The 3Ps: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution

Fact Sheet
June 27, 2011


The “3P” paradigm – prevention, protection, and prosecution – continues to serve as the fundamental framework used by governments around the world to combat human trafficking. The United States also follows this approach, reflected in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) and the United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons employs diplomatic, economic, political, legal, and cultural tools to advance the “3P” paradigm worldwide. Announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2009, the “fourth P”– partnership – serves as a pathway to achieve progress on the 3Ps in the effort against modern slavery.


Prevention efforts are a key component of the global movement to monitor and combat human trafficking. Historically, efforts focused on public awareness campaigns that inform and educate communities in source and destination countries about human trafficking so that they can identify victims or specifically warn migrants and other vulnerable populations.

Today, however, prevention encapsulates cross-cutting endeavors that include rectifying laws that omit classes of workers from labor law protection; providing robust labor law enforcement, particularly in key sectors where trafficking is most typically found; implementing measures that address significant vulnerabilities such as birth registration and identification; carefully constructing labor recruitment programs that ensure protection of workers from exploitation; strengthening partnerships between law enforcement, government, and nongovernmental organizations to collaborate, coordinate, and communicate more effectively; emphasizing effective policy implementation with stronger enforcement, better reporting, and government-endorsed business standards; and tackling this global crime at its root causes by monitoring product supply chains and reducing demand for commercial sex.

Additionally, recent innovations in private-sector engagement on trafficking in persons hold promising potential in advancing prevention efforts. A new push for corporate accountability calls on companies to focus their attention on the sources of their human capital and recruitment methods tied to supply chains. Supply chain monitoring that traces products all the way to where raw materials are harvested, collected, or mined can reveal at what point the demand for cheap goods and labor translates to the exploitation of workers. By adopting responsible practices, such as those included in the UN Luxor Guidelines, private-sector actors can help prevent labor trafficking by curbing the demand that incentivizes traffickers and fraudulent labor recruiters.

In addition to partnering with and funding the efforts of nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) around the world, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons works to prevent incidences of human trafficking through the diagnostic analysis of the Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The Report assesses prevention policies and efforts of countries around the world against the TVPA-mandated minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons.

The effort to prevent human trafficking is closely intertwined with protection and prosecution measures. Effective law enforcement and protection practices are essential to ensuring stronger prevention policies, which can deter the occurrence of human trafficking.


Protection is key to the victim-centered approach the United States and the international community pursues in efforts to combat modern slavery. Effective victim protection efforts include the “3Rs” – rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration.

Identifying victims is a critical first step in ensuring they can receive the support and resources they need. Proactive identification efforts and training for first responders are of paramount importance to a government’s ability to combat human trafficking. After identification, governments should make the rights and needs of victims a priority to ensure that protection efforts restore a survivor’s dignity and provide an opportunity for a safe and productive life. The Office’s International Programs section works to build the capacity of governments and NGOs to enhance victim protection in scores of countries worldwide.

To effectively implement the “3Rs,” governments need to enable identified trafficking victims to remain in the country, work, and obtain services without fear of detention or deportation for lack of legal status or crimes that the trafficker made them commit. In addition, governments should ease the process for victims to obtain proof of citizenship or to secure immigration relief. Safeguards should be put in place to ensure the protection of survivors, as well as their family members who may be in harm’s way.

Adequate victim protection relies on effective partnerships between law enforcement and service providers, not only immediately after rescue, but also as they work to facilitate participation in criminal justice and civil proceedings.

Rehabilitation efforts help provide emergency assistance and services; effective placement in stable, long-term situations; and access to educational, vocational and economic opportunities for survivors of modern slavery. Reintegration efforts include voluntary repatriation for trafficking victims and assistance in their home communities.


Under frameworks set forth in both the Palermo Protocol and the TVPA, prosecution is an indispensible element for government programs to fight trafficking. The Department of State evaluates whether governments prescribe a maximum prison sentence of at least four years’ deprivation of liberty for the crime of trafficking in persons and vigorously prosecute alleged trafficking offenders. Imposed sentences should involve significant jail time, with a majority of a government’s cases resulting in sentences on the order of one year of imprisonment or more. Sentences should take into account the severity of an individual’s involvement in trafficking, imposed sentences for other grave crimes, and the judiciary’s right to hand down punishments consistent with that country’s laws.

The Office works with its interagency and law enforcement partners within the U.S. government, as well as NGO partners from around the world to ensure adequate anti-trafficking laws and vigorous prosecution to ensure that justice is served.