Principles of a Human Rights Approach for Working with Trafficked Persons

Human trafficking is a gross violation of fundamental human rights such as the right to life, liberty, and security of person, and the right to freedom from slavery and degrading treatment or punishment. A human rights approach recognizes that human trafficking is a violation of rights and views the trafficked person as someone in need of protection and services rather than as a criminal.

The following principles will help you apply a human rights approach when making referrals and providing services to trafficked persons:

  • Be Safe — Ensure privacy and confidentiality and offer trafficked persons safe options for exiting their situation and accessing services.
  • Do No Harm — Treat each interaction with a trafficked person with extreme care. Do not undertake actions that could make the person’s situation worse.
  • Give Back Control and Obtain Consent — Provide care and support to assist trafficked persons to regain control of their lives, promoting their ability to make informed decisions for themselves.
  • Consider the Whole Person — Treat trafficked persons with dignity and respect.
  • Provide Culturally Competent Services — Consider the role of cultural differences in your work with trafficked persons.
  • Be Patient — Recognize that healing and recovery is a long process and that trafficked persons benefit from patience and a continuum of support.
  • Offer Options to Seek Justice — If trafficked persons wish to work with police, provide information and options to do so.

The following music video, Break the Silence, is inspired by the story of Timea Nagy, a survivor of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Canada. Timea sings back-up vocals:

Break the Silence

(Video runtime 03:59)

(Transcript for the Break the Silence video.)


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