Human trafficking or trafficking in persons (TIP) can take many forms, but it represents serious and complex crimes. Investigating and prosecuting TIP offenses, as well as providing services to survivors, requires a multisector response, which may include professionals across civil society and the government that provide an array of survivor services. Coordinating across different sectors and professions presents challenges, yet it is crucial if a country’s TIP response is to be effective. In late 2021 and early 2022, under its Building a National and International TIP Response Program, ABA ROLI in Jordan hosted a series of workshops that created space for a variety of TIP responders to come together, share information and experiences, and simulate investigations based on real cases.
Led by His Excellency the Attorney General Dr. Hasan Abdallat and Judge Ali Al-Musaimi, these simulated investigations helped to increase knowledge of TIP law, develop survivor-centered service provision skills, and strengthen linkages among 102 judges, prosecutors, police officers, labor inspectors, shelter staff, and ministry representatives. Participants took advantage of having access to specialized TIP judges and investigators, asking detailed questions about how to meet the standard of proof in TIP cases, how to approach international cooperation, and best practice in gathering admissible digital evidence. The workshops provided an important space for multisectoral learning, with each group bringing a different perspective and new ideas to overcoming some of the challenges faced by TIP responders.
Across each of the workshops, Judge Al-Musaimi emphasized the importance of adopting survivor-centered approaches–or to prioritize the rights, needs, and wishes of survivors–in investigations and prosecutions. Survivor-centered and trauma-informed approaches understand that traumatic experiences, such as trafficking, can affect the memories of people who have endured trauma, and they offer ways to more reliably gather evidence from witnesses and survivors while minimizing risks of re-traumatizing people who come forward.
Judge Al-Musaimi demonstrated the merit of survivor-centered investigatory approaches, against the backdrop of traditional investigatory limitations, with real-life examples and vignettes. One recent example included an investigation in which a survivor requested to speak to her Embassy, which was denied by the prosecutor on the case. Had this request been granted, it would have helped build trust between the survivor and the investigating team and would have overcome language barriers to help gather evidence and build the case against the perpetrator. Ultimately, it is in States’ best interests to conduct survivor-centered and trauma-informed investigations to both improve the veracity of evidence gathered but also survivors’ trust in and willingness to avail themselves to the justice system.
Over the next year, ABA ROLI and the Building a National and International TIP Response Program will continue to work with a wide range of state and non-state actors to support prevention, protection, and prosecution efforts in Jordan.