Abstract: The imperative to counter human trafficking, as reflected in the Modern Slavery Act 2015, is invariably presented as responding to the prohibition on slavery. Accordingly, the growing body of case law from the European Court of Human Rights involving “modern day slavery” focuses on art.4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This has been interpreted in accordance with other relevant standards such as the Palermo Protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention. However, when material arising from the core human rights treaties of the United Nation is considered, including that from the Committee sitting under the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD), it becomes apparent that a wide variety of other human rights are implicated. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of the comments made by the CRPD Committee, along with material emanating from the other UN Treaty Bodies. It provides a useful framework to assess state action against trafficking, which must reflect these other features, most clearly that it is abusive and exploitative and so inhuman and degrading, and often involves victims who are subject to discrimination, including on intersectional grounds. It illustrates why advocates for victims should not limit themselves to slavery-based arguments.
Keywords: human trafficking; modern-day slavery; fundamental rights; UN Human Rights Standards; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
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