Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings

International Legislation

International Legislation

This section provides a list of the most important international conventions, protocols and declarations to fight human trafficking and an overview of other instruments of relevance.


Brussels, 4 December 2018

Today, the European Commission is presenting its Second Report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings.

Taking stock of measures taken since 2015, the report highlights the main trends in trafficking in human beings and outlines remaining challenges that the EU and Member States must address as a matter of priority.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "Thousands of human beings are still trafficked every year in the European Union. This happens right under our watch – to women, children, to EU and non-EU citizens. Despite progress in some areas, there is an imperative need to end the culture of impunity for perpetrators and abusers. It is time for law enforcement and justice authorities across Member States to further step up cooperation and duly enforce existing legislation to catch those involved in this heinous crime, and offer effective and rightful protection to the victims”.

The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Myria Vassiliadou, said: "The findings of this second report are encouraging but at the same time concerning. A lot has been achieved but our ultimate goal must remain eradicating the crime, we owe this to the victims. We have a rich toolbox at EU level ready to be fully implemented and ensure that no victims remain invisible."

The report shows that 20,532 men, women and children were registered as victims of trafficking in the EU in 2015-2016. However, the actual number is likely to be significantly higher as many victims remain undetected. Women and girls continue to be most vulnerable to trafficking (68%) while children represent 23% of registered victims. Trafficking for sexual exploitation remains the most widespread form (56%), followed by trafficking for labour exploitation (26%). The level of prosecutions and convictions is low, with 5,979 prosecutions and 2,927 convictions reported and only 18 reported convictions for knowingly using services provided by victims. The report also highlights an increase in trafficking within Member States and targeting of younger victims and persons with disabilities. The use of Internet and social media to recruit victims is also noted as well as the heightened risk of trafficking in the context of migration. 

While there have been certain improvements, particularly in relation to cross-border cooperation (demonstrated by the joint efforts of Europol and Eurojust), the phenomenon continues to evolve. As a result, the Commission outlines a number of priority areas for Member States to focus on to effectively combat trafficking in human beings:

  •  Improved data collection: Member States should improve the recording and registration of data particularly on gender, age, forms of exploitation, citizenship of victims and perpetrators, as well as on assistance and protection;
  • Countering the culture of impunity: EU rules already allow for the criminalisation of those who knowingly use services provided by victims of trafficking and the Commission encourages the Member States to implement those provisions in their national laws;
  • Promoting a coordinated response: Member States should continue enhancing transnational law enforcement and judicial cooperation while at the same time promoting cooperation with non-EU countries;
  • Ensuring victims' access to justice: Member States are encouraged to give effect to national legislation by ensuring tools are in place for early identification of victims, providing access to compensation, and promoting appropriate training and capacity building of relevant professionals.

Since the release of a first progress report, the Commission has taken numerous steps to address trafficking in human beings and will continue to assist Member States in their efforts, through both financial support and operational measures.

Background

Trafficking in human beings is a violation of fundamental rights, and is explicitly prohibited under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The EU Anti-trafficking Directive adopted in 2011 put forward a victim-centred, gender-specific and child-sensitive approach to address trafficking in human beings, establishing robust provisions on victims' protection, assistance and support, as well as on prevention and prosecution of the crime. Under the Directive, Member States must report to the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator who in turn contributes to the Commission's bi-annual progress report.

On 4 December 2017, the Commission published a Communication outlining its priority actions to address trafficking in human beings. Today's report includes an update on the actions taken under this Communication and its findings will feed into the Communication's further implementation. Today's report also includes an update on the application of EU rules on residence permits for victims of trafficking (Directive 2004/81/EC). 

For More Information

Second Report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings (2018)

Commission Staff Working Document

Study: Data collection on trafficking in human beings in the EU

Commission website: Together against trafficking in human beings

Second progress report Factsheet

Implementing a key action set forth in the 2017 Communication stepping up EU action to address trafficking in human beings (Priority B), the European Commission published Working together to address trafficking in human beings: key concepts in a nutshell.

The document is to be seen in the context of contributing to a coordinated and consolidated Union response against trafficking in human beings. The text does not provide an interpretation of EU law, but is intended to disseminate knowledge about trafficking in human beings by providing the conceptual clarity that is necessary for concrete policies, operational action and funding allocations. The selection of widely used concepts is based on publicly available information on trafficking in human beings published by the European Commission, EU agencies, and international organisations.

Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most commonly reported form of human trafficking in the European Union. It is a form of gender-based violence that disproportionately affects women. 95% of registered victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the EU are women or girls. Trafficking in women and girls remains a structural form of violence against women. Member States are obliged by law to take gender specific measures to assist and protect victims. In the lead up to the EU Anti-Trafficking day on 18 October, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has published a report on the matter.
 
“Our research shows that trafficking for sexual exploitation is rooted in gender inequalities. Anti-trafficking efforts cannot and must not overlook the gender-specific roots of this crime, which make women and girls more vulnerable to trafficking,” said Virginija Langbakk, EIGE’s director.
“Women and girls make up the majority of reported victims of trafficking and continue to be disproportionately affected. This report forms part of a new set of priority actions presented by the Commission in December 2017, and reflects the commitments agreed in the Joint Statement signed by the Heads of ten EU Agencies last June. I believe it will help the many women and girls who have suffered unfathomably at the hands of traffickers and abusers. It will also help Member States translate into action their legal obligations to adopt gender-specific measures which take into account the form of exploitation victims have been subjected to,” said the s EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou.
Victims of trafficking hold the right to assistance, support and protection.
 
EIGE has analysed both the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive and the Victims’ Rights Directive from a gender perspective. The Institute, in cooperation with the European Commission, has developed gender and child specific recommendations to help Member States implement the directives and monitor their progress. Both directives need to be implemented in complementarity in order to maximise their potential to protect. National strategies to address trafficking for sexual exploitation should also be included in a broader national strategy to combat gender-based violence.
 

To mark the 12th EU Anti-Trafficking Day, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will tomorrow address an event organised by Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) Committees of the European Parliament for the launch of a report on gender-specific measures in anti-trafficking actions, prepared by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in cooperation with the European Commission. The report highlights that trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most commonly reported form of human trafficking in the EU: 95% of registered victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the EU are women or girls. Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "Trafficking in human beings is a heinous crime and has no place in Europe or anywhere else in the world. There should be zero tolerance towards traffickers that continue to exploit and abuse vulnerable people, in particular women and girls. Europe needs to put an end to this crime, and prevent that it happens in the first place, while offering effective support to the victims. We need operational deliverables and tangible results. Today's report is a stark reminder of how serious the problem is, and aims to ensure actual impact on the lives of many victims of trafficking. Together we will continue our efforts to fully eradicate the trafficking in human beings, building a Europe that is safe for all." The report is a deliverable of the new set of priority actions adopted by the Commission in December 2017. Commissioner Avramopoulos will speak in the European Parliament tomorrow at 11.30 CET, which will be streamed live on EBS+. More information on the Commission's priority actions on trafficking in human beings is available in the factsheet and on the anti-trafficking website.

Trafficking for sexual exploitation: a gendered crime

Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most commonly reported form of human trafficking in the European Union. It is a form of gender-based violence that disproportionately affects women. 95% of registered victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the EU are women or girls. Trafficking in women and girls remains a structural form of violence against women. Member States are obliged by law to take gender specific measures to assist and protect victims. In the lead up to the EU Anti-Trafficking day on 18 October, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has published a report on the matter.

“Our research shows that trafficking for sexual exploitation is rooted in gender inequalities. Anti-trafficking efforts cannot and must not overlook the gender-specific roots of this crime, which make women and girls more vulnerable to trafficking,” said Virginija Langbakk, EIGE’s director.

“Women and girls make up the majority of reported victims of trafficking and continue to be disproportionately affected. This report forms part of a new set of priority actions presented by the Commission in December 2017, and reflects the commitments agreed in the Joint Statement signed by the Heads of ten EU Agencies last June. I believe it will help the many women and girls who have suffered unfathomably at the hands of traffickers and abusers. It will also help Member States translate into action their legal obligations to adopt gender-specific measures which take into account the form of exploitation victims have been subjected to,” said the s EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou.

Victims of trafficking hold the right to assistance, support and protection.

EIGE has analysed both the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive and the Victims’ Rights Directive from a gender perspective. The Institute, in cooperation with the European Commission, has developed gender and child specific recommendations to help Member States implement the directives and monitor their progress. Both directives need to be implemented in complementarity in order to maximise their potential to protect. National strategies to address trafficking for sexual exploitation should also be included in a broader national strategy to combat gender-based violence.

https://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige-publications/gender-specific-measures-anti-trafficking-actions-report

Read more at this link.

