NEW PUBLICATION: Child Trafficking: Issues for Policy and Practice

 

Child Trafficking: Issues for Policy and Practice

V. Jordan Greenbaum, Katherine Yun, Jonathan Todres

Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, 46(1): 159-163 (2018)

Abstract

Efforts to address child trafficking require intensive collaboration among professionals of varied disciplines. Healthcare professionals have a major role in this multidisciplinary approach. Training is essential for all professionals, and policies and protocols may assist in fostering an effective, comprehensive response to victimization.

Click here for the full article.

Children's Rights at Leiden Law School

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I am honored to have been invited to give two talks at Leiden Law School in the Netherlands on March 22-23, 2018. I had the opportunity to share my research on human rights in children's literature with children's rights faculty, staff, and students, and then present on child trafficking to human rights students.  In short, Leiden Law School is a wonderfully engaged and dynamic place. The faculty, staff, and students working on children's rights issues (and other human rights issues) were the perfect hosts. My sincere thanks to the entire community. I hope I can visit again soon.

For more on Leiden's children's rights program, click here.

p.s. The city of Leiden is wonderful too!

 

 

 

NEW PUBLICATION: Confronting Child Exploitation: The Optional Protocols and the Role of Children’s Rights Law

I have a new chapter “Confronting Child Exploitation: The Optional Protocols and the Role of Children’s Rights Law" published in Violence against Children: Making Human Rights Real, edited by Gertrud Lenzer, Routledge, January 2018. 

For more information on the book, click here.

 

NEW PUBLICATION: Adolescents’ Right to Participate: Opportunities and Challenges for Health Care Professionals

 

Adolescents’ Right to Participate: Opportunities and Challenges for Health Care Professionals

Jonathan Todres & Angela Diaz

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Health care professionals and patients are partners in health care delivery, and this partnership is critical in the treatment of adolescents. International children’s rights law establishes that all children have a right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Fulfillment of that right is as critical in health care settings as any other area of children’s lives.

OBJECTIVES: In this article we examine the right to participate under international children’s rights law, its relevance to health care settings, and how health care professionals can foster adolescents’ participation to fulfill children’s rights and improve health care outcomes.

FINDINGS: The Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes a legal mandate—where ratified— that adolescents have the right to express their views in health care settings and that such views must be given due consideration. In many health care settings, adolescents are not adequately consulted or have limited opportunities to express their views. A review of research finds that both processes and outcomes can improve when youth participation is cultivated.

CONCLUSIONS: Health care providers and organizations have numerous opportunities to cultivate adolescent’s participation rights and in doing so improve health care delivery and outcomes. Health care providers and organizations should further develop structures and processes to ensure opportunities for children and adolescents to be heard on matters relevant to their health care and health status. Creating opportunities for adolescents to realize their right to participate means engaging youth at every stage in the process, beginning with the design of such opportunities. It also means addressing all aspects of health care, from the built environment to patient-provider communication to follow-up services, so that the entire process fosters an environment conductive to meaningful participation by adolescents

Click here for the full article.

CRC Committee Releases Recommendations on U.S. Response to Child Trafficking

Last month, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child met with a U.S. government delegation as part of its formal review of the United States under two of the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States ratified the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2002, and this represented a combined third and fourth review of the U.S. government practices. The Committee has now released its Concluding Observations  with respect to the U.S. efforts under the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children.

While acknowledging a number of important legislative developments in the United States since the last review – such as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) and the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act – the Committee also addressed a number of critical shortcomings. What is notable (and troubling) is that many of the Committee’s recommendations highlighted issues in the U.S. response that the Committee previously addressed in 2008 and 2013. These findings should be a reminder to policy makers and anti-trafficking advocates that although significant efforts are underway, the U.S. response still has a long way to go.

Highlights of the Committee recommendations are below:

1.       Insufficient data collection and evidence-based research. The Committee reiterated concerns over the “lack of progress on establishing an effective national data collection system on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography” and the “insufficient research and evidence-based policy and programme analysis centred on children and the root causes of the crimes affecting them.” Simply put, without good evidence, it’s highly unlikely that the U.S. can develop a truly effective response.

