Do Courts Condone Human Trafficking?

November 20, 2013

In November 2013, HRMI addressed the Commission for Judiciary Ethics and Discipline with a complaint regarding degrading public statements made by Šiauliai Regional Court’s judge in respect of minor human trafficking victims.

After issuing a ruling in a criminal case involving sexual exploitation of minors for prostitution, the judge was asked by a journalist why the sentences handed to the abusers were so mild. The judge referred to the victims’ appearance making degrading comments and implying that the victims were themselves to blame. At the time of the commitment of the offence the victims where 15 and 14 years accordingly.

HRMI appealed to the Commission requesting to investigate the incident and institute disciplinary proceedings against the judge as her degrading comments amounted to repeated victimisation of vulnerable individuals, reinforced harmful social stereotypes and victim-blaming attitude, and violated the basic principles of judiciary ethics and the rights of the victims to adequate protection in the course of criminal proceedings.

In this way, the judge violated not only the Code of Judiciary Ethics, but also a number of international human rights treaties. The response from the Commission is pending.