The EU Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREMs) was established following the Council Conclusions in June 2009. The role of the NREMs is elaborated in the Anti-trafficking Directive, Article 19. Further information from the EU Member States is available in the dedicated section.

The NREMs are responsible for monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policy at the national level and play a crucial role in data collection on trafficking in human beings at both national and EU level. The European Commission, via the Office of the EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator (EU ATC), has worked to facilitate and strengthen the work of the EU Network of NREMs to promote enhanced information sharing and exchange of best practice, as well as to ensure good coordination of tasks at EU and national level.  Currently, the successful functioning of the Network is ensured with biannual meetings attended by all NREMs appointed by the EU Member States and all independent bodies, where possible. The EU ATC, on behalf of the European Commission, chairs the meetings with the incumbent EU Presidency. This allows for working at both the operational and strategic level as well as at the monitoring level in an informed and coordinated way.

The Heads of ten EU Agencies signed a 2018 Joint Statement of commitment to working together to address trafficking in human beings, building on the work done and the synergies created since the 2011 Joint Statement was signed.

Part of the mandate of the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator is to foster cooperation and policy coherence. To this end, joint efforts to address trafficking in human beings continue to be fostered with, amongst others, the EU Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms, the EU Civil Society Platform and the Coordination Network of the EU Agencies’ contact points on trafficking in human beings, including via regular meetings.

The comprehensive EU approach is anchored in the EU Anti-trafficking Directive and complemented by the EU Strategy 2012-2016 and the 2017 Communication stepping up EU action. Further relevant EU and international instruments, as well as case law, are available in the dedicated sections.

National Rapporteurs and/or Equivalent Mechanisms body content

 

call for proposals has been published including the topic Support to victims of trafficking in human beings, with deadline 31 January 2019. 

This call is part of the activities foreseen in the Annual Work Programme 2018 for the Asylum Migration Integration Fund.

 

Project ANTICORRP - Anticorruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption

Reference FP7 290529

 

Coordinator: The Quality of Government Institute (University of Gothenburg), Sweden

 

Budget 7.999.182€

 

Timeframe 1/3/12 – 28/2/17

 

Partners:

  • The Quality of Government Institute, Sweden (QOG)
  • Hertie School of Governance, Germany (HERTIE)
  • University College London, UK (UCL)
  • Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy (SNS)
  • Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Greece (ELIAMEP)
  • Transparency International, Germany (TI)
  • University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (UNIAM)
  • University of Bergamo, Italy (UNIBG)
  • University of Perugia, Italy (UNIPG)
  • GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Germany (GIGA)Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria (CSD)
  • Basel Institute on Governance, Switzerland (BIG)
  • Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary (BCE)
  • Romanian Academic Society, Romania (SAR)
  • Centre for Public Policy, Latvia (PROVIDUS)
  • Hacettepe University, Turkey (HAT)
  • School of Communication and Media, Slovakia (SKAMBA)
  • Partnership for Social Development, Croatia (PSD)
  • Kosovar Stability Initiative, Kosovo (IKS)
  • The University of Nottingham, UK (UNOTT)

 

Objectives and results

The central objective of the project was to investigate factors that promote or hinder the development of effective anti-corruption policies. Work Package 9 addressed organised crime and impact on vulnerable groups, and explored the patterns of corruption and anti-corruption in trafficking of women in EU in comparative perspective. It researched options for fighting corruption employed by organised crime related to human trafficking. The project developed policy implications and recommendations: http://anticorrp.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/D9.4_Integrated-Report_HumanTrafficking.pdf

 

 

Publications and other resources: 

 

Further information

 

Project: GLOMIG (Global Migration From the Eastern Mediterranean and Eurasia: Security and Human Rights Challenges to Europe)

Reference: 28756 – FP6

Promoter: ORTA DOGU TEKNIK UNIVERSITESI

  • Inonu Bulvari
  • ANKARA
  • Turkey

 

Budget : 250,000 €

Timeframe: 01/04/2006 to 31/03/2008

Partners:

  • BERLINER INSTITUT FUER VERGLEICHENDE SOZIALFORSCHUNG E.V. (Germany)
  • INSTITUTE FOR GLOBALIZATION STUDIES (Russia)
  • STICHTING KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT (Netherlands)
  • THE WARDEN AND FELLOWS OF SANT ANTONY'S COLLEGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD (United Kingdom)

 

Objectives and results

The nature of migration has changed considerably from one where population movements mainly flowed from less developed countries to developed ones. This calls for new strategies in the field of migration research and policymaking that involve (re)defining and (re)formulating the complexity of these new global migration movements, taking into account a necessary shift of emphasis from economic aspects to security-related ones.

The 'Global migration from the Eastern Mediterranean and Eurasia: Security and human rights challenges to Europe' (Glomig) project worked to foster cooperation between the EU and International Cooperation (INCO) countries through workshops, gatherings of expert groups and provision of policy recommendations related to global migration. Project partners approached their goals with an eye to promoting and facilitating collaborative, comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to the topic. Interested parties from the EU, Russia and Turkey and countries from the western Balkans, Caucasus and eastern Mediterranean were brought together. The aim was to contribute to the European Research Area (ERA) through the creation of a common platform for sharing insights, experiences and know-how on migration, and thus highlighting opportunities and challenges for all involved.

Glomig gathered academics, government officials, representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and advocacy units, and other stakeholders. Project activities allowed for discussion of the various perspectives, especially those of migrant-sending and receiving countries as well as of institutions controlling migratory processes — and of course, of migrants themselves.

Presentations and discussion of the policy papers touched on a number of issues including economic, political and social causes and consequences of migration, human rights, security and democracy, gender issues, and formal and informal networks playing a role in population movements. Participants also focused on preventative and combating measures for smuggling and trafficking.

The creation of platforms also allowed for all views on the topic to be reformulated and integrated into novel frameworks, as well as for advancing migration research by introducing new issues and dimensions. An example of the latter is the increasing feminisation of migration, where women are now migrating independently as students and refugees as well as for economic reasons.

The two volumes of work produced by the project aim to facilitate transnational cooperation for improved impact analyses as well as to promote interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and policy measures incorporating various stakeholders' perspectives.

 

Publications and other resources

 

 

Further information

 

Project CHILDMOVE

On the Move: The impact of flight experiences on the psychological well-being of unaccompanied refugee minors.

 

Reference ERC-2016-StG Grants #714222

PI: Ilse DERLUYN

 

(Promoter) Host Institution – Ghent University

 

Budget € 1,432,500.00

 

Timeframe

Start date: 01/02/2017

End date: 31/01/2022

Duration: 60 months

 

(Partners) Other Beneficiaries – N/A

 

Objectives and results

Since early 2015, the media continuously confront us with images of refugee children drowning in the Mediterranean, surviving in appalling conditions in camps or walking across Europe.

Within this group of fleeing children, a considerable number is traveling without parents, the unaccompanied refugee minors.

While the media images testify to these flight experiences and their possible huge impact on unaccompanied minors’ well-being, there has been no systematic research to fully capture these experiences, nor their mental health impact.

Equally, no evidence exists on whether the emotional impact of these flight experiences should be differentiated from the impact of the traumatic events these minors endured in their home country or from the daily stressors in the country of settlement.

This project aims to fundamentally increase our knowledge of the impact of experiences during the flight in relation to past trauma and current stressors.

To achieve this aim, it is essential to set up a longitudinal follow-up of a large group of unaccompanied refugee minors, whereby our study starts from different transit countries, crosses several European countries, and uses innovative methodological and mixed-methods approaches.

I will hereby not only document the psychological impact these flight experiences may have but also the way in which care and reception structures for unaccompanied minors in both transit and settlement countries can contribute to reducing this mental health impact.

This proposal will fundamentally change the field of migration studies, by introducing a whole new area of study and novel methodological approaches to study these themes.

Moreover, other fields, such as trauma studies, will be directly informed by the project, as also clinical, educational and social work interventions for victims of multiple trauma.

Last, the findings on the impact of reception and care structures will be highly informative for policymakers and practitioners.

Rationale:

The project will look at unaccompanied refugee minors and their experiences. At the same time, the PI and her team will also look at the role of smuggling and trafficking processes in the experiences of transiting unaccompanied youths and their emotional impact.

Publications and other resources – No publications to date

 

Further information

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Project CONNECTINGEUROPE

Title: Digital Crossings in Europe: Gender, Diaspora and Belonging

 

Reference ERC-2014-CoG Grants # 647737

PI: Sandra Ponzanesi

 

(Promoter) Host Institution – Utrecht University

 

Budget € 1,992,809.00

 

Timeframe

Start date: 01/01/2016

End date: 31/12/2020

Duration: 60 months

 

(Partners) Other Beneficiaries – N/A

 

Objectives and results

Many immigrants enter Europe both legally and illegally every year.

This creates multiple challenges for the Union, including the gender and ethnic segregation of migrant groups, especially women.

