Implementing the Non-punishment Principle for Victims of Trafficking

On 4-5 February, the GDP’s Michael Flynn served as a moderator during a two-day expert consultation convened by the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on trafficking in persons – Siobhán Mullally – aimed at informing the SR’s June 2021 report to the Human Rights Council.

The discussion was based on the 2020 paper published by the former Special Rapporteur, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, which examined the importance of implementing the non-punishment provision to ensure that victims are protected. In this report, the SR wrote, “The duty of non-punishment applies to detention as well: as the OSCE Recommendations point out, victims should be “immune not only from punishment but also from prosecution and detention” or, at least, such prosecution and detention should be terminated as soon as the situation is identified as a trafficking one. … The SR is of the view that persons who are presumed or identified as trafficking victims must be removed from detention as soon as possible and granted appropriate assistance and protection in specialised facilities.”

This expert meeting was part of a larger consultation convened by the SR to inform her report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2021. The purpose of this report is to identify the core human rights obligations of states, and to examine how forms of punishment such as deprivation of citizenship, detention, forced returns, as well as administrative and criminal sanctions, impact upon the human rights of victims / survivors of trafficking. The report will also highlight emerging trends, as well as good practices in implementation of the non-punishment principle.

As part of the consultation process, the SR has invited interested individuals and organisations, including experts and organisations affected, policymakers, practitioners and academics, to provide input for the preparation of the report by 14 February 2021. More information about the consultation process is available here.