International guidelines now clarify the rights of trafficked persons under existing International law, in particular their rights to protection and assistance. Intergovernmental agencies and non-governmental organizations have issued a range of good practice guidelines concerning assistance and care so that identified trafficked persons can be transferred to a safe place to receive a variety of services, including physical and psychological care, legal assistance, shelter and protection. Significant efforts have also been made to develop standards for the special care of children.
The treatment of trafficked persons in countries of exploitation varies widely from country to country. Restrictions on the definition of a trafficking person (women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, for example) can leave other trafficked persons without any legal recourse. In many places, trafficked persons remain criminalized for their illegal entry into or residence in the countries of transit and destination or for their involvement in illicit activities that were a direct consequence of their being trafficked. The consequence of inadequate identification procedures usually means that a trafficked person will be summarily returned to his or her country of origin without any attention to potential risks at home.
Recovery for trafficked persons is a long and complex process. Lessons learned reveal that the conventional assumption that victims should be repatriated and returned to live with their families is inappropriate and results too easily in victims being returned to a situation where they suffer further harm.