Category Archives: Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings

Trafficking in human beings, for whatever reason – sexual exploitation or work – is a violation of fundamental human rights. Because it affects vulnerable groups such as women and children in particular, the European Union has focused its action on objectives aiming to protect these groups and to prevent and combat this phenomenon, especially by strengthening cooperation and coordination between the police and judicial authorities of the Member States. Likewise, the EU is introducing a framework of common provisions in order to tackle certain issues, such as criminalisation and penalties or aggravating circumstances in the case of trafficking in human beings. The action of the EU, which in this way is also designed to protect the victims of trafficking, is based on instruments defining its objectives and priorities, but it is also integrated in a broader context of protection against violence, sexual tourism and child pornography.

Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings

Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings

This Decision sets up a group of experts to provide the European Commission with expertise in preventing and fighting trafficking in human beings.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Decision 2003/209/EC of 25 March 2003 setting up a consultative group to be known as the “Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings”.

Summary

Trafficking in human beings is a serious violation of human rights. Since 1996, the European Union (EU) has taken a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to the fight against this phenomenon by adopting various legal instruments such as the Framework-Decision 2002/629/JHA) and a series of programmes including:

  • A programme of incentives and exchanges for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (STOP I and II);
  • A programme on preventive measures to fight violence against children, young people and women (DAPHNE Programme);
  • A framework programme on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (AGIS).

As part of the STOP II programme, in September 2002, the European Commission, in conjunction with the International Organisations for Migration (IOM) and the European Parliament, organised the European Conference on Preventing and Combating Traffic in Human Beings – Global Challenge for the 21st Century.

The final result of the Conference is the Brussels Declarationwhich states that “trafficking in human beings is an abhorrent and worrying phenomenon involving coercive sexual exploitation, labour conditions akin to slavery, exploitation in begging and juvenile delinquency as well as domestic servitude”.

The recommendations attached to the Declaration call for an experts group to be set up to consolidate and develop the validity and performance of standards and best practices of the counter trafficking policy.

Provisions relating to the experts group

The Experts Group will take the form of a consultative group in accordance with current practice in other areas. The aim is to provide the European Commission with expertise in the shape of opinions or reports relating to the prevention of and the fight against trafficking in human beings. The group is required to submit a report within nine months of being set up, to enable the Commission to launch new initiatives at European level.

The group will consist of experts in the fight against trafficking in human beings. They must have acquired experience from activities in entities involved in the fight against trafficking in human beings. They will be appointed by the Commission by a procedure involving all the actors concerned. There will be no remuneration.

For the sake of balance, the number of experts in the group is set at 20 including seven from the administrations of EU Member States, four from the administrations of the candidate countries and nine from inter-governmental, international and non-governmental organisations engaged in activities at European level with proven competence and experience in the fight against trafficking in human beings.

The one-year term of office may be renewed. The decision to renew the term of office will be taken on the basis of the results obtained by the group.

Activities of the group

In order to fulfil its mission, the experts group may set up ad hoc working parties comprising eight members at most.

The experts’ opinions and reports are transmitted to the Commission, which can publish them on the Internet. If these documents are unanimously adopted by the group, it may establish common conclusions

Additional experts

Under the decision, the experts group can invite official representatives of the Member States, candidate countries or third countries and of international, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations to hold a dialogue at an early stage between the States and organisations which will have to implement future measures possibly based on the group’s recommendations.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2003/209/EC 26.3.2003 – 16.10.2007 OJ L 79 of 26.3.2003

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2007/675/EC of 17 October 2007 setting up the Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings [Official Journal L 277 of 20.10.2007].

This Decision repeals Decision 2003/209/EC as of 17 October 2007.

Protocol against the trafficking of people

Protocol against the trafficking of people

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protocol against the trafficking of people

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Protocol against the trafficking of people

Document or Iniciative

Council Decisions 2006/618/EC and 2006/619/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Summary

With these decisions the Council ratifies, on behalf of the European Union (EU), the Protocol on trafficking in persons supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 15 November 2000. Annex II to the decisions specifies the competence of the European Community with regard to matters governed by the Protocol.

The purposes of the Protocol are:

  • to prevent and combat transnational trafficking in persons *, especially women and children *, by organised criminal groups;
  • to protect and assist the victims of exploitation *;
  • to promote cooperation among countries in this domain.

Each signatory State is required to adopt the necessary legislative and other measures to establish as criminal offences the acts defined as trafficking in persons, including acting as an accomplice in such acts.

Disputes between the signatory States concerning the interpretation or application of this Protocol should be settled by negotiation and, failing that, by arbitration. In the latter case, if an arrangement has not been made within six months, any of those States may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Preventing trafficking in persons

The signatory States should adopt measures to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, in cooperation with relevant civil society organisations. These measures might include information and media campaigns and social and economic initiatives.
It is also important to address the factors that render people vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Protecting victims

The signatory States must protect the privacy and identity of victims of trafficking and provide them with information on relevant court and administrative proceedings. They are also required to provide for their physical, psychological and social recovery, for example by providing housing, appropriate care, and employment, educational and training opportunities.
They must allow victims of trafficking to remain in their territory, temporarily or permanently, giving appropriate consideration to humanitarian and compassionate factors. These persons must also be assisted to return to their country of origin or to reach another country, with due regard for their safety.

Cooperation

The relevant services of the signatory States should exchange information on the types of travel documents that are used for the purpose of trafficking in persons, and the means and methods used by organised criminal groups for this purpose. Cooperation between the border control services of the signatory States should also be strengthened.

Background

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 15 November 2000, came into force on 23 September 2003.
It is supplemented by three Protocols: the Protocol against trafficking in persons, which came into force on 25 December 2003, the Protocol against the smuggling of migrants by land, air and sea, which came into force on 28 January 2004, and the Protocol against the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in firearms, which came into force on 3 July 2005.

Key terms used in the act
  • Trafficking in persons: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.
  • Exploitation: exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
  • Child: any person under 18 years of age.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Decisions 2006/618/EE and 2006/619/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2003/0197] 24.7.2007 OJ L 262 of 22.9.2006

Related Acts

Council Decision 2004/579/EC of 29 April 2004 on the conclusion, on the behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime [Official Journal L 261 of 6.8.2004].

Council Decisions 2006/616/EC and 2006/617/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime [Official Journal L 262 of 22.9.2006].

Council Decision 2001/748/EC of 16 October 2001 on signing on behalf of the European Community of the Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts, components and ammunition, annexed to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime [Official Journal L 280 of 24.10.2001].

Fight against trafficking in human beings

Fight against trafficking in human beings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fight against trafficking in human beings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Fight against trafficking in human beings

Trafficking in human beings, for whatever reason – sexual exploitation or work – is a violation of fundamental human rights. Because it affects vulnerable groups such as women and children in particular, the European Union has focused its action on objectives aiming to protect these groups and to prevent and combat this phenomenon, especially by strengthening cooperation and coordination between the police and judicial authorities of the Member States. Likewise, the EU is introducing a framework of common provisions in order to tackle certain issues, such as criminalisation and penalties or aggravating circumstances in the case of trafficking in human beings. The action of the EU, which in this way is also designed to protect the victims of trafficking, is based on instruments defining its objectives and priorities, but it is also integrated in a broader context of protection against violence, sexual tourism and child pornography.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK

  • Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings
  • Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Combating violence towards children, adolescents and women: Daphne III programme (2007-2013)
  • Protocol against the trafficking of people
  • Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea
  • Residence permit for victims of human trafficking
  • Plan on best practices, standards and procedures
  • The external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice
  • Combating trafficking in human beings
  • Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Action to prevent violence against children, young people and women: the DAPHNE II programme (2004-08)
  • Action to combat violence against children, young persons and women: the Daphne programme
  • STOP II
  • Incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (STOP)

THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN

  • Combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
  • Safer Internet programme 2009-13
  • Combating child pornography on the Internet
  • Combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
  • Search for missing or sexually exploited children
  • Action plan on unaccompanied minors (2010-14)
  • Protecting children in the digital world
  • Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child
  • Combating trafficking in human beings, the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
  • The implementation of measures to combat child sex tourism
  • Combating child sex tourism

THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN

  • New measures to combat trafficking in women
  • Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation

Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings

Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA [OJ L 101 of 15.4.2011].

Summary

Trafficking in human beings is globally considered to be one of the most serious of criminal offences. It constitutes a violation against human rights and is a modern form of slavery. The new Directive adopted by the European Union (EU) defines the minimum common rules for identifying and sanctioning offences of trafficking in human beings.

Definitions

The following are considered as punishable acts: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons, including the exchange or transfer of control over those persons, for the purpose of exploitation.

