Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon; to a large
extent it is about exploiting vulnerable individuals, often workers,
whether women, children or men. Human trafficking is regarded today
as the fastest growing form of organised crime producing considerable
profits. Virtually all countries of the world are believed to be affected
by the phenomenon. It is generally associated with the sex trade,
but recently the international community has focused on a much broader
dimension of the problem which is forced labour.
According to estimates from the International Labour Organisation
(ILO), there are at least 20.9 million people – three in every thousand
– trapped in forced labour in the world and 44% of these people
(9.1 million) are victims of trafficking.
3. Our committee has been taking an interest in this issue for
a number of years. In September 2010 it organised a hearing on the
question, with contributions from several experts. Convinced of
the importance of the subject, following the hearing the committee
decided to draft a report. I was appointed the new rapporteur in
June 2012 and held an exchange of views with experts during the
September 2012 meeting.
We must acknowledge the existence of and resolutely combat
this large-scale phenomenon which is rife in the very heart of Europe.
As the President of the Council of Europe’s monitoring mechanism
GRETA (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings)
stated, “A human being cannot be merchandise and Europe must be
the guarantor of this rule of civilised society”.
5. All too often, cases of trafficking for forced labour, where
migrants have been trafficked, are generally dealt with by the authorities
primarily as smuggling issues and as violations of national immigration
or labour law. This flawed approach, which puts victims in the position
of criminals, focuses on the wrong target and is an obstacle to
the effective fight against traffickers and trafficking.
the magnitude of the problem
2.1. The concept of
It is essential to fully acknowledge the magnitude
of the problem. For several years, studies and work on human trafficking
have focused on sexual exploitation. However, human trafficking
for forced labour purposes assumes various forms, not necessarily
of a sexual nature. In its reports, GRETA, has underlined the need
for States to focus not only on human trafficking for sexual exploitation,
but to also look at trafficking for labour exploitation purposes
This report looks at the phenomenon of trafficking of migrant
workers for forced labour. Throughout this report, the concept of
“forced labour” is used in a broad sense. While this approach (which
is also the one followed by the ILO) does not cover all aspects
of human trafficking or other exploitation practices,
does capture the full realm of trafficking of migrant workers for
labour and sexual exploitation purposes, including domestic slavery
The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing
the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
(“the UN Palermo Protocol”) and the Council of Europe Convention
on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (“Council of Europe
Anti-Trafficking Convention”) use a different approach by referring
to the concept of “forced labour” in a narrow sense as one of the
possible forms of exploitation.
Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS
No. 5, “the Convention”) prohibits forced labour without defining
it. The authors of the Convention took as their model the Forced
Labour Convention, which describes as “forced or compulsory labour”
“all work or service which is exacted from a person under the menace
of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself
European Court of Human Rights endorsed this definition in the Van der Mussele v. Belgium
and subsequently reiterated
this finding in its judgments in the cases of Siliadin
and C.N. and V. v. France
2.2. A phenomenon on
a massive scale
Globalisation and information technology have profoundly
changed the economy and society. On the one hand, they have generated
economic growth, employment and development, but on the other they
have been accompanied by major challenges such as widening gaps
between the haves and have-nots, a rise in income inequality, poverty,
the informal economy and unprotected work.
In this context,
human trafficking has continued to grow and has become a massive-scale
phenomenon which some call “modern-day slavery”.
11. Reliable data on the number of victims of human trafficking
for forced labour, including migrant workers, is missing. This lack
of accurate statistics is primarily due to the “hidden” nature of
the phenomenon, as only few trafficking cases are detected and consequently
investigated or prosecuted under this charge. In addition, there
are differences in data collection at national level, with some
member States counting victims of all alleged trafficking cases
for forced labour, others counting only cases prosecuted under this
charge, and others including only cases where perpetrators were
convicted. That said, there nonetheless exist estimates that are indicative
of the scale of the phenomenon.
