The Center for the Human Rights of Children (CHRC), in collaboration with signatory organizations, submits this input in response to the call for submissions made by the Special Rapporteur’s Report on the Role of Organized Criminal Groups with regard to Contemporary Forms of Slavery to inform the forthcoming report to the 76th session of the General Assembly. This input will focus upon the role of organized criminal groups with regard to child labor trafficking (forced labor), and specifically, forced criminality as a form of forced labor.1 We provide input on cases both in the interior of the United States, and also regionally along the migrant corridor between Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador), Mexico, and the United States Southern border, one of the busiest migrant corridors in the world. In this submission, we address issues involving both US citizen victims as well as migrant children. The United States anti-trafficking legislation, or the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and its subsequent reauthorizations (TVPRA), address contemporary forms of slavery under the Palermo Protocol and UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, including crimes of forced labor and involuntary servitude. Thus, we use the terms “contemporary forms of slavery,” “labor trafficking” and “forced labor” interchangeably throughout this input.2
Children are uniquely vulnerable, due to their age, development, and dependence on adults for their safety and well-being. Despite this vulnerability, child trafficking victims in the U.S. are often treated in the same manner as adults, without any additional protections in place to account for their unique needs. The lack of child-appropriate protection is particularly problematic for child victims of labor trafficking, especially forced criminality. Forced criminality generally involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel children to commit criminal activities including (but not limited to) drug smuggling, drug production, benefit fraud, theft, begging, prostitution, and other criminal acts.3 Children in the US, both migrant children and US citizens, boys and girls, who are victims of forced criminality are treated inconsistently by the US legal system, with some offered protection as victims of crime (e.g., child prostitution), and others treated as perpetrators of crime (e.g., children forced to smuggle drugs across the border). Perpetrators of child labor trafficking and forced criminality in the US and throughout the region are often organized criminal groups, as defined by the UN.4
This report addresses key questions regarding organized criminal groups and contemporary forms of modern slavery. The input focuses on 1) providing evidence of organized criminal groups and the nature and extent to which they are involved in child trafficking and forced criminality, both domestically and internationally, 2) the US legislative framework regarding forced labor and forced criminality, and 3) the challenges child victims’ advocates face in obtaining protections for both migrants and citizens.
Frazier, Peggy and Kaufka Walts, Katherine JD, "Input to SR on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Including its Causes and Consequences Regarding the Role of Organized Criminal Groups" (2021). Center for the Human Rights of Children. 20.
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