International and Domestic Protocols

International norms can influence the responsibility of national governments to provide health care assistance to human trafficking victims. The way in which a population views the issue of human trafficking often dictates the focus of legislation developed to address the issue. One international law that requires the governments of ratifying countries to provide victims of human trafficking with health care services is The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Article 6 of the Protocol has provisions that require the ratifying countries to provide access to healthcare and psychological treatment.


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In addition, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides people the right to a standard of living that promotes healthy lifestyles, to include healthcare services. Another international document that has provisions on access to healthcare services is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which obliges participating countries to “recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” and to undertake necessary steps for these obligations to be realized. Despite the existence of international and national legislation that provide victims of human trafficking with the rights to healthcare services, the successful implementation of said legislation depends on the performance of national govern ments, law enforcement, and public health agencies working together to identify the victims.