According to ILO estimates published in 2012,
are at least 20.9 million people – three in every thousand – trapped
in forced labour in the world. Women and girls are the most numerous
victims (55%). 90% of victims are exploited in the private sector,
by individuals or enterprises (22% are victims of forced sexual exploitation
and 68% in economic activities such as agriculture, construction,
domestic work or manufacturing). The European Union and the developed
account for 7% of
victims of forced labour (76% of whom are victims of sexual exploitation
according to the European Commission), and a further 7% are to be
found in other European countries and the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS). Human trafficking of European Union citizens within
the European Union itself is believed to be increasing.
13. The ILO estimates that 44% of persons trapped in forced labour
are victims of trafficking, representing 9.1 million people. Irregular
migrants and the 42.5 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide
are particularly easy prey for traffickers.
Human trafficking presents the fastest growing form of organised
crime and the largest source of profit in transnational crime. The
profits are estimated at US$32 billion per year.
2.3. European and international
response: a strengthened legal framework
15. Today, forced labour is forbidden by international
law, European law, constitutional law, criminal law, labour law
and administrative law in virtually all countries. Nonetheless it
persists. Despite the efforts of governments, international organisations
and civil society, human trafficking remains a global problem. In response
to growing concern, several international and European legal instruments
have been added to those already in existence.
The main instrument at international level is the UN Palermo
Protocol, which includes the first internationally recognised definition
of human trafficking. The second UN Palermo Protocol against the smuggling
of migrants by land, air and sea (supplementing the United Nations
Convention against transnational organised crime), which entered
into force on 28 January 2004, is also relevant.
17. The Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention, adopted
in 2005, presented the first comprehensive and legally binding text
on this matter at European level. The convention adds a new dimension
by placing the emphasis on human rights and the protection of victims.
It is important to note that this convention is also open to ratification
by non-member States of the Council of Europe and by the European
Union. It has been ratified by 37 member States to date.
The European Union has also adopted two Directives relating
to this issue, notably Directive 2004/81/EC on residence permits
for human trafficking victims
Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in
human beings and protecting its victims (EU Anti-Trafficking Directive).
The latter adapts
the European Union legal framework to the majority of the standards
enshrined in the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention.
European Union member States are required to transpose this Directive
into national law by 6 April 2013. In June 2012, the European Commission
presented the European Union Strategy towards the eradication of
trafficking in human beings (2012-2016).
priorities include setting up national law-enforcement units on
human trafficking and the creation of joint teams to investigate
cross-border trafficking cases.
3. Profile of trafficking
for forced labour
3.1. Patterns of human
Human trafficking consists of three basic components,
which are the perpetrator’s action (including recruitment and transportation),
the means (such as the threat or use of force or other forms of
coercion, or the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability),
and the purpose (which is exploitation).
The European Court of
Human Rights noted that human trafficking, by its very nature and
aim of exploitation, treats human beings as commodities to be bought
and sold and put to forced labour, and involves the use of violence
and threats against victims, who live and work under poor conditions.
Thus human trafficking means more than the organised movement
of persons for profit. Whereas smuggling of migrants is confined
to voluntary and unlawful cross-border transport of people in return
for direct or indirect financial or other material benefit, the
ultimate purpose of human trafficking is the exploitation of the individual
many victims of trafficking initiate contacts with traffickers,
despite being aware of the real conditions of their promised life
or “work” before reaching a destination. On the other hand, many
smuggled migrants end up in severe exploitation, although not having
initially been lured by false pretences. Consequently, “[a]n individual
can be smuggled one day and trafficked the next”.
21. Trafficking of migrant workers for forced labour generally
follows a three-stage pattern: recruitment, transportation and exploitation.
22. The recruitment phase often involves traffickers using means
of coercion, deception and sometimes even abduction. The deception
factor is important since it is this that distinguishes victims
of human trafficking for forced labour purposes from people who
simply work in poor conditions.
23. The transportation stage may involve criminal offences such
as forgery of documents, bribery of officials, and violation of
immigration and border control legislation, and coercion of victims,
illegal detention and confiscation of identity papers.
