Research led by a U.S. trafficking group stated that arresting survivors of human trafficking for their testimony in criminal prosecutions creates more trauma (REUTERS). According to The Human Trafficking Legal Center (HTLC), witnesses who do not want to testify can be detained (REUTERS). Victims who are detained risk losing custody of their children, jobs and services needed for recovery (VOA). Those detained are used as material witnesses to aid in the prosecution of their traffickers.
It is difficult to know the number of trafficking survivors held under material witness warrants because such warrants are usually used in secret, said HTLC (REUTERS). The HTLC examined 49 cases of victim arrests claiming that the system makes criminal justice a priority over victims’ needs and wants (TIM). Concern over the spread of coronavirus through crowded jails provides more reason for the release of trafficking victims (TIM).