Posted on

23 April 2022

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The non-punishment principle sets out that victims of trafficking should not be prosecuted or otherwise punished for unlawful acts they commit as a consequence of trafficking. It does not offer blanket immunity, but is a critical tool for victim protection and human rights-based criminal justice response to human trafficking.

The ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children - signed by all ASEAN Member States - states that victims of trafficking should not be punished for unlawful acts committed because of being trafficked. Yet across the region, victims of trafficking may face punishment for immigration offences, use of fraudulent documents, involvement in prostitution or drug-related activities, or for offences they commit trying to escape their exploitative situation.

A Study supported by ASEAN-ACT and authored by international law expert Dr Marika McAdam examines the extent to which the non-punishment principle is reflected in laws, policies and practices, and canvasses barriers that have been encountered in protecting victims from punishment.

The Executive Summary can be downloaded in English, Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese.

Read the full Study below, or download a copy in English, Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese.

The importance of the non-punishment principle for a human rights-based approach to countering trafficking:

This video is also available in Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese.

Your questions answered about the non-punishment principle:

This video is also available in Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Thai and Vietnamese.

Dr Marika McAdam further explains the non-punishment principle:

This video is also available in Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Thai and Vietnamese.

The Study sets out the following recommendations to protect victims from punishment throughout the criminal justice process:

Download the infographic as a PDF or image file for sharing.

Infographic translated in Khmer.

The Study was officially launched by ASEAN-ACT and supported by ASEAN officials on the 25 April 2022, the recording can be viewed here:

Share the Study with your networks on Twitter:


The Study is also available at aseanactpartnershiphub.com/non-punishment-study.

For further information, please contact info@aseanact.org.