Victim Identification part 2

In smaller bite size portions.. 

Early last week, on June 19th, the U.S. Department of State released the Trafficking in Persons Report of 2013. The purpose of this annual report is to present what is essentially a grading system on how well various governments are approaching the crime of Human Trafficking and the difficulties that come with victim identification and service provision. In response to this report’s release, The Gray Haven Project interns have taken it upon themselves to present a summary and personal reflection on various sections from this report. We know that this report is extremely lengthy and that not many people will actually read the report, so we broke it down into smaller sections in an effort to make it a little more palatable for you..

If you would like to read the entire report or watch the introduction by Secretary of State John Kerry it can be found here: 

Without further ado, let's begin.. 


Another concern is that offering a package of protection and assistance to victims of trafficking will promote fraudulent claims that will overwhelm government resources. However, rather than leading to fraudulent claims, a robust system of victim pro

tection and immigration benefits appears to bring trafficking victims out of the shadows and improve law enforcement outcomes.

Effective Victim ID in Practice: the Victim-Centered Approach

The challenge beyond anti-trafficking laws, protocols and procedures is how to make victim identification successful in practice and using a victim-centered approach. Placing the victim at the center of the prosecution means considering the rights, needs, and requests of the person who has been trafficked before, during, and after an investigation and prosecution.

In practice, this approach gains the trust and cooperation of the victim. It begins when a victim is identified and continues through initial steps to establish physical safety and meet the victim’s immediate needs. The victim-centered approach helps prevent secondary victimization that can occur when individuals or agencies do not treat the victim with appropriate sensitivity or, even worse, behave in a heavy-handed manner that resembles the way they were treated by traffickers, risking re-traumatization.

Interviewing Victims

Victims who are rescued in a police raid- even in a raid that is carried out well- often suffer from shock and confusion. Trauma may impair their ability to process information and make choices.  Traffickers often coach their victims for months prior to lie to the authorities, or to convince them that police will arrest them for breaking immigration, prostitution, or labor laws. To victims, a rescue and a raid may actually look like what their traffickers have taught them to expect and their fears combined with the shock of a law enforcement intervention may well lead victims to provide false or misleading information in hopes that by so doing, they are protecting themselves or their families.

Effective practices for establishing rapport and conducting interviews with people who may have been victims of human trafficking include ensuring that the victim feels safe. This includes interviewing in a safe, private and comfortable place and allowing the victim sufficient time to recover from physical, sexual, and psychological injuries. Further, it is important to protect the victim from any threat of deportation or criminal sentence. An interviewer should interview in the victim’s native tongue, using an interpreter if needed, and dress in civilian clothes. It is vital the interviewer work to build trust with the victim. Trust can be built by an upfront interviewer who discloses all expectations of the victim before the interview, active listening techniques, a caring, non-judgmental tone, and ample time for the victim to respond to questions.

Looking forward

Victim identification is just the first step in a long process of survivor protection. An effective government response must follow through by helping survivors restore the lives they choose. Holistic aftercare is key to the full recovery of a victim. This can include ensuring the victim’s safety, housing and legal assistance, counseling, substance abuse rehabilitation, healthcare, and life skills training. However, each victim’s needs are different, making flexible, individualized aftercare programs necessary for case management to be effective.

At the same time, the need for further innovation is clear. In the years ahead, governments and their partners should therefore keep doing what works, but also dedicate themselves to developing and supporting new approaches and practices that will help shine a brighter light on this phenomenon.

In case you missed it, here is Part 1...