Exploitation shall include, as a minimum:

  • exploitation for prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation;
  • forced labour or services (including begging, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, exploitation for criminal activities, or the removal of organs).

Exploitation exists when a constraint has been exerted on a person (by means of threat or use of force, abduction, fraud, deception, etc.), whether or not the victim has given his/her consent.

When the victim is a child (a person below 18 years of age), these acts of exploitation are automatically deemed to be an offence of trafficking in human beings, even if none of the means of constraint set forth in the paragraph above has been used.

Penalties

Incitement to undertake trafficking in human beings, as well as the aiding and abetting, and attempt to do so shall be punishable.

The Directive sets the maximum penalty for these offences to at least five years of imprisonment and to at least ten years when the following aggravating circumstances can be identified:

  • the offence was committed against a victim who was particularly vulnerable (children always come under this category);
  • the offence was committed within the framework of a criminal organisation;
  • the offence deliberately or by gross negligence endangered the life of the victim;
  • the offence was committed by use of serious violence or has caused particularly serious harm to the victim.

Legal persons can also be held liable if the offences are committed for their benefit by a person who has a leading position. The same applies if a lack of supervision or control on the part of this person enabled another person placed under his/her authority to commit these offences.

Penalties against legal persons include criminal and non-criminal fines, and other sanctions such as placing them under judicial supervision, or judicial winding-up.

Member States may decide not to prosecute or impose penalties on victims of trafficking in human beings for their involvement in criminal activities which they have been compelled to commit.

With regard to the prosecution of offenders, the Directive provides for the possibility for Member States to prosecute their nationals for offences committed in another EU country and to use the same means of investigation as usually used for combating organised crime, such as phone tapping.

Assistance, support and protection for victims

Member States must ensure that assistance and support are provided to victims before, during and after criminal proceedings in order to enable them to exercise the rights conferred upon them by the standing of victims in criminal proceedings. In particular, this support may consist of the provision of accommodation, medical treatment including psychological assistance, as well as information, and interpretation and translation services, if necessary. As particularly vulnerable victims, children must receive additional measures such as physical and psycho-social assistance, access to education, and, where appropriate, the option to appoint a guardian or a representative.

During the investigation and criminal proceedings, victims must receive appropriate protection including access to legal counselling and representation, free of charge if necessary, and access to a witness protection programme, where appropriate. Any further trauma to the victim should be avoided, for example by sparing him/her any contact with the accused. Children must benefit from specific measures, particularly concerning the conditions of their hearings. Specifically, they will be interviewed without delay, in adapted premises, and by professionals trained for that purpose.

Victims of trafficking in human beings must have access to compensation for victims of violent crimes of intent.

Prevention

In order to prevent trafficking in human beings, the Directive requests that Member States:

  • discourage demand through education and training;
  • lead information and awareness-raising campaigns;
  • train the officials likely to come into contact with victims of trafficking;
  • take the necessary measures to establish as a criminal offence the use of services, sexual or other, of a person who is a victim of trafficking.

The position of a European anti-trafficking Coordinator is established in order to ensure a consistent approach to combating this phenomenon in the EU.

Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Directive.

Context

Trafficking in human beings is explicitly prohibited by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the EU has made combating this phenomenon one of the priorities of the Stockholm Programme.

This new Directive replaces Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA on combating trafficking in human beings. It adopts a wider definition of this phenomenon by including other forms of exploitation.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2011/36/EU 15.4.2011 6.4.2013 OJ L 101 of 15.4.2011

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: The EU strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 [COM(2012) 286 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Communication presents a strategy designed to focus on concrete measures that will support the transposition and implementation of Directive 2011/36/EU, bring added value and complement the work done by governments, international organisations and civil society both in EU and non-EU countries. The strategy identifies the following five priorities for the EU to focus on:

  • identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking;
  • stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings;
  • increased prosecution of traffickers;
  • enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence;
  • increased knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings.

Within the above priorities, the Communication outlines a number of actions which the European Commission proposes to implement over the next five years, alongside EU countries, European External Action Service, EU institutions, EU agencies, international organisations, non-EU countries civil society and the private sector.

Commission Decision 2007/675/EC of 17 October 2007 setting up the Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings [OJ L 277 of 20.10.2007].

EU plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing trafficking in human beings [Official Journal C 311 of 9.12.2005].

Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings

Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings

Document or Iniciative

Commission Decision 2011/502/EU of 10 August 2011 on setting up the Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings and repealing Decision 2007/675/EC [OJ L 207 of 12.8.2011].

Summary

This Decision establishes a Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings responsible for advising the European Commission on all anti-trafficking matters.

The Group’s main tasks are:

  • to provide the Commission with written contributions on matters related to trafficking in human beings, ensuring a coherent approach to the subject;
  • to help the Commission to assess the evolution of policy in the field at national, European and international levels, and to identify possible measures;
  • to provide a forum for discussion on matters related to trafficking in human beings.

The group shall be composed of fifteen members appointed by the Commission for four years on the basis of a call for applications. Its members shall be individuals with expertise and experience in the prevention of and fight against trafficking in human beings. They shall be citizens of a Member State of the European Union (EU), a candidate or potential candidate country or a European Economic Area country.

The group shall be chaired by the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. Experts and observers may be invited to participate in meetings.

Neither group members nor experts and observers will receive any remuneration for their services.

Context

Set up in 2003, the group has enabled the Commission to develop its anti-trafficking policy. This Decision repeals the previous Decision establishing the group of experts, in order to take account of the new European Directive on the prevention of and fight against trafficking in human beings and the creation of the position of EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. The latter has the task of improving the coordination of action at European, national and international levels and of participating in the development of EU policies in the field of anti-trafficking.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2011/502/EU

1.9.2011

OJ L 207, 12.8.2011

Combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

Combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, and child pornography, replacing the Council Framework- Decision 2004/68/JHA.

Summary

This Directive harmonises throughout the European Union (EU) criminal offences relating to sexual abuse committed against children, the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. It also lays down the minimum sanctions. The new rules also include provisions aimed at combating child pornography on-line and sex tourism. Furthermore, it aims to prevent paedophiles already convicted of an offence from exercising professional activities involving regular contact with children.

Offences and sanctions

Some twenty criminal offences are identified by the Directive divided into four categories:

  • sexual abuse, such as engaging in sexual activities with a child who has not reached the age of sexual consent or forcing them to submit to such activities with another person;
  • sexual exploitation, such as, for example, coercing a child to engage in prostitution or to participate in pornographic performances;
  • child pornography: , possessing, accessing, distributing, supplying or producing child pornography;
  • the solicitation of children on-line for sexual purposes: , proposing, via the Internet, to meet a child for the purpose of committing sexual abuse and, through the same means, soliciting the child to provide pornographic material of themselves.

At national level, the maximum terms of imprisonment must, at the least, meet certain thresholds ranging from one to ten years depending on the seriousness of the offence and depending on whether or not the child has reached the age of sexual consent. Incitement to commit an offence is also punishable.

A legal person may be held liable and sanctioned if the offence is committed for their benefit by a person who has decision-making powers. .

Several aggravating circumstances are provided for, specifically when the offence is committed against a particularly vulnerable child, or by a member of the child’s family, or where a person has abused a position of trust or authority, or also where the offender has previously been convicted of offences of the same nature

With regard to consensual sexual activities, the Directive leaves it to the discretion of Member States to decide whether or not certain practices are punishable where they involve persons who are close in age and in their degree of psychological and physical development or maturity, and which may be regarded as the normal discovery of sexuality.

Professional activities involving contact with children

In order to avoid any risk of recidivism, a person convicted for one of the offences defined by this Directive must be prevented from exercising employment involving direct and regular contact with children.. The employers concerned must be able to request information on the existence of a conviction or a disqualification from exercising this type of employment. This information must also be sent to other Member States in order to prevent a paedophile from taking advantage of the free movement of workers within the EU by working with children in another country.

Sex tourism

The organisation of trips aimed at committing acts of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children, and also child pornography, must also be banned. As these crimes often go unpunished in the countries where they took place, this Directive provides that Member States can try their citizens for offences of this type committed abroad.

Furthermore, along with their competency when an offence is committed on their territory or by one of their nationals, Member States may also extend their competency to offences committed abroad when the offender of the crime regularly resides in their territory, or if the offence has been committed on behalf of a legal person established in their territory, and also when the victim is one of their citizens.

Child pornography on the Internet

Member States must also ensure that child pornography sites hosted within their territory are promptly removed and must strive to remove those hosted abroad. Furthermore, under certain conditions regarding transparency and Internet user information, they have the possibility to block access to these sites in their territory.