24. Although there is no authoritative interpretation of the term
“exploitation” on the international level, the exploitation phase
generally includes the following features: low or no pay; long/excessive
working hours; no paid leave/sick leave/breaks; virtually non-existent
safety arrangements and dangerous working conditions; sub-standard
housing; discrimination, physical and psychological threats, intimidation,
3.2. Activity sectors
25. Several sectors are particularly affected by this
phenomenon: these include the so-called “sex industry”, the agricultural
sector, the construction industry, the textile industry, the hotel
and catering sector, the manufacturing sector, domestic slavery
and servitude (including in diplomatic households) and forced begging.
As stated by Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, OSCE Special Representative
and Co-ordinator for combating trafficking in human beings, regarding
domestic slavery and servitude, “Trafficking for the purpose of
labour exploitation is commonly perceived as less invasive and damaging
than trafficking for sexual exploitation. While in some cases this
might be true, trafficking for domestic slavery or servitude is
often just as devastating an experience, with long-term and serious
consequences. … This invisible exploitation must become a concern for
all of us. It could be taking place next door, in our own social
Trafficking for domestic exploitation, which exists all over
the world, primarily affects women and girls, migrants and au pairs.
Like all forms of exploitation, domestic slavery and servitude are
difficult to detect, and the fact that the person exploited lives
in a private household makes such detection even harder. Victims generally
live in the house of the family that is exploiting them and are
therefore at their disposal and mercy night and day and are totally
dependent upon them. There is also disconcerting evidence of foreign
diplomats abusing their immunity to keep domestic workers in slave
chores they are given include cleaning, ironing, cooking and child-minding.
Often the victims receive almost no remuneration (or indeed no remuneration
at all), have excessive working hours, their identity papers are
confiscated and, in the best of cases, they have only limited freedom
of movement. Many are psychologically abused and constantly criticised and
humiliated and others are physically abused. Holidays and a private
life are non-existent.
28. The fight against domestic slavery and servitude has to overcome
a particular difficulty: the fact that there is no common definition
of domestic work and that there are different perceptions of this
phenomenon depending on the cultural context. Few States have regulated
this labour sector which, as it is often linked to the family concept,
is usually not covered by the existing legal frameworks. The fact
that domestic work is rarely recognised as work in its own right
makes this sector particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Furthermore,
since domestic work is carried out in the homes of private individuals,
labour inspectors have virtually no access. Lastly, the very few
cases of domestic slavery brought before the courts are rarely described
as cases of human trafficking, but rather as abuse of vulnerability,
undeclared employment or withholding of identity documents.
The new ILO Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic
Workers (ILO Convention on Domestic Workers)
basic rights and labour standards for domestic workers, including
daily and weekly rest hours, entitlement to minimum wage and to
choose the place where they live and spend their leave. States parties should
also take protection measures against violence and should enforce
a minimum age. In addition, workers have a right to a clear communication
of employment conditions which should in case of international recruitment
be communicated prior to immigration. The convention was adopted
in June 2011 and will enter into force in 2013 following its ratification
by the Philippines in August 2012.
3.3. European countries
countries of origin
countries of transit
countries of destination
||Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Republic of Moldova
3.4. Routes and means
30. Europol notes that the routes used by traffickers
vary considerably and are rapidly adapted to changes in demand and
any new obstacles.
When victims come from non-European countries, traffickers
appear to prefer air travel using forged documents. Europol states
that Chinese and Nigerian organised crime groups are proficient
in producing falsified documents. Often they make victims stay beyond
the period authorised by their visa. Sometimes, they abuse the asylum
system to get victims into the country. Victims are told to request
asylum once in the country, and then to abscond from the reception
centres for refugees and asylum-seekers in order to meet those exploiting
them as arranged.
32. The use of the Internet is rapidly expanding as a means of
3.5. Case examples
33. The following list of case examples regarding trafficking
of migrant workers for forced labour is far from exhaustive. The
majority of cases are not reported, as the victims – silenced by
inhumane conditions – have no access to the courts or fear reprisals.
34. In 2009, a network exploiting over 700 migrant workers from
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and “the former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia” on building sites was dismantled in Azerbaijan.
