Hogan Lovells and Doughty Street Chambers support the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children
London, Washington, D.C., 6 February 2024 – The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, Siobhán Mullally has submitted an ‘amicus brief’ in the case of Siti Aisah and others v. United States of America.
The pro bono team at Hogan Lovells and Catherine Meredith of Doughty Street Chambers have supported the Special Rapporteur in providing information on international human rights law to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
This case concerns the purported human trafficking and mistreatment of migrant workers by diplomatic officials. The Special Rapporteur has stated that the mistreatment of domestic workers by diplomats cannot be protected by diplomatic immunity because it is an activity that sits outside the ordinary life of a diplomat.
The brief highlights that, under the terms of international treaties ratified by the USA and customary law, there is an obligation on states to prevent human trafficking from happening and to provide an effective remedy for human rights violations. It calls for immediate action to give domestic workers, such as those in this case who are alleged to have been trafficked by diplomats and consular employees, access to courts or other legal avenues to hold their employers accountable for exploitation.
Siobhán Mullally, UN Special Rapporteur said:
“It is crucial that domestic workers have access to justice. States must work towards prevention and protection of domestic workers, and eliminate the continuing inequalities they endure, linked to histories of gendered and racialised discrimination.”
The case was first submitted in 2007 when Siti Aisah, a domestic worker from Indonesia, claimed that she was severely underpaid and denied her freedom when she worked for a Qatari diplomat and his family between 1998 and 2000. In her declaration, she alleged that her employer confiscated her passport and was cut off from communicating with the outside world.
Ms. Aisah’s co-petitioners and other domestic workers, who have also given evidence, allege similar conditions, including, in some instances, physical and sexual abuse.
By submitting this amicus brief the Special Rapporteur hopes to bring attention to these crucial issues and prompt further action by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Ivan Shiu, Partner at Hogan Lovells said:
"It is our sincere hope that the collective efforts embodied in this amicus brief can catalyse positive change and advance justice for trafficked domestic workers – a cause deserving of long overdue attention and resolution."
Queries on the firm's work on this matter should be directed to: [email protected].
The Hogan Lovells team, working pro bono, includes: Ivan Shiu, Rhian Lewis, Nathan Seedall, Bethan Savage and Elspeth Aylett.