Investigations, prosecutions and competencies

Investigations and prosecutions concerning offences must not solely depend on a report or accusation being made by the victim, and criminal proceedings must be able to continue even if that person has withdrawn his or her statement.. Furthermore, for the most serious offences, prosecutions must be possible for a sufficient period of time after the victim has reached the age of majority.

Assistance, support and protection for victims

In accordance with the provisions provided for by the Directive on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings, assistance and support must be provided to victims before, during and after criminal proceedings.. Child victims of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or child pornography are considered as particularly vulnerable victims and must be treated in a manner which is most appropriate to their situation.

Specific protective measures will be taken, in particular, when the offender is a member of the child’s family. In addition, young victims must have, without delay, access to free-of-charge legal advice and representation, if required. Furthermore, the assistance and support provided must not depend on their willingness to cooperate in the investigation or the legal proceedings.

Prevention

Specific programmes aimed at reducing the risks of recidivism must be proposed to persons convicted or prosecuted for sexual offences against children. These persons must also be assessed to determine the danger they pose and the risks of recidivism.

Context

This Directive replaces Framework-Decision 2004/68/JHA. Given that some victims of human trafficking are also child victims of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, this Directive also supplements the Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2011/93/EU

17.12.2011

18.12.2013

OJ L 335 of 17.12.2011

Plan on best practices, standards and procedures

Plan on best practices, standards and procedures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Plan on best practices, standards and procedures

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Plan on best practices, standards and procedures

Document or Iniciative

EU plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing trafficking in human beings [Official Journal C 311 of 9.12.2005].

Summary

The Hague Programme, adopted by the European Council in November 2004, invited the Commission and the Council to establish a plan in 2005 for developing common standards, best practices and mechanisms to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings.

General principles governing implementation of the action plan

In the communication to the Parliament and the Council of 18 October 2005 on fighting trafficking in human beings, the Commission laid down the specific means necessary for developing an integrated approach to tackling trafficking in human beings. This approach is based on respect for human rights and a coordinated policy response, notably in the areas of freedom, security and justice, external relations, development cooperation, social affairs and employment, gender equality and non-discrimination.

It is vital to improve our collective understanding of the issues involved in human trafficking. In particular, it is important to understand its root causes in the countries of origin and the factors that facilitate its development in the countries of destination, as well as its links with other forms of crime. In order to improve our knowledge of the scale and nature of this phenomenon as it concerns the European Union (EU), common guidelines need to be developed by autumn 2006 on the collection of data, including comparable indicators. A common research template needs to be developed for EU countries in order to increase research in specific areas, starting with child trafficking.

The EU recognises that it is indispensable to ensure that the human rights of victims of human trafficking are respected at every stage of the process. EU countries should set up an appropriate governmental coordination structure to evaluate and coordinate national policies and to ensure that the victims are treated appropriately.

EU countries and the Commission should implement policies that reinforce the criminalisation of human trafficking, protecting vulnerable groups such as women and children in particular.

The EU’s policy in this area should aim for a child’s rights approach based on internationally recognised principles. In particular, the policy should respect the principles set out in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and take account of the Council of Europe Action Programme on Children and Violence (2006-08).

Gender-specific strategies should be adopted as a key element in combating trafficking in women and girls. This includes implementing gender equality principles and eliminating demand for all forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation and domestic labour exploitation.

A number of actions to prevent trafficking in human beings will be taken by the end of 2006. For example, EU campaign materials will be prepared to raise awareness of the dangers involved and to publicise crime prevention and criminal justice in order to deter traffickers. A network of media contacts will be created on trafficking to raise public awareness of successes within and outside the EU.

Human trafficking is a serious crime against persons that must be addressed as a clear law enforcement priority. It must be converted from a “low risk/high reward enterprise for organised crime” into a high risk/low reward activity. The EU should step up its operations to ensure that trafficking in human beings does not generate any economic advantage and, where profits are made, to seize and confiscate all of them.

There should be increased cooperation with the agencies responsible for the control of working conditions and for financial investigations related to irregular labour in order to combat human trafficking for labour exploitation.

In the same way, the law enforcement agencies need to work more with Europol, which should regularly participate in exchanges of information, joint operations and joint investigative teams. Eurojust should also be consulted to facilitate the prosecution of traffickers.

Strategies to combat human trafficking should be coordinated with strategies to combat corruption and poverty. Employers’ organisations, trade unions and civil society organisations active in this field should also cooperate with the public authorities. EU countries and institutions must continue to cooperate with the relevant international organisations, such as the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

Regional solutions for the prevention of trafficking in human beings and the protection of its victims are essential. EU countries and the Commission should make greater efforts to promote regional initiatives that supplement and inspire cooperation at EU level.

This action plan will be revised and updated regularly. The annexed table of actions will facilitate regular evaluation and updates.

Related Acts

Commission working document of 17 October 2008 – Evaluation and monitoring of the implementation of the EU plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing trafficking in human beings [COM(2008) 657 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report provides an overview of the implementation of anti-trafficking measures in the EU countries and Norway, as well as by the EU bodies.
The approximation of EU countries’ anti-trafficking legislation has proceeded rapidly in the past years, especially with regard to criminal law and victim assistance. However, there are large inconsistencies between adopting and implementing legislation. Furthermore, the Commission is contemplating the revision of the framework decision on trafficking. In this manner, the support mechanisms for victims will also be made more effective. The law enforcement and judicial cooperation at an international level has increased as well; nevertheless, more efforts need to be made. Government coordination mechanisms are also now set up, but work needs to still be done on monitoring systems.
The relevant EU bodies have also taken steps to implement certain anti-trafficking measures. Yet, considerable weaknesses still exist in practice and some measures remain to be implemented altogether.
In continuing with the EU anti-trafficking policy, the Commission is proposing that, in the short term, efforts be concentrated on the following crucial actions:

  • the establishment of National Rapporteurs, especially for monitoring purposes;
  • the creation or improvement of national mechanisms for the identification of and referral to victim support services;
  • the creation or improvement of child protection systems;
  • the provision of support, including financial, to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field;
  • the organisation of trainings for relevant stakeholders;
  • the improvement of coordination of investigations and prosecutions;
  • the further development of cooperation on anti-trafficking measures with the EU’s external partner countries.

The outcomes of this plan will be used as the basis for a new post-2009 strategy.

Incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children

Incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (STOP)

1) Objective

To establish a programme for exchanging information between member States on trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children.

2) Document or Iniciative

Joint action 96/700/JHA, of 29 November 1996, adopted by the Council pursuant to Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, establishing an incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children [Official Journal L 322, 12.12.1996].

3) Summary

The object of the joint action for the period 1996 – 2000 now under way is to establish a programme to develop coordinated initiatives on the combating of trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children, on disappearances of minors and on the use of telecommunications facilities for the purposes of trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children.

For the purposes of this joint action, “persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children” shall mean the following categories of persons inasmuch as they have responsibilities in the area concerned: judges, public prosecutors, police departments, civil servants, public services concerned with immigration and border controls and with social and tax legislation, the prevention or combating of such phenomena and assisting the victims or dealing with the perpetrators.

The programme shall provide for measures in the following fields:

  • training,
  • exchange programmes and training courses,
  • the holding of multidisciplinary meetings and seminars,
  • studies and research,
  • dissemination of information.

The Commission shall be responsible for implementing the measures provided for in this joint action and shall adopt the detailed procedures for applying it, including the eligibility criteria for costs.

The Commission shall, with the assistance of experts from the professional circles concerned, establish a draft annual programme for implementing this joint action as regards specific priorities and the allocation of the appropriations available amongst fields of action. The Commission shall each year evaluate the measures for implementing the programme during the previous year.

The Commission shall be assisted by a committee consisting of one representative from each Member State and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The Commission shall report anually to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the programme. The first report shall be forwarded at the end of the 1996 financial year.

For further information on the second phase of the programme see ” STOP II “.

4) Implementing Measures

Annual programme for 1999 Official Journal C 12, 16.01.1999
Annual programme for 2000
Official Journal C 355, 08.12.1999

It lays out the annual priorities regarding the implementation of the programme on the one hand and supplies general and practical information to applicants seeking finance to initiate projects on the other.

5) Follow-Up Work

STOP II

STOP II

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about STOP II

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

STOP II

1) Objective

To ensure continuity of the STOP programme, which expires at the end of 2000; to prevent and combat trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children, including child pornography.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Decision of 28 June 2001 establishing a second phase of the programme of incentives, exchanges, training and cooperation for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (STOP II) [Official Journal L 186, 07.07.2001].

3) Summary

The Decision sets out to establish a second phase of the STOP programme covering the period from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2002.

