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Case Law Last update : 19.08.2013

This section provides an overview of Case Law on trafficking in human beings considered by the European Court of Human Rights as well as an overview of Case Law from EU Member States. It will be regularly updated.

  • Si.El. and Bu.Me Case

    Country: Italy

    Court: Crema Court, Criminal Section

    Sentence date: 6 October 2010

    Purpose of exploitation: Sexual exploitation and begging

    Si.El. and Bu.Me., Romanian nationals, were sentenced to five years and six months' imprisonment and a fine of 1,500 Euros. In addition to this, they had to jointly pay Court costs. The judgment was rendered on the grounds that they were accused of having approached some girls in Romania and misled them about the possibility of getting a regular job in Italy, as well as a dwelling house and a decent life. The sole purpose of this was to gain an unfair benefit equal to the sums of money Si.El. and Bu.Me. obtained through prostitution and begging.

    Once arrived in Italy, the girls were indeed deprived of their documents and forced to have sex with clients of Italian nationality through violence. Advantage was also taken of their state of ignorance of Italian language and law, which did not allow them to ask for help. Si.El. and the clients directly agreed on sexual intercourse services. He priced said services, planned meetings and demanded payment of the agreed price, the amount of which he entirely retained.

    For these offences, a security measure of assigning them to a correction workhouse for a period of one year was also imposed upon Si.El. and Bu.Le. Moreover, they were barred from holding public office for a term of five years.

  • R v. O EWCA Crim 2835

    Country: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Nigeria

    Court: Court of Appeal (England and Wales)

    Sentenced date: 2 September 2008

    Purpose of exploitation: Exploitation of the prostitution

    The Nigerian appellant travelled to France legally with a passport and visa, fleeing her village where her father wished for her to partake in an arranged marriage with a 63-year-old man. She went to France on credit, having been told that she would have work available to her when she arrived to repay her travel debt. Having no family in this country but an uncle in Paris, having lost her documentation and being scared that if she went to the police, she would simply be returned to Nigeria, she sought shelter in France and undertook to use a false instrument. The Court of Appeal of England and Wales allowed the appeal because of poor procedural protection standards applied before.

  • Roma father case

    Country: Italy

    Court: Supreme Court of Cassation, V Criminal Section

    Sentence date: 6 October 2010

    Purpose of exploitation: Criminal activities by minors

    Custody in prison and charges of enslavement for the Roma father who sold his underage daughter to people forcing her to steal. He "sold" his underage daughter for 200,000 Euros to a family who forced her to steal goods in apartments. The story that led to the arrest of appellant was brought to light through wiretaps which clearly showed that the child had been "trained" to steal. She was also threatened so that, if caught red-handed, she wouldn’t have told the Police Constables her slavery story, that is, she had been sold to do “something” that she had been compelled to by her parents since her childhood. The Supreme Judges have with this judgment endorsed the decision made by the Tribunal of Freedom (*) not to release her father who had tried to pass off the sum of money having ended up in his pockets as a dowry. Such an excuse did not pass the scrutiny by the judges of the Courthouse [in Rome]. They rightly stressed indeed that it is the father who has to give money or property to the bridegroom's family for the dowry and not conversely. The amount paid by the head of the family who had received the child was just the price established for selling a minor "being regarded as something that could be a subject of trade." Hence the serious charge of enslavement was made.


    * Provincial court reviewing cases of people who have been imprisoned. It is empowered to order their release

  • R v N; R v LE (2012) EWCA Crim 189

    Country: United Kingdom

    Court: England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Decisions

    Sentence date: 20 February 2012

    Purpose of exploitation: Child trafficking for labour exploitation

    Two Vietnamese defendants pleaded guilty to offences involving the production of cannabis. They had both worked as gardeners in cannabis factories. One of them, N, was sentenced to an 18-month detention and training order. L was sentenced to 20 months detention in a Young Offender Institution. The UK Border Agency accepted that L had been smuggled or trafficked into the United Kingdom.

    The Court concluded that the Crown Prosecution Service was entitled to prosecute foreign national youths with drug offences, despite the UK Border Agency accepting that they may have been smuggled or trafficked into the UK.

    This was the first occasion the Court of Appeal considered the problem of child trafficking for labour exploitation. It sets out clear principles and authorities for the application of the protective mechanism of the Trafficking Convention for future prosecutions where there is evidence of human trafficking.

  • First conviction for trafficking in Northern Ireland

    Country: Northern Ireland

    Court: Belfast Crown Court

    Sentence date: 23 April 2012

    Purpose of exploitation: Exploitation of the prostitution

    A man has been convicted by Belfast Crown Court of prostitution and human trafficking offences and was jailed for 18 months.

    Matyas Pis, 38 was convicted of the trafficking of two women into the UK, controlling prostitution and brothel keeping. The women asked Pis to book their air tickets, and he provided them with an apartment in Belfast. They would then be advertised on the internet as escorts to pay back the rent for their apartment and their travelling expenses. The restaurant owner admitted controlling prostitution and running a brothel from an apartment in the city's Titanic Quarter.

    Judge Burgess said the women were not being held against their will, but he could not ignore that "human trafficking is a global problem and we should not be blind to the fact that it is happening right now in Northern Ireland".This was the first time that the courts in Northern Ireland have had the opportunity to sentence someone for trafficking offences.

  • L, HVN, THN, TVR

    Country: United Kingdom

    Court: Court of appeal (criminal division)

    Sentence date: 21 June 2013

    Purpose of exploitation: Labour exploitation

    The judgment deals with four unconnected cases in which three children and one adult were trafficked by criminals. The victims were involved in criminal activities. The case touches upon Article 8 of EU Directive 2011/36/EU on the non-prosecution or the non-application of penalties to the victims.

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  • V.F. v France

    Country: France

    Court: European Court of Human Rights

    Sentence date: 29 November 2011

    Purpose of exploitation: Exploitation of prostitution

    The Nigerian applicant lodged an application for asylum with the French Office for Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA).  She took the view that return to Nigeria would have put her at risk of being forced into prostitution again. She relied among others on Article 4 of the Convention. Her application was rejected as manifestly ill-founded.

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