2.       Lack of evaluation of training programs. The Committee praised the U.S. government’s report that it provides training on trafficking and other issues covered by the Optional Protocol “to all persons and institutions that come into contact with children” (NGOs working on these issues will be surprised by this claim by the U.S. government). However, the Committee notes the importance of evaluating the effectiveness and impact of that training. Evaluation of laws, policies, and programs continues to be insufficient, leaving it unclear whether the U.S. is doing something or doing something effective.

3.       Unbalanced efforts in addressing sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The Committee restated its finding that across many areas the U.S. government’s emphasis on sex trafficking persists. There still are higher legal burdens for establishing trafficking of children for forced labor than for sexual exploitation, and research remains “overwhelmingly focused on trafficking for sexual exploitation” with relatively little on labor trafficking. All children deserve protection from exploitation.

4.        Lack of primary prevention focus and efforts. The Committee again noted that the U.S. response typically takes place after some harm has occurred and urged the U.S. government to focus also on primary and secondary prevention. Prevention must be the ultimate goal, and general awareness campaigns are not sufficient. The U.S. government must address the root causes of vulnerability and of the demand for goods and services provided by exploited children, if we are to make meaningful progress in preventing harm to children.

5.       Finally, the Committee also acknowledged the recent surge in the number of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children, and it urged the U.S. government to take concerted efforts to ensure the protection of these children.

The entire Concluding Observations are worth a close reading. Addressing the above recommendations and other recommendations in the Concluding Observations will take significant effort and resources to address. However, they offer a roadmap to preventing harm to children and ensuring the rights of all children. Both of those aims seem worth the effort and resources.

 

Why Human Rights Matter to Anti-Trafficking Efforts

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  Despite the tireless efforts of many, as President Obama statedin his recent Presidential Proclamation, “the injustice of modern slavery and human trafficking still tears at our social fabric.” This month provides an opportunity to both raise awareness about the problem and galvanize support for action that can reduce the prevalence of human trafficking.

There is a growing body of law at the international, national, and state levels addressing human trafficking specifically.  Although those represent important developments, there has been limited progress on the root causes of human trafficking. That’s where human rights come in. Human trafficking thrives because there is demand for the good and services produced by exploited individuals and because there are millions of vulnerable adults and children.

The foundational principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” – is a direct challenge to the devaluation of human lives that is embedded in the demand side of human trafficking. Human rights education  fosters tolerance and reduces disregard for others’ rights.  And, when realized, human rights – including the rights to birth registration, health care, education, and housing; labor rights; and the principle of nondiscrimination, to name a few – can reduce the vulnerability of marginalized populations so that they are not pushed into human trafficking settings.

The challenges we face today as human rights advocates are seemingly endless. It’s often difficult simply drawing sufficient attention to rights violations. Human trafficking is one area where everyone from policymakers to parents wants action.  Demonstrating the value of human rights to human trafficking can help advance anti-trafficking efforts and serve as a model for applying human rights approaches to other pressing issues.

 

First published at Home Rights at Home blog.

NEW PUBLICATION: Physician Encounters with Human Trafficking: Legal Consequences and Ethical Considerations

Abstract:

There is growing recognition and evidence that health care professionals regularly encounter—though they may not identify—victims of human trafficking in a variety of health care settings. Identifying and responding appropriately to trafficking victims or survivors requires not only training in trauma-informed care but also consideration of the legal and ethical issues that arise when serving this vulnerable population. This essay examines three areas of law that are relevant to this case scenario: criminal law, with a focus on conspiracy; service provider regulations, with a focus on mandatory reporting laws; and human rights law. In addition to imposing a legal mandate, the law can inform ethical considerations about how health care professionals should respond to human trafficking.

Click here for the full article, published in the AMA Journal of Ethics (January 2017).

NEW PUBLICATION: The Complexities of Conducting Research on Child Trafficking

There is growing recognition of the need for more evidence-based research on child trafficking. However, such research raises important legal and ethical questions. 

In a new essay for JAMA Pediatrics, my colleague, Leslie Wolf and I examine some of the legal and ethical issues in conducting research on child trafficking.