Several reports describe large-scale abuse of Slovak and Asian
workers in forests in the Czech Republic in 2009 and 2010. There
too, the work contracts were grossly misleading, accommodation conditions
appalling, hunger omnipresent and wages minimal if not non-existent.
36. According to the 2011 GRETA report, human trafficking for
forced labour was on the increase in Cyprus, in particular in the
farming and domestic work sectors.
Up to August 2009, over 1 000 Chinese workers were found to
have been victims of a trafficking ring which smuggled them into
Germany as “speciality cooks”. Once they arrived in the country,
their passports were confiscated and they were thrown into debt
bondage, unable to leave until they repaid the massive debt amounting
to €10 000 for obtaining a visa. In addition, their pay was illegally
docked to pay for their sub-standard accommodation, food and transport,
not to mention the fact that their pay was much lower than indicated
in their contracts.
In the Netherlands, an asparagus grower was arrested in 2010
for human trafficking and the economic exploitation of 40 people,
primarily Romanians, who were working on a farm in appalling conditions.
The Dutch trade union federation FNV said that this case was by
no means an exception.
In 2007, over 60 Tajik migrants were recruited by a local
employment agency to work for a construction company in Poland.
Once in the country the workers had to perform different work to
that for which they had been hired and they never received a salary.
The claim brought by the Bureau of Human Rights with the prosecutor’s
office against the employment agency did not bring any results.
According to an ILO report, a study carried out in 2008 in
the Republic of Moldova showed that 40% of Moldovan migrants had
been victims of exploitation in the countries of destination, and
almost 8% of all migrants had been victims of human trafficking
for forced labour.
The Scandinavian countries, although less exposed to this
phenomenon, are not immune. Several sectors, such as construction,
the catering sector, domestic work and berry-picking, have been
identified as areas where there is a risk of exploitation of irregular
42. The 2011 GRETA report on the Slovak Republic pointed out that
most of the 57 and 41 victims identified in 2008 and 2009 were subject
to transnational trafficking for forced labour purposes, particularly
for sexual exploitation, domestic slavery and forced begging.
43. In the first half of 2011, six foreign nationals were identified
as victims of sexual exploitation and forced labour in agriculture
in Romania. The 2012 GRETA report on the country highlighted that
Romanian nationals, including children, accounted for the vast majority
of victims and were subject to transnational trafficking towards
other European countries.
In October 2012, more than 30 Lithuanian workers were liberated
after allegedly being trafficked into the United Kingdom. They were
reportedly kept in debt bondage by a gangmaster company, forced
to work up to 17 hours a shift, bussed to chicken farms throughout
the country, sleeping for days at a time only in vans. In some weeks
they were not paid at all and kept under control by Lithuanian “enforcers”
with threats of violence and on occasion physical assault.
The ILO noted an increase in forced labour trafficking cases
in the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
In 2008, the Russian police
freed 49 irregular Uzbek migrants who were victims of exploitation
sorting onions in a village outside Moscow. They had not been paid,
were working 14 hours a day and their passports had been confiscated.
4. Prevention and
protection of victims
4.1. Who are the victims?
46. As stated above, traffickers use various methods
and networks to dupe their victims. However, we are not defenceless
against this criminal activity. It is our duty as legislators to
put in place measures and mechanisms to prevent human trafficking
and protect the victims.
47. First of all, it is essential to identify the victims, who
are a complex and varied group. It is clear that the very nature
of this crime does not make this task easy. This becomes even more
obvious when looking at Interpol’s estimate that only 5% to 10%
of cases become known to the authorities and an even smaller proportion
of the victims of human trafficking are identified.
The US Department of State estimates that, in 2011, the authorities
identified 41 210 victims of human trafficking worldwide and 10 185
victims in Europe.
49. According to Europol, within the European Union, forced labour
is largely associated with the illegal labour market and migrant
communities. Irregular migrants and forcibly displaced persons are
particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Most victims are women
While the general public’s and the authorities’ awareness
of the problem is increasing, the economic crisis and austerity
measures across Europe have created the conditions for trafficking
for forced labour to thrive, and the phenomenon is believed to be
increasing within the European Union itself. Europol observes that
these cases concern not only Poles, Lithuanians and Bulgarians,
but also Portuguese and British nationals.
