Law Clinic Urges Support for Victims of Sex Trafficking

Columbia Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Urges
European Court of
Human Rights to Recognize
Link between Slavery and Sex Trafficking
Press Contact: Erin Kelly, 212-854-1787, [email protected]
Public Affairs Office, 212-854-2650

October 9, 2008 (NEW YORK) – The Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic urged the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to recognize states’ obligations to sex trafficking victims in a Third Party Intervention filed on Friday, October 3. The Court granted the Clinic intervener status in M. v. United Kingdom, a case brought by a young woman who was sex trafficked to the United Kingdom and subsequently denied asylum there.

The intervention, similar to an amicus brief, argues that state parties to the European Convention on Human Rights must, under the Convention’s anti-slavery provision, consider providing residency to sex trafficking victims who are trafficked into their territory. The submission shows that sex trafficking and slavery are fundamentally linked human rights violations, an argument widely accepted internationally.

“Sex trafficking and slavery both involve severe human exploitation,” said Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, Director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. “Much of the world—including global and domestic institutions—already recognizes this link. We look forward to the ECHR recognizing the slavery-trafficking link as well,” she added.

“Sex trafficking victims are often at risk of being re-trafficked if returned to their home country,” noted Clinic student Abram Seaman. “This intervention demonstrates that countries have an obligation to protect and assist these extremely vulnerable individuals.” Fellow Clinic student Bradley Mullins stated, “Sex trafficking is a terrible form of modern-day slavery, and countries need to recognize the duties they have to the victims of this abhorrent practice.” Clinic student Jennifer Ryan agreed, adding, “We hope that our intervention will strengthen the young woman’s claim for asylum in the United Kingdom.”

The Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic collaborated with the Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE) Centre, which represents the victim in this case. Second-year Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic students Bradley Mullins and Abram Seaman and LL.M. student Jennifer Ryan wrote the intervention, together with Professor Goldberg.

To contact Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg: call (212) 854- 0411 or email [email protected].
To contact the students, email:
Bradley Mullins: [email protected], Jennifer Ryan: [email protected], Abram Seaman: [email protected].

Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic was founded in September 2006 by Professor Suzanne Goldberg. Students work on a broad variety of projects related to gender equality and LGBTQ rights. For more information, please visit the Clinic website at

Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.