Click here for a link to the article on the JAMA Pediatrics website.

 

NEW PUBLICATION: Can Mandatory Reporting Laws Help Child Survivors of Human Trafficking?

Can Mandatory Reporting Laws Help Child Survivors of Human Trafficking?

Abstract:

Once thought of as primarily a criminal justice issue, human trafficking is now recognized an issue that implicates all sectors of society. Trafficked individuals have been identified in a breadth of industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, construction, mining, fisheries, forestry, health care, hospitality and tourism, domestic service, restaurants, forced-begging operations, and the sex industry. Preventing exploitation across so many sectors requires a comprehensive, coordinated response. In addition to the criminal justice system, social services, health care professionals, educators, businesses, media, and others all have a role to play in addressing human trafficking and its attendant forms of exploitation. As part of the recent push to broaden engagement in anti-trafficking efforts, policymakers and advocates have identified mandatory child abuse reporting statutes as a vehicle for engaging health care providers, educators, and others professionals who work with children to help identify children at risk of or exploited by human trafficking. This article examines the potential impact of mandatory reporting laws on efforts to address child trafficking. In the past several years, roughly one-quarter of the states have amended their mandatory reporting laws to cover some or all forms of human trafficking. This article argues that these measures, while well-intentioned, might not have the intended impact without further action. The article examines the potential for mandatory reporting to address both sex trafficking and labor trafficking and then discusses how to make mandatory reporting a more effective tool for addressing the trafficking of children.

Click here to access the full article.

NEW PUBLICATION: Human Trafficking and Film: How Popular Portrayals Influence Law and Public Perception

Popular portrayals of human trafficking matter. They shape the prevailing understanding of the issue, which in turn influences the law and policy developed to address human trafficking. This essay examines the interplay between law and culture, specifically cinematic expressions. It reviews three well-known films on human trafficking and explores some of the key misconceptions in each movie. The essay then shows how these misconceptions are prevalent in many law and policy responses to human trafficking. Finally, the author suggests how scholars and advocates might respond more effectively to cinematic (and other media) portrayals of human trafficking.

Available here.

The Reporting Process: An Underappreciated Human Rights Asset

The U.S. government recently announced a consultation with civil society on November 12 in conjunction with its next periodic report under the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2002 and is preparing to submit its third report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.  This is an important, if often undervalued, opportunity to advance the rights and well-being of children in the United States.

I have been privileged to participate in both prior reviews of the United States under the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, including presenting testimony to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child during its session with NGOs in advance of its meeting with the government.  Those experiences show that the reporting process offers three significant opportunities for human rights advocates. First, the Committee takes seriously the views of NGOs. Often the questions, or List of Issues, that the Committee poses to a government reflects gaps highlighted by NGOs in their alternative reports or in their testimony to the Committee.  Second, many of the Concluding Observations and recommendations for the government come from NGO input.  Finally, the post-review process offers a critical opportunity to use the recommendations in advocacy at home.  In prior reviews under the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, ECPAT-USA has coordinated the lead alternative report (full disclosure: I serve as child rights advisor to ECPAT-USA).  Following both prior reviews, NGOs organized briefing sessions in various cities in the United States.  After 2008 review of the United States, several NGO representatives (including ECPAT-USA representatives and me) spoke at congressional briefings in the Senate and House of Representatives. Subsequent advocacy spurred the introduction of a bill that became the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008.  The law addressed some of the recommendations that emerged out of the reporting process (that process is described in more detail here).  While that law isn’t perfect, it shows the potential that exists in the reporting process – the process can be successfully leveraged to advance human rights.

ECPAT-USA will again be coordinating the lead alternative report under the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children. And again, there is an opportunity to further advance law and policy aimed at securing children’s rights and well-being.

Simply put, the reporting process is a built-in monitoring and evaluation mechanism for human rights. While the substantive provisions of human rights law are essential and provide the basis for our work, the procedural benefits of human rights treaties – notably the reporting process – should not be overlooked.

Originally published at Human Rights at Home blog: http://bit.ly/1Q9eQiu.