Ralph Simpson
Director, migration and counter-trafficking

Ralph Simpson is a director of RCG and oversees the company’s counter-trafficking and migrant smuggling team. The focus of his work with governments, international bodies and non-government organizations (NGOs) is to build the capacity of criminal justice systems to tackle trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling, child sexual exploitation and corruption.

For 30 years, Ralph practiced as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand. He was a litigation partner in Bell Gully, one of New Zealand’s leading commercial law firms, from 1992 to 2014. From 2007 to 2014, Chambers Global, Legal 500 Asia Pacific and PLC Which Lawyer recognized Ralph as one of New Zealand’s leading litigators.

In 2015, Ralph retired from his firm to lead an NGO based in Thailand that works with Thai law enforcement agencies to investigate, prosecute and convict offenders engaging in human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. The organization also provides social welfare and legal assistance to victims. In 2017, he became an independent consultant, joining RCG in January 2018.

Ralph’s legal career, investigative work, training experience and engagement in law reform provide him with a uniquely informed perspective on the shortcomings of many criminal justice responses to human trafficking, migrant smuggling and child sexual exploitation. He brings this experience to bear in reviewing the adequacy of human trafficking and migrant smuggling laws across a range of jurisdictions, recommending amendments to bring those laws into conformity with international legal requirements, while identifying those reforms likely to have the most impact on enforcement and deterrence.

Ralph has developed curriculums and provided training on human trafficking and migrant smuggling to judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers, law enforcement and community development workers. At the operational level, he has provided training on investigating trafficking cases, including law enforcement operations to rescue victims of trafficking, arrest of offenders and capture evidence. To address the risks and sensitivities of such operations, he developed a code of conduct for NGOs in Southeast Asia assisting law enforcement agencies with such operations. This code was published by the Freedom Collaborative.

Consequently, Ralph has been engaged by NGOs to develop effective programs to disrupt trafficking and smuggling networks and provide care and assistance to victims. This includes the identification, protection, return, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of trafficking in persons.

In Sudan, Ralph developed and implemented litigation skills training for prosecutors and defence lawyers involved in human trafficking trials, working with local trainers to adapt internationally recognized approaches in the context of a complex legal system comprising elements of the old British system and sharia law. He subsequently worked with police trainers to develop a follow-up course bringing police, prosecutors and policymakers together for scenario-based training. This approach is now being extended to other countries.

In 2014, Ralph received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Zealand Law Awards. He holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland.