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TrustLaw Litigation Hub for Trafficking & Modern Slavery

TrustLaw Litigation for Trafficking

At Trust Women, the Thomson Reuters Foundation and HT Pro Bono announced a partnership to create the TrustLaw Litigation Hub for Trafficking and Modern Slavery.
The Hub will use civil litigation strategies to secure compensation and access to justice for survivors, hold perpetrators to account, provide meaningful deterrence to traffickers, and strengthen relevant laws. The Hub will include/facilitate:

* An online platform, bringing together a global network of anti-trafficking lawyers, specialist NGOs, and pro bono lawyers. The Hub will provide them with the tools they need to connect, make referrals and share expertise

* Awareness raising and training of local anti-trafficking NGOs and lawyers in target countries to help build a pipeline of cases and facilitate connection with lawyers who can provide rapid support.

Awareness raising and training will begin in Thailand and the wider Southeast Asia region, with the aim of expanding to India in the second year of the project. As the Thomson Reuters Foundation and its partners refine the capacities and functionalities of the Hub, suggestions are welcome.


A hub bringing together lawyers and NGOs in the fight for justice by enabling advocates to share best practices in anti-trafficking litigation.

The Problem

Human trafficking, a modern form of slavery, is a global human rights scourge of extraordinary proportions. According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 20.9 million people are trafficked for labour and sexual exploitation worldwide.

Only a tiny fraction of traffickers are held criminally accountable. Although the ILO estimates that 16.4 million of these 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour exploitation, the US Department of State identified just 418 prosecutions in the entire world for labour trafficking and servitude in 2014.  Clearly, prosecution alone will not be enough to end forced labour and modern slavery.

Victims of trafficking suffer unspeakable abuses. They need remedies. And to obtain remedies, these victims need lawyers.

Specialised lawyers can help trafficking victims obtain immigration relief, secure access to public services, defend themselves against wrongful prosecution, win criminal restitution from their traffickers, and seek justice through the civil courts. Some courageous trafficking survivors may wish to sue for financial compensation from their traffickers. But they cannot do this alone.

The Action

The Thomson Reuters Foundation and HT Pro Bono will partner to create TrustLaw Litigation for Trafficking, bringing together lawyers and NGOs in the fight for justice. The Trafficking Litigation Hub will allow advocates to share best practices in anti-trafficking litigation. This cross-border platform will encourage the use of innovative litigation strategies to fight modern-day slavery around the world. It will increase victims’ access to sophisticated counsel. And it will increase the chance that trafficking victims can recover financial compensation. Seizure of traffickers’ proceeds of crime – even in civil cases – offers another benefit: deterrence.

The Hub will provide an international platform for:

  • NGOs working with victims of trafficking to connect with specialist lawyers to seek legal support;
  • Specialist lawyers to share knowledge, strategies and expertise in trafficking litigation; and
  • NGOs and advocates to seek pro bono support from commercial firms in appropriate cases.

The initial phase of the Action will be a consultation with lawyers and NGOs working in this field to explore the different approaches required in different jurisdictions. The Hub will launch in key jurisdictions in partnership with advocates on the ground.  This referral and information-sharing network will then expand geographically once these pilots are successfully established.

What help is needed?

We want to hear from:

  • Donors supporting the fight against human trafficking: are you interested in providing start-up funding for the Trafficking Litigation Hub?
  • NGOs working with victims of trafficking and modern slavery: how best could an online platform to connect with lawyers help you and those you support?
  • Specialist legal practitioners advising and representing victims of trafficking and modern slavery: how best could an online connection platform support your practice?
  • Commercial law firms with an interest in providing pro bono support: what relevant experience do you have? What sort of work would you be prepared to do on a pro bono basis? In which jurisdictions? What training or other support would you need?
  • Experts and advocates working to combat human trafficking: what are the key cases in your jurisdiction? Which cases should be shared internationally to illustrate best practices?  What are your litigation success stories?

Can you support this action?

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