Amnesty International approves move to call for decriminalisation of sex work

The controversial move has been opposed by those who see sex work as purely coercive Credit: Reuters

Amnesty International is to campaign for the decriminalisation of "consensual" sex work, following a vote at its decision-making forum in Dublin.

Delegates at the rights group's International Council Meeting passed a resolution recommending Amnesty develop a policy on "the human rights of sex workers" that includes the decriminalistaion of sex work.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary general, called the vote "historic", saying it would "shape this area of our human rights work going forward".

The move follows two years of consultation on the topic, including the controversial debate over whether sex work is purely coercive, or whether women should have a right to choose to work in the industry.

Amnesty has come under fire from those who warn decriminalisation will lead to an increase in human trafficking, and others who accuse the group of trying to turn buying sex into a right, claims the group strongly denies.

In a letter to the New York Times earlier this month Amnesty's campaigns director Thomas Shultz-Jagow said such a characterisation "skews a carefully researched policy".

A news release about the new resolution on Amnesty's website stresses that the group continues to campaign for crackdowns on human trafficking and sexual exploitation.