Call for Papers: Anti-Trafficking Review on Prosecuting Human Trafficking; Submit by July 15

Deadline for Submission: 15 July 2015

The Anti-Trafficking Review calls for papers for a themed issue entitled ‘Prosecuting Human Trafficking’.

International law requires States to prosecute trafficking in persons effectively and fairly. Along with prevention and protection, prosecution widely is seen as one of the main pillars of an effective national response to trafficking.

For example, in the annual Trafficking in Persons report, the US Government considers: ‘whether the government vigorously investigates, prosecutes, and punishes trafficking’ to be a key indicator in assessing and ranking countries.

But worldwide, the number of prosecutions for trafficking remains stubbornly low – especially when compared to the generally accepted size of the problem. Very few traffickers are ever brought to justice and the criminal justice system rarely operates to benefit those who have been trafficked.

Government officials, criminal justice practitioners and others working in the anti-trafficking field assert that ending the current high levels of impunity enjoyed by traffickers, and securing justice for those who have been trafficked, requires vigorous prosecution of trafficking crimes.

However some have pointed out that pressures to prosecute, particularly when placed on underdeveloped criminal justice systems, have led to poor quality prosecutions that target lower level offenders; unfair and unsafe prosecutions that do not respect basic criminal justice standards; and disproportionate and politically motivated targeting of certain sectors including the sex industry.

The emphasis on prosecutions has also been identified as contributing to violations of the rights of persons who have been trafficked – for example through laws and policies that compel cooperation with criminal justice agencies or make assistance conditional on such cooperation.

More generally, concerns have been expressed that the focus on prosecutions has been at the expense of attention to victims’ rights including their right to protection, support and remedies.

This issue will seek to address the hard questions, and authors may be interested in addressing the following:

1. Are prosecutions really an appropriate measure of an effective anti-trafficking response? What other indicators might be more appropriate?

2. Why are there so few prosecutions, and even fewer convictions, for trafficking? What are the features of this crime that complicate prosecutions? Can anything be done about this?

3. How does the prioritisation of prosecutions (for example, over protection and prevention) frame our understanding of what trafficking actually is; why it happens; and what the solutions could or should be? What is the effect of this framing?

4. What are the consequences of anti-trafficking’s emphasis on prosecutions in contexts of increased border security, criminalisation of migration, and imprisonment more generally?

5. How can we ensure trafficked persons are not prosecuted for status offenses?

6. What does (or should) a ‘good’ prosecution for trafficking actually look like?

7. What kinds of cases are actually being prosecuted as ‘trafficking’? What does this tell us about how the concept of trafficking is being understood and applied?

8. Can prosecutions ever deliver a genuinely positive result for trafficked persons? What needs to change for this to happen

9. What do trafficked persons think (including in relation to their experiences in and outside the criminal justice system) about what works and what does not?

The Debate Section of this issue will invite authors to defend or reject the following proposition: ‘Prosecuting trafficking deflects attention from much more important responses and is anyway a waste of time and money’.

The Review promotes a human rights based approach to anti-trafficking, exploring anti-trafficking in a broader context including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights.

Call for Papers

Academics, practitioners, trafficked persons and advocates are invited to submit articles. Contributions from those living and working in developing countries are particularly welcome.

The journal is a freely available, open access publication with a readership in over 100 countries.

The Anti-Trafficking Review is abstracted/indexed/ tracked in: ProQuest, Ebsco Host, Ulrich’s, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Directory of Open Access Journals, WorldCat, Google Scholar and CrossRef.

Deadline for submission: 15 July 2015

Word count for Full Article submissions: 4,000 – 6,000 words, including footnotes, author bio and abstract.

Word count for Debate submissions: 800 – 1000 words, including footnotes and author bio.

Special Issue to be published in Spring 2016.

We advise those interested in submitting to follow the Review’s style guide and submission procedures HERE.

Manuscripts should be submitted in line with the issue’s theme.

Email the editorial team at

The Official Call can be downloaded HERE.

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