafficking measures, produced by the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (OMCTP) in conjunction with the UN Office on Crime and Drugs, not only provides an important source of data but also creates a powerful incentive for African states to effect legislative change.

We argue that, although the US supports criminalization of traffickers and the OMCTP espouses laws to deter parental inducement to support trafficking activities, the implementation of the laws across Africa rarely mirror these goals. Several African states’ laws on trafficking appear to meet the OMCTP standards, but their local law enforcement approaches parental roles in coercion in complex and contradictory ways.

Using the available data, we explore the dimensions of African anti-trafficking programs. We then consider the language of model legislation provided to the African states by the US and United Nations. Based on our analysis of the US anti-trafficking approach, we interrogate the African states’ implementation of anti-trafficking laws. We demonstrate that the adoption of poorly-drafted model legislation has served to frustrate legal scrutiny of the role of parents and family in child- trafficking activities in sub-Saharan Africa.