criminals due to the coercive effect of their home and community environments and gang
This Article examines the issue of juvenile gang member delinquency in the context of
labor trafficking. Part II discusses the laws that define labor trafficking and child labor, both
domestically and internationally. This analysis includes relevant international case law holding
that juveniles forced to commit crimes by a gang should not be held liable as delinquents for
these crimes. Part III addresses whether these children meet the statutory definition for a victim of
labor trafficking. This discussion involves a brief overview of American street gang activity, with
a focus on the current state of gang crime in Chicago, Illinois, which has lately been described as
a hotbed of gang violence. This atmosphere is analogous to that faced by child soldiers, a class of
child victims recognized under trafficking and child labor laws and treaties. Part IV suggests next
steps based on the position that juvenile gang members are victims of labor trafficking. These
suggestions are sensitive to the law enforcement impulse to contain criminal activity and punish
criminals (and rehabilitate delinquents) appropriately, while also offering potential solutions that
would support the restoration of juvenile gang members to more socially-beneficial roles in their
communities without the stigma of a criminal record.
II. LABOR TRAFFICKING AND CHILD LABOR DEFINED
A. Human Trafficking in International and Domestic Law
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as requiring
three elements: act, means, and purpose.22 The “act” is the transporting, recruiting, harboring, or
receiving of another person.23 The “means” are the use of force, fraud, coercion, or abuse of some
power over the other person and can include threats of turning the person over to authorities for
real or trumped-up transgressions.24 The “purpose” is exploitation, whether sexual exploitation or
for the exploitation of the person for labor or services the person can provide.25 This definition,
adopted by the United Nations in 2000, has been echoed in every anti-trafficking law around the
The “act” and “motive” elements are usually not in doubt, and force and fraud are
relatively straightforward in terms of general knowledge of what the words mean. Transporting or
harboring a person—the physical act of trafficking—is typically clear from a victim’s
demonstrable presence in the alleged trafficker’s care or on the alleged trafficker’s property.
Similarly, force and fraud are clear where victims are subjected to lies and threatened or actual
physical force are used to induce cooperation or participation. Coercion, however, is less clearly
defined and more difficult to apply in practice.27
21 Jones, supra note 18, at 5.
22 Human Trafficking, U.N. OFFICE ON DRUGS & CRIME, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html (last visited on Feb. 4, 2015).
23 United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing
the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime art. 3(a), Nov. 15, 2000, 2237 U.N. T.S. 319 [hereinafter
Palermo Protocol], available at
26 See 22 U.S.C. §§ 7101–03 (2012); Eur. Consult. Ass. Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings art. 4, May 16,
2005, C.E. T.S. No. 197.
27 Where mere persuasion becomes coercion is not an easy question to answer. See discussion infra Part III; see Jones, supra note 12,