The Roma, and primarily women and children, are particularly
vulnerable to exploitation, especially since the public authorities
are often indifferent to their fate in several European countries.
Exploited Roma children are often forced into begging. I have already
addressed this issue in my report on Roma migrants in Europe (Doc. 12950
). In Recommendation
adopted on the basis of this report, the Assembly called
on the Committee of Ministers to “analyse legislation and practices
in member States aimed at criminalising begging and evaluate the
impact of this on Roma and the implications under the European Convention
on Human Rights, the revised European Social Charter and other Council
of Europe standards”. It is regrettable that beggars are often viewed
by the public authorities more as a problem than as people who need
52. An unknown number of Chinese nationals are victims of forced
labour in Europe. They work mainly in catering or in “shops” or
small textile factories. Nigerians are also victims of trafficking
for forced labour, often in order to pay their debts for their entry
In many potential cases of trafficking for forced labour,
migration control measures prevail over anti-labour exploitation
measures. Although not all victims of trafficking are necessarily
undocumented workers, the exploited victims are often reluctant
to identify themselves for fear of being sent back to their country
of origin. An obvious example is the case of Dutch bus drivers who
contacted the police, because they suspected that they were transporting
victims of trafficking. As a consequence, a number of migrant women
were arrested and subsequently expelled. The issue of forced labour
was never investigated.
54. In most European countries, undocumented workers can have
access to the courts and the latter are not required to report irregular
migrants. Nonetheless, the threat that such a move can cause the
victim’s deportation is all too real. Moreover, the Anti-Trafficking
Convention stipulates that domestic law should provide for a recovery
and reflection period of at least 30 days to enable victims to recover
and escape the influence of traffickers. In this way, victims can,
in full knowledge of the facts, reach a decision on co-operating
with the competent authorities. The convention makes it clear that
during this period no deportation measure may be taken against them.
55. With regard to protecting victims, very often irregular migrants,
the question arises as to whether trafficking victim status provides
them with a legitimate right to stay in the host country. While
the co-operation of victims in investigations against traffickers
generally gives them a right of temporary residence, this right ends
once the investigations are complete and they then run the risk
of being deported. It is important to take into account the many
reasons why victims may legitimately fear returning to their country
of origin, and in particular the fear of reprisals by members of
criminal trafficking groups.
56. Co-operation of victims is an essential factor in effectively
combating human trafficking for forced labour. This is why we must
make every effort to ensure that victims are considered as such
and treated with respect, not as irregular migrants. Their access
to justice should be made easier and not made conditional on co-operation
with criminal investigations.
4.2. Labour market policy
57. Regulations, the introduction of permits, monitoring
and setting up arrangements for the surveillance of recruitment
activities are essential for protecting workers against abusive
and fraudulent practices which could lead to trafficking. Penalising
only the employer in cases of forced labour practices leaves the
trafficking network, comprising recruiters and associates, intact.
58. Legislation and other appropriate measures are required to
ensure that all types of recruiters and associates can be monitored
59. Clearly, efforts should be focused on promoting decent work,
but it is also important to encourage workers’ self-organisation
and representation. To this end, it is essential to provide information
on workers’ rights and on the procedures for reporting abuse and
suspected cases of forced labour. A much stronger and more active
commitment is required to ensure full freedom of association and
to facilitate the establishment of complaint procedures which are
available and accessible to all workers, whatever their status.
Labour inspectors have a key role to play in detecting cases of
trafficking and exploitation. They have resources at their disposal
which go beyond those of the police, especially as they are able,
at any time and without prior notification, to visit all work places
for inspection. In addition, employment agencies need to be associated
in actions against human trafficking. Trade unions are also key
players in the detection and prosecution of cases of trafficking
of migrants for forced labour.
4.3. Migration policy
60. If the migration policies in place are restrictive
and if would-be immigrants are not well-informed about legal immigration
channels and opportunities for working abroad, these individuals
become easy prey for traffickers. Migrants, especially women, are
often employed in low-skilled and deregulated sectors which are particularly
vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Moreover, the policy of criminalising the irregular entry
and presence of migrants in Europe has an adverse effect on the
readiness of victims to co-operate with the authorities since not
only do they fear being deported, they also fear prosecution. The
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights expressed his concern
regarding the trend to use a “language of criminalisation” and criminal
law sanctions to control immigration and punish individuals and
businesses which engage with irregular migrants.
confirms and reinforces the negative image of irregular migrants,
who are viewed as criminals simply because of their “irregular”
62. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights
of migrants goes further, stating that irregular immigration prevention
policies can have the side effect of encouraging the expansion of
trafficking and smuggling networks.
4.4. Social support
and inclusion of victims
At present, the provision in the Anti-Trafficking
Convention whereby “assistance to a victim is not made conditional
on his or her willingness to act as a witness” is only rarely applied
when the migration status is an issue. GRETA’s evaluation reports
generally urge authorities to ensure that assistance measures provided
for in law are not, in practice, made dependent on the victim’s
readiness to co-operate with law enforcement agencies.
64. The repatriation of the victim following the criminal trial
(even in cases where the victim has initiated proceedings, commenced
rehabilitation or co-operated with the judicial authorities) does
not encourage victims to come forward and report their exploiters,
and may ultimately lead to renewed trafficking.
65. In most countries, trafficking victims are given virtually
no support, whether in terms of medical care, accommodation, transport,
interpreting or legal aid and advice. Where such services are available,
they are generally geared to victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
66. In many countries, there is limited or no labour inspection
for the agricultural sector. Even where workplaces are subject to
regular visits, inspectors do not always speak the appropriate language
to communicate with workers, or the latter are given no opportunity
to speak in private with the inspectors. Labour inspectors are well
placed to both help identify victims and directly or indirectly
support them through their work.
4.5. Examples of good
practice in preventing human trafficking and protecting victims
The following examples, including action by the authorities,
by trade unions and by NGOs, can be highlighted as good practice
in terms of preventing human trafficking and protecting victims.
Belgium and Italy can serve as models in this sphere, as these
countries recognise the victim status of migrants who have been
subjected to human trafficking and issue temporary residence permits
so as to enable them to file and pursue a complaint against those
who have exploited them.
can also obtain a long-term residence permit – which is not subject
to agreeing to co-operate with the judicial authorities – where
there is a threat to the safety of the victims.
The National Anti-Human Trafficking Agency published a practical
guidebook on conducting prevention campaigns and in 2011 organised
more than 1 250 events in Romania to raise awareness of human trafficking in
The Armenian trade union confederation has produced a leaflet
entitled “Beware of tempting offers” containing basic information
for those considering migrating for employment, setting out the
rules to be complied with before accepting a job.
The Spanish trade union confederation
has taken several steps to defend the rights of migrants, in particular
by opening information centres for migrant workers, providing them with,
amongst other things, legal advice and language courses. Undocumented
workers may also visit these centres and benefit from their services.
In the United Kingdom, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) informs migrant
workers about their rights in a leaflet entitled “Working in the
United Kingdom: your rights”, available in several languages,
and has launched a website in Polish
containing this information for potential migrants to the United
The International Trade Union Confederation
has published a best practices manual for trade unions entitled
“How to combat forced labour and trafficking”.
The Irish Migrant Rights Centre (IMRC) has published a leaflet
entitled “Facts about migrant workers in Ireland” with the aim of
providing society with accurate information so as to combat prejudice.
The association ORCA (Organisation for Irregular Migrants) publishes
a guide to migrant workers’ rights in Belgium, in several languages.
The Belgian NGO Payoke is helping
to identify trafficking victims. Together with the NGOs Pag-asa
and Sürya, it informs victims about their status and can request
residence permits for victims and help them in judicial proceedings.
5.1. Who are the perpetrators?
Europol observes that as trafficking is one of the
most lucrative forms of criminal activity, it attracts all levels
of criminal groups from small-scale criminals to large international
organised crime networks. Certain aspects of trafficking in Europe
are largely supported by Russian and Albanian gangs and by the Italian mafia,
Roma, Nigerians, Romanians, Chinese, Hungarians, Bulgarians and
Turks are also involved.
