The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (“Trafficking Protocol”) is part of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. It is one of the two Palermo protocols adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000. The trafficking protocol was signed on December 25, 2003. It is implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Under it, the ratifying states commit to preventing and protesting trafficking in persons and to protect and assist victims of trafficking and promote cooperation among states in order to meet those objectives. Ratifying states are also obligated to issue trafficking legislation at the national level.
Some of the significant aspects covered by the trafficking protocol are:
- facilitating the return and acceptance of children who have been victims of cross-border trafficking, with due regard to their safety;
- prohibiting the trafficking of children (which is defined as being a person under 18 years of age) for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), exploitative labor practices or the removal of body parts;
- suspending parental rights of parents, caregivers or any other persons who have parental rights in respect of a child should they be found to have trafficked a child;
- ensuring that trafficked persons are not punished for any offenses or activities related to their having been trafficked, such as prostitution and immigration violations;
- ensuring that victims of trafficking are protected from deportation or return where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that such return would represent a significant security risk to the trafficked person or their family;
- considering temporary or permanent residence in countries of transit or destination for trafficking victims in exchange for testimony against alleged traffickers, or on humanitarian and compassionate grounds;