This paper seeks to provide an analytical framework for designing more effective laws against human trafficking. The United Kingdom will be used as a case study to identify specific changes to the sentencing provisions of anti-trafficking legislation that must be made in order to achieve a more effective response to human trafficking and other forms of slavery in the world today. First, economic penalties for human trafficking offences must be elevated to a level that effectively inverts the high profit, low risk business profile that fuels demand among offenders to acquire and exploit trafficked slaves. Second, trafficking laws should be enforced with more proactive and well-resourced law enforcement investigations and interventions. Third, elevated human rights protections for survivors must be achieved, particularly as relates to pursuing prosecution of offenders. The European Court of Human Rights’ decision in on January 7, 2010 heightened the importance of these measures. The case established, , that human trafficking is a violation of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and that Member States are required to meet certain positive and procedural obligations to provide effective mechanisms to protect individuals against human trafficking, investigate such crimes, and prosecute and punish the offenders.
This paper commences with a discussion of the case, followed by a brief outline of the general nature and purpose of criminal punishment, with a focus on the importance of deterrent and retributive aspects of penalizing crimes such as human trafficking. The evolution of jurisprudence in the United Kingdom on human trafficking crimes is examined next, followed by an explanation of how economic analysis and the author’s concept of ‘Exploitation Value’ in particular can guide this evolution towards the design of more effective anti-trafficking laws. Finally, specific recommendations on how to design such laws, as well as discussion of the roles of law enforcement and survivor protection in combating human trafficking, will be provided.