While it strives for an inclusive and integrated society as envisioned by the EU motto ‘Unity in Diversity’, it is still often perceived more as ‘Fortress Europe.’ This project focuses on the ‘connected migrant’, studying how virtual communities of migrants, or digital diasporas, convey issues of technology, migration, globalisation, alienation and belonging capturing the lives of migrants in their interaction with multiple worlds and media.

More specifically, it will investigate whether digital technologies enhance European integration or foster gender and ethnic segregation, and, if so, how.

Using a multi-layered and cutting-edge approach that draws from the humanities, social science and new media studies (i.e.internet studies and mobile media), this research considers:

1. How migration and digital technologies enable digital diasporas (Somali, Turkish, Romanian) and the impact these have on identity, gender and belonging in European urban centres;

2. How these entanglements are connected to and perceived from outside Europe by focusing on transnational ties; and

3. How digital connections create new possibilities for cosmopolitan outlooks, rearticulating Europe’s motto of ‘Unity in Diversity.’

The outcomes of this work will be innovative at three levels.

a) Empirically, the project gathers, maps and critically grounds online behaviour by migrant women from a European comparative perspective.

b) Methodologically, it breaks new ground by developing new methods of analysis for digital diasporas contributing to the development of ‘postcolonial’ digital humanities.

c) Conceptually, it integrates colonial and migrant relations into the idea of Europe, elaborating on the notion of cosmopolitan belonging through virtual connectivity.

 

Rationale:

 

The focus of this project is on gender migration, i.e. female migration. This may be linked to family reunion, arranged marriages, love-chain and care-drain (through which migrants leave their loved ones behind to take care of others as nannies, domestic workers or for the care of elderly), but also to more unsettling issues such as trafficking of women, or women escaping violent conflict.

 

Publications and other resources – No publications to date

 

Further information

 

Project EUBorderCare

Intimate Encounters in EU Borderlands: Migrant Maternity, Sovereignty and the Politics of Care on Europe’s Peripheries

 

Reference ERC-2016-StG Grants # 638259

PI: Vanessa Elisa Grotti

 

(Promoter) Host Institution – European University Institute

 

Budget € 1,498,463.00

 

Timeframe

Start date: 01/08/2015

End date: 31/07/2020

Duration: 60 months

 

(Partners) Other Beneficiaries – N/A

Objectives and results

 

EU Border Care is a comparative study of the politics of maternity care among undocumented migrants on the EU’s peripheries.

Empirical analysis of personal and institutional relations of care and control in the context of pregnancy and childbirth will support an innovative critique of the moral rationale underpinning healthcare delivery and migration governance in some of Europe’s most densely crossed borderlands in France, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

Unlike other categories of migrants, undocumented pregnant women are a growing phenomenon, yet few social sciences or public health studies address EU migrant maternity care.

This subject has urgent implications: whilst recent geopolitical events in North Africa and the Middle East have triggered a quantifiable increase in pregnant women entering the EU in an irregular situation, poor maternal health indicators among such women represent ethical and medical challenges to which frontline maternity services located in EU borderlands have to respond, often with little preparation or support from national and European central authorities.

Grounded in long-term ethnographic fieldwork in maternity wards located in French Guiana and Mayotte (Overseas France), the North Aegean and Attica (Greece), Sicily (Italy), and Ceuta and Melilla (Spain), my project will trace the networks of maternity care delivery in peripheries facing an increase of immigration flows, and characterised by structural social and economic underinvestment.

The team will investigate migrant maternity from three interlinked research perspectives: migrant women, healthcare delivery staff, and regional institutional agencies.

Empirical and desk research, combined with creative audio-visual methods, will document migrant maternity on EU borderlands to address wider questions about identity and belonging, citizenship and sovereignty, and humanitarianism and universalism in Europe today.

 

Rationale:

 

The steady increase in the proportion of migrant women entering the European Union in the past two decades is now well documented in social and political sciences, particularly in the case of domestic work and healthcare, family migration and human trafficking. Pregnant migrant women represent some of the world’s most vulnerable populations entering the European Union today. Their maternal health indicators are consistently poor: existing surveys show that they receive little to no routine antenatal care, and experience more complications during labour and childbirth than their non-migrant counterparts. This project is looking, among other matters, at how women migrants who enter EU borderlands today as part of smuggling operations developed with little regard to human security are exposed to increasing health complications.

 

Publications and other resources – No publications to date

 

Further information