Book Chapter

Criminalising Victims of Human Trafficking: State responses and punitive practices



Malloch M (2016) Criminalising Victims of Human Trafficking: State responses and punitive practices. In: Malloch M & Rigby P (eds.) Human Trafficking: The Complexities of Exploitation. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 175-193.

First paragraph: Despite the existence of national and international legislation (see earlier chapters), underpinned by practice guidelines and commitments, victims and survivors of human trafficking continue to be subject to prosecution and punishment by nation states that either fail to identify, recognise or acknowledge their status as victims of exploitation. Many individuals appear to be detained as ‘illegal migrants’ rather than treated as victims (or survivors) of crime. As with all areas of human trafficking, the extent to which this occurs is impossible to determine. However, despite a clear gap in evidence, there is a growing awareness of this problem. Indeed, it has been suggested that there are more victims of human trafficking detained in Scottish prisons than convicted traffickers (House of Lords 2014); while RACE in Europe (2013: 16) highlight significant concerns that while prosecution and conviction rates for trafficking crimes in the United Kingdom remain low, ‘there is a deep concern that those trafficked are instead being punished for the crimes that their traffickers force them to commit’ (see also All Party Parliamentary Group 2015). This would appear to be reflected elsewhere; despite international legislation and guidance to the contrary, victims of trafficking continue to be detained across the globe in prisons and immigration detention centres (for example, Amnesty International 2008; Human Rights Watch 2010; US Department of State 2010; CUNY School of Law 2014). This chapter considers why measures aimed at protecting victims of human trafficking from criminalisation and detention by host nation states do not appear to be operating effectively. It highlights the importance of locating these troubling circumstances within a broader context which links experiences of exploitation and trafficking with asylum-seeking, immigration and broader processes of criminalisation.

Publication date31/01/2016
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Publisher URL…trafficking.html
Place of publicationEdinburgh

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Professor Margaret Malloch

Professor Margaret Malloch

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology