Modern-Day Slavery Laws

Trafficking Victims Protection Re-authorization Act (TVPRA)

Hearing in Senate Judiciary Committe on TVPRA

California Transparency Act

UN Palermo Protocol

National Security Presidential Directive 22  – Combating Trafficking in Persons Zero Tolerance Policy

United States Code – Title 18, Chapter 77

Human trafficking crimes are defined in Title 18, Chapter 77 of the United States Code.   Title 18 of the United States Code Chapter 77 provides the bases for criminal actions for peonage; involuntary servitude; forced labor; trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor; and sex trafficking of children.

U.S. Government’s anti-human trafficking statutes include:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 1581 (Peonage)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1584 (Involuntary Servitude)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1589 (Forced Labor)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1590 (Trafficking with Respect to Peonage, Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, or Forced Labor)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1591 (Sex Trafficking of Children or by Force, Fraud, or Coercion)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1592 (Unlawful Conduct with Respect to Documents in Furtherance of Trafficking, Peonage, Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, or Forced Labor)

Section 1581 makes it unlawful to hold a person in “debt servitude,” or peonage.  Section 1581 prohibits a person from using force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion to compel a person to work against his/her will.

Section 1584 makes it unlawful to hold a person in a condition of slavery, that is, a condition of compulsory service or labor against his/her will.  It is illegal to hold one against his/her will by actual force, threats of force, or threats of legal coercion.  Section 1584 also prohibits forcing a person to work against his/her will by creating a “climate of fear” through the use of force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion.

Section 1589 makes it unlawful to provide or obtain the labor or services of a person through prohibited means of coercion.  Section 1589 broadens the definition of the kinds of coercion that might result in forced labor including force, threats of force, physical restraint against any person; serious harm or threats of serious harm to any person; abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process; or any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause fear or serious harm to any person.

Section 1590 makes it unlawful to recruit, harbor, transport, or broker persons for labor or services under conditions which violate any of the offenses contained in Chapter 77 of Title 18.

Section 1591 criminalizes sex trafficking, which is defined as causing a person to engage in a commercial sex act under certain statutorily enumerated conditions.

Section 1592 makes it illegal to seize documents such as passports in order to force others to work.  By expanding its coverage to false documents as well as official documents, Section 1592 recognizes that victims are often immobilized by the seizing of event false of forged documents.

United States Code – Title 22, Sections 7101-7112

Title 22 of the U.S. Code, Sections 7101-7112 contain numerous provisions with the goal of combatting trafficking in persons to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers and to protect their victims.  Relevant sections provide for an interagency task force to monitor and combat trafficking; solutions to prevent trafficking; protection and assistance for victims of trafficking; increasing effectiveness of anti-trafficking programs; minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; actions against governments’ failing to meet minimum standards; actions against significant traffickers in persons; strengthening prosecution and punishment of traffickers; and research on domestic and international trafficking in persons.  Importantly, Section 7102 defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as (A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or (B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

In addition to the U.S. Government’s proclamation and criminal statutes against human trafficking and slavery, the U.S. Government has a “zero tolerance” policy regarding contractors, subcontractors, or their employees who engage in or support trafficking in persons, procurement of sex acts, or use of forced labor.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) Subpart 22.17

FAR 22.17 implements the United States Government “zero tolerance” policy regarding trafficking in persons.

FAR 22.17 implements the United States Government “zero tolerance” policy regarding trafficking in persons.  The regulation specifically prohibits contractors, subcontractors, and their employees from engaging in severe forms of trafficking in persons, procuring commercial sex acts, and using forced labor during the period of performance of a government contract within or outside of the United States.

FAR 22.17 specifically states that U.S. government contracts shall prohibit contractors, subcontractors, and their employees from engaging in severe forms of trafficking in persons, procuring commercial sex acts, and using forced labor during the period of performance of a government contract within or outside of the United States.

Under FAR 22.17, U.S. government contracts shall require contractors and subcontractors to notify employees of the prohibited activities and the actions that may be taken against them for violations of this regulation as well as impose suitable remedies, including termination, on contractors that fail to comply with FAR 22.17.

FAR 22.17 mandates that all government contractors police or at least discipline their employees’ and subcontractors’ behavior outside of the workplace.  The regulation requires contractors to discipline or terminate any employee found to have: (1) engaged in a “severe form of trafficking”; (2) procured a commercial sex act; or (3) used forced labor in the performance of the contract.

FAR 22.17 further requires contractors learning of allegations from any source to report the violation to the Contracting Officer.  Failure to comply can trigger a host of consequences, including termination for default, suspension of contract payments, loss of award fee and debarment.  The regulation applies or flows down to all subcontractors.

Specifically, if the Contracting Officer determines that adequate evidence exists regarding any violations of FAR 22.17, the Contracting Officer may pursue remedies such as (1) requiring the contractor to remove a contractor employee or employees from the performance of the contract; (2) requiring the contractor to terminate a subcontract; (3) suspension of contract payments; (4) loss of award fee, consistent with the award fee plan, for the performance period in which the U.S. Government determined contractor’s non-compliance; (5) termination of the contract for default or cause, in accordance with the termination clause of this contract; or (6) suspension or debarment.

Under FAR 22.17, the Contracting Officer may consider whether the government contractor has a Trafficking in Persons awareness program at the time of the violation as a mitigating factor when determining remedies.