Universal Jurisdiction to Prosecute Human Trafficking: Analyzing the Practical Impact of a Jurisdictional Change in Federal Law

Universal Jurisdiction to Prosecute Human Trafficking: Analyzing the Practical Impact of a Jurisdictional Change in Federal Law

By John Reynolds

University of California, Hastings College of the Law, Class of 2011. The author would like to thank his family, friends, and colleagues for their support. This note is dedicated to the victims of human trafficking.

Excerpt 34 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 387


I. Introduction
 
Recent estimates suppose that between 12 million and 27 million people are held in modern-day slavery worldwide. 1 Human trafficking, considered by the United States Congress as "a contemporary manifestation of slavery," 2 victimizes as many as 700,000 people each year, including tens of thousands of people trafficked in the United States. 3 This modern-day slave trade occurs both within and across national borders. According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "the United States is committed to building partnerships with governments and organizations around the world, to finding new and more effective ways to take on the scourge of human trafficking." 4 Against a backdrop of increasing awareness about the problem of human trafficking, Congress amended the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to grant U.S. authorities universal jurisdiction to prosecute the crime of trafficking. 5 The jurisdiction granted by Congress will allow prosecution of traffickers present in the U.S. regardless of where the offense was committed. 6

While the U.S. government has pledged to combat human trafficking with prosecution of traffickers, prevention of the crime, and protection of victims, the traffic in persons persists, with millions of people continuing to live in forced labor conditions. 7 Trafficking in persons is a lucrative trade, especially for criminal organizations, with estimated profits of $ 44 billion every year. 8 Traffickers use deceit and force to trick and coerce victims into forced labor. 9 Victims who are trafficked to foreign countries often do not seek ...

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