In addition, an increasing number of women
are active in trafficking networks.
Mostly, human trafficking is not the only activity carried
out by these groups, which tend to engage in other criminal activities,
including trafficking in arms and narcotics.
The organised crime groups
involved in human trafficking co-operate with groups in other countries.
74. The criminals, or criminal groups, have different roles. Some
are in charge of recruitment, others transport, forging documents,
bribing the authorities responsible for controls, managing “accommodation”
or collecting and distributing the profits. According to Europol,
their methods have become less violent than in the past.
75. These criminal networks or individuals take advantage of the
loopholes in national migration policies, combining legal and illegal
activities. Despite growing awareness of the reality of trafficking
for forced labour, this activity remains a low-risk criminal enterprise
which can bring in high profits.
76. In addition to the need for increased prosecution and punishment
of traffickers, it is important to reach the end-users of trafficking
who are employing and exploiting migrant workers. Trafficking would
not prosper if there was no demand. Sometimes, the perpetrators
of trafficking and exploitation are single individuals, as is often
the case with domestic slavery and servitude.
77. It is important to stress that traffickers would not be so
“effective” in their dealings without the systematic support of
corrupt officials (for example, at border controls and also in the
context of victim protection programmes during criminal investigations).
The OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking
in Human Beings quite rightly stated in her 2010 annual report that
this aspect has been underestimated and she made a clear link between
the countries rated among the most corrupt in Transparency International’s
Corruption Perception Index and the major suppliers of trafficking
victims. There should be studies into the link between corruption
and trafficking in order to understand the extent of the role it
plays in this criminal activity. Furthermore action needs to be
taken against officials involved in this and any form of corruption.
5.2. The positive obligation
to investigate and prosecute
The Anti-Trafficking Convention seeks to have treated
as criminal offences human trafficking, the use, with full knowledge,
of services of a victim of trafficking and acts relating to travel
or identity documents. It also provides for sanctions that are “effective,
proportionate and dissuasive”.
Importantly, the convention contains an obligation to provide
for the possibility not to impose penalties on victims for their
involvement in unlawful activities (non-punishment provision) and
enables the authorities to investigate and prosecute offences under
the Convention without the necessity of a complaint from the victim. In
addition, authorities must take the necessary measures to provide
effective and appropriate protection to victims (including during
court proceedings), collaborators with the judicial authorities,
witnesses and members of their families.
principles were also included in the provisions of the European
Union Anti-Trafficking Directive, which clearly states that trafficking
victims shall not be prosecuted.
The European Court of Human Rights, in its jurisprudence,
goes a step further and its decisions are of crucial importance
for the comprehensive anti-trafficking action within Europe. In
its judgments in the cases of Siliadin v. France
and Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia
Court held that member States have a positive obligation under Article
4 to put into place an adequate legislative and administrative framework
to penalise and effectively prosecute servitude and forced labour,
and to conduct an effective investigation into instances of potential
exploitation once the matter has come to the attention of the authorities.
approach was confirmed in the recent C.N.
and V. v. France
5.3. Statistics on prosecutions
81. While the profits to be derived from human trafficking
are considerable, it is rare for the perpetrators to be identified
and consequently convicted.
According to US State Department estimates, in 2011, worldwide
there were 7 206 prosecutions and 4 239 convictions for human trafficking,
and 508 prosecutions and 320 convictions for forced labour trafficking. The
figures within Europe were 3 162 prosecutions and 1 601 convictions
for human trafficking, and 271 prosecutions and 81 convictions for
forced labour trafficking.
83. The relatively small number of prosecutions and convictions
for trafficking for forced labour seems to be at odds with the huge
number of estimated victims. One of the problems derives from the
fact that human trafficking is often “hidden” behind other criminal
activities such as prostitution, irregular migration, etc., with the
result that many cases, even where they are identified, are not
prosecuted under the charge of trafficking.
