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Amnesty International adopts principles to protect and uphold human rights of sex workers

    August 11, 2015

    At its International Council Meeting in Dublin, Ireland, Amnesty International adopted a resolution outlining principles that will lead to a new global policy to protect and uphold the human rights of sex workers.    

    The principles seek to protect people of all genders who are involved in the sex trade - and who face deep marginalization and discrimination in countries around the world - from violence and other human rights abuses.

    The resolution directs Amnesty International's Board to adopt a policy supporting the full decriminalization of consensual adult sex work, while continuing to advocate for full and effective enforcement of laws and policies to prevent and redress violence, trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.

    These principles include the obligation of governments to protect the human rights of sex workers, including women’s rights, gender equality, LGBTI rights, children’s rights, the rights of Indigenous peoples, non-discrimination, access to justice, health, security of the person, the right to a livelihood, and protection from exploitation.

    The resolution also obliges states to ensure that laws and policies do not contribute to further risk to sex workers by calling on states to "review and repeal laws that make sex workers vulnerable to human rights violations, but also refrain from enacting such laws."

    The principles also highlight that states have an obligation to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of all people are upheld so that no one is forced into sex work, or is unable to leave the sex trade, because of economic pressure.

    The resolution recognizes and respects the agency of sex workers to articulate their own experiences and define the most appropriate solutions to ensure their own welfare and safety.

    Amnesty International has long expressed concern over the high levels of violence facing sex workers in Canada, especially the heightened risks faced by the disproportionate numbers of Indigenous people in the sex trade. We have called on government and law enforcement to ensure that their actions reduce, rather than increase, this risk. The issue of harm reduction was at the heart of the Supreme Court decision in the Bedford case which struck down Canada's previous prostitution laws. This is one of the issues that Amnesty International will review once a new global policy is adopted.

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations, 613-744-7667 #236

    Comments on Amnesty International’s adopted resolution on the human rights of sex workers can be directed to


    Amnesty International News Release