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This checklist represents a non-exhaustive collection of effective victim protection practices compiled by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons from a variety of sources, including NGOs and foreign governments. The suggestions listed may not be feasible or appropriate in all situations, but represent practices that governments may consider in developing victim protection strategies.


  • Develop and implement standard operating procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. These standard operating procedures should include indicators of human trafficking tailored to local circumstances.
  • Train government personnel, particularly first responders and those in the immigration, labor, child welfare, and law enforcement sectors, to identify and refer victims to the appropriate services.
  • Implement victim identification training for health care workers, attorneys, social workers, teachers, workplace inspectors, child welfare advocates, religious leaders, and other professionals likely to encounter victims of human trafficking.
  • Conduct targeted public awareness campaigns that are culturally and linguistically appropriate within communities, industries, and areas at risk of human trafficking.
  • Conduct screenings for potential trafficking victims among those incarcerated or held in immigration detention centers, as victims may be arrested or detained by law enforcement for crimes committed as a result of their trafficking situation.
  • Adopt programs to screen vulnerable immigrant populations, including asylum seekers and unaccompanied children, at the border and at sea for indicators of human trafficking.
  • Inform citizen and noncitizen workers of their rights relevant to the workplace and of other rights to facilitate the self-reporting of labor violations and exploitation, including human trafficking.
  • Establish and publicize a national hotline with relevant language options to facilitate referrals to law enforcement and service providers for victims of trafficking.
  • Ensure appropriate interpretation skills are available among first responders and officials screening potential victims for trafficking indicators.
  • Monitor private sector industries with a high risk of labor exploitation, including human trafficking.
  • Take measures to protect the identity of victims in press statements and other public documents, including allowing victims to decide whether to disclose identifying information.

Legal proceedings

  • Keep trafficking victims’ identities and information confidential in legal proceedings, to the extent consistent with domestic law.
  • Enable victim testimony to be presented in the least traumatizing manner during criminal proceedings against their traffickers, consistent with domestic law.
  • Train law enforcement personnel on victim rights and protections so that they treat such persons as victims, rather than penalize them for unlawful acts they committed as a direct result of their trafficking.
  • Enact laws that allow both adult and child trafficking victims to seek court orders vacating or expunging criminal convictions entered against them for a wide variety of nonviolent crimes they were forced to commit.
  • Create law enforcement protocols that mandate appropriate protection for and treatment of trafficking victims.
  • Enact laws that permit trafficking victims to seek legal recourse against their traffickers and financial restitution for their loss and trauma.
  • Provide victims with information about their rights and any relevant legal proceedings in a language they understand.
  • Take appropriate and feasible measures to protect trafficking victims and their family members from intimidation and retaliation from traffickers.
  • Provide access to services and support to victims during legal proceedings to help ease the burden of cooperation.


  • Make appropriate services available to victims, including medical care; emergency and transitional housing in addition to longer-term housing assistance; mental health counseling; substance abuse treatment; food aid; clothing assistance; educational and vocational training and placement; family location and reunification; translation and interpretation; advocacy in the criminal justice system; spiritual support; criminal, civil, and immigration legal assistance; safety planning; repatriation; and assistance in finding and accessing these many services.
  • Ensure shelter and services are appropriate for victims’ age, gender, and special needs.
  • Permit victims to decide whether to accept shelter and services.
  • Fund experienced NGOs to provide shelter and services.
  • Create victim assistance information about available services, and distribute at appropriate locations.

Durable solutions

  • Make available to trafficking victims temporary immigration status coupled with work authorization to provide stability, including during participation in an investigation or prosecution.
  • Facilitate the voluntary, safe repatriation of trafficking victims who desire it.
  • Fund reintegration services for returning victims.
  • Explore third-country resettlement if return to the country of origin would not be safe and may include hardship, retribution, or re-exploitation.
  • Make available the option of immigration status as a long-term solution when return would not be safe or could include hardship, retribution, or re-exploitation.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future