However, in the absence of any standardised guidelines for
data collection at European and international level, there are no
global statistics on prosecutions for trafficking migrants.
5.4. Examples of good
practice in the field of prosecution
85. The following examples of good practice show actions
by the authorities and NGOs in terms of prosecution of perpetrators
and access to compensation for victims.
By way of example, Belgian courts convicted a Chinese couple
for the exploitation and trafficking of two Chinese migrant workers
on the building site of their future restaurant and two people for
economically exploiting a Turkish irregular migrant in their bakery.
87. Operation GOLF, jointly carried out by Europol and the British
and Romanian police between 2007 and 2010 and co-financed by the
European Union, led to the arrest of 126 people for trafficking
and exploiting Romanian Roma children. A total of 272 victims were
88. Following the amendment of the Criminal Code to prohibit trafficking
for both exploitation in the sex trade and forced labour, there
has been an increase in prosecutions and convictions in the Russian
Federation (in 2007, 139 investigations into trafficking cases took
place, of which 35 related to forced labour). There has also been
an increase in the number of investigations in Ukraine (three investigations
in 2006, 23 in 2007).
89. In Romania, an integrated national human trafficking monitoring
and evaluation system has been set up. The national anti-human trafficking
agency has created a database for the police containing information
on victims. In addition, effective sentences of traffickers went
up in 2011, showing both victims and perpetrators that the latter
are not untouchable.
In 2010, Strada International and Anti-Slavery International
launched a project in 14 European countries to improve access to
compensation for victims of trafficking.
91. Human trafficking has become a real pandemic affecting
virtually every country in the world, either as a country of origin,
transit or destination.
92. The international community and States have in recent years
recognised the scale of the problem of trafficking for forced labour
purposes. Numerous pieces of legislation have been adopted, and
judges and prosecutors have been familiarised with this crime.
93. However, the problem persists and even increases. The considerable
profits obtained by traffickers and exploiters are in themselves
sufficient motivation to run the risks and to adapt their operation
to overcome new obstacles. There are many and varied players, sources
and victims, and demand is high.
94. The effective abolition of forced labour remains a challenge
for Europe. The economic crisis reinforces the already significant
vulnerability of irregular migrants and increases still further
the number of migrants trafficked for this purpose. They are the
ideal prey for unscrupulous traffickers who make them pay for their travel
to Europe, via unlawful means, delivering them on their arrival
to those who will exploit them.
95. We must not be naïve or deny what is happening. Our own countries
are affected. The examples cited in this report, which are far from
exhaustive, show this to be the case.
The fight against human trafficking can be won only if we
work together, and not only in Europe, by adopting a holistic and
proactive approach. The GRETA President emphasised the importance
of empowerment strategies for victims for successfully fighting
The solution is also to be found
in a genuine capacity to constantly assess and re-assess the challenges
we have to face, in particular by examining the impact of migration
and labour policies on the protection of trafficking victims and
on preventing this phenomenon.
97. While many States have adopted action plans to combat trafficking
and have set up specialist units for this purpose, there are obvious
shortcomings in this fight. There is still a dire lack of information
and reliable statistics on the nature of trafficking, its victims,
the perpetrators and their constantly evolving modi operandi. A
better understanding would enable us to develop new, more appropriate
prevention, prosecution and protection methods.
98. We must also take steps to promote decent work for all and
strengthen the rights of workers in both countries of origin and
of destination. Migrant workers are all too often in a vulnerable
position and dependent on their employer. The more dependent they
are, the more exposed they are to exploitation. This is particularly the
case of victims of domestic slavery and servitude.
99. Our main challenge is to manage migration humanely and in
such a way as to prevent exploitation. To this end we must firstly
continue to tackle the main causes of migration, including irregular
migration, namely poverty and wars or situations of armed conflict
and generalised violence. Secondly, we must provide appropriate
information to potential migrants. Thirdly, we need to take into
account the gender perspective in providing assistance to victims.
Fourthly, we must strengthen the role of labour inspectors and unions
in the sectors which are likely to resort to forced labour, and,
fifthly, step up co-operation, including cross-border co-operation,
between the law enforcement authorities.