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Evidential issues in trafficking cases: UN Office on Drugs and Crime


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Looks very interesting and potentially useful for evidence-based judging of these complex cases. With thanks to colleague Louise Hooper for flagging it up.

The Case Digest has analysed 135 cases from 31 jurisdictions. It benefited from the input from experts from all parts of the globe.

Trafficking in persons is a victim-centred crime, complex by its nature and requiring a constellation of circumstances in order to establish it. As a result, such cases present particularly complex evidential issues, many of which hinge upon the particular nature of this covert crime and the behaviour of victims, whose testimony is often the central piece of evidence. The Case Digest aims to serve to deepen an understanding of the issues it discusses. It is also hoped that criminal law and other practitioners may be able to learn from the actual cases which are presented, both by understanding that they are not alone in facing certain patterns and issues, and by deriving assistance from the tools that courts worldwide have developed.

In the same vein, the Case Digest tries to alert practitioners that patterns which at first glance may appear to be weaknesses in the case, may actually strengthen it. For example, the fact that a victim does not flee when given an opportunity to do so, seems, at first glance, to be a weakness in the case, but may in fact be a strength in that it may point to the high level of control exerted by the trafficker; inconsistencies in a victim’s testimony may seem such as a weakness in the case, but may actually be a strength, in establishing that the victim has not been coached, but is making a genuine statement; a threat that may seem, on the face of it, to be irrational and too fantastic to believe, may be a particularly menacing threat in the cultural context and subjective world of the victim. The essential lesson is that, in building a trafficking case, one must examine the totality of the circumstances in order to gauge the significance of any one piece of evidence.

Source: UNODC Case Digest: Evidential Issues in Trafficking in Persons Cases 2017

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.