The aims of the programme are:

  • to develop, implement and evaluate a European policy in this field;
  • to encourage networking, the dissemination of information and the improvement of scientific and technical research;
  • to facilitate participation by countries that have applied to join the European Union in the projects that are developed;
  • to encourage cooperation with non-Union countries and the relevant international organisations.

The Decision provides for the co-financing of projects submitted by any institution, association or public or private organisation in the Member States involved in helping victims or combating this illegal trade.

The programme is aimed at judges, public prosecutors, law enforcement authorities, public immigration and social service authorities, researchers and representatives of charitable organisations. To be eligible for co-financing, projects must involve at least three Member States (or two Member States and one applicant country).

The programme may finance specific projects of particular interest in terms of the programme’s priorities, and complementary measures (seminars, meetings of experts, other measures to disseminate information).

The programme covers the following types of project:

  • training;
  • exchanges and work-experience placements;
  • studies and research;
  • meetings and seminars;
  • dissemination of the results obtained under the programme.

The Commission is responsible for managing and implementing the programme, in cooperation with the Member States. It will prepare an annual work programme comprising specific objectives and a list of projects regarded as priorities.

The Commission is responsible for evaluating and selecting projects on the basis of a series of criteria including, among other things, their European dimension, the scope for participation by the applicant countries, complementarity with other cooperation projects, and quality in terms of project design and the presentation of expected results.

The Commission will be assisted by a “STOP II Committee”, composed of representatives of the Member States. The Commission will chair the Committee and may invite representatives of the applicant countries to information meetings following Committee meetings.

The Commission will undertake an annual evaluation of the measures carried out and send a report on implementation of the programme to Parliament and the Council each year. The first report must be submitted by 31 July 2002.

The Decision will enter into force on the date of its publication in the Official Journal.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Combating child sex tourism

Combating child sex tourism

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating child sex tourism

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Combating child sex tourism

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 27 November 1996 on combating child sex tourism.

Summary

The expansion of tourism over the past half-century has more recently been accompanied by an increase in child sex tourism. The main perpetrators of child sexual exploitation in tourism are not ‘real’ paedophiles but people who take advantage of being in another country to ignore the social taboos which would normally govern their behaviour (“preferential abusers” and “occasional abusers”). The World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm in August 1996, provided an opportunity to define this phenomenon more clearly.

The Commission is concerned about the increase in child sexual exploitation and the fact that it is spreading geographically, and wants the Member States and the tourism industry to become more closely involved in fighting this scourge. To this end, it intends to encourage the drawing-up and implementation of codes of conduct which are in line with the tourism ethic as laid down in the Tourism Bill of Rights and the Tourist Code adopted by the World Tourism Organisation in 1985.

Practical steps have already been taken, including the measures referred to in the Communication on harmful and illegal content on the Internet, the Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services (October 1996), and the Communication on trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation (November 1996).

In practical terms, the Commission is considering EU measures in three priority areas:

Deterring and punishing child sex abusers

It is important to get rid of any legal vacuums that may exist, in particular by enacting laws to punish offenders for offences and crimes committed against children abroad, and by giving national courts extra-territorial jurisdiction in this area, even where the presumed offence or crime is not provided for under the laws of the country in which it was committed. It is clear from initial assessments that increased judicial cooperation between the Member States is needed.

Collecting and exchanging information on the social aspects of sex tourism will improve understanding of this phenomenon. For example, such information could cover the links between tourism and prostitution, the identity, motivation and behaviour of sex tourists, and the public health implications of sex tourism.

Preventive measures could be taken by the national tourism authorities, particularly by providing information for travellers. As well as making them aware of differences between the foreign country and their own, travellers would be reminded of the need to respect the values of the country being visited and to comply with certain basic rules of behaviour. A coordinated EU response could then be considered by the Advisory Committee in the field of tourism, made up of members designated by each Member State, and at the Commission’s consultation meetings with the tourism industry.

Stemming the flow of sex tourists from the Member States

The reasons underlying the supply side of child sex tourism are as numerous as they are complex, although poverty is one of the main factors. The Commission intends to focus its action primarily on the demand side because child sex tourists come mainly from industrialised countries, including EU Member States.

To this end, coordinated public information and awareness-raising campaigns against child sex tourism could be organised. The Community would provide funding for these campaigns and would mobilise the various Community information networks. Programmes and training modules for people working in the tourism industry (including students being trained in the tourism sector) could give them guidelines for combating child sex tourism. Finally, the drafting and tightening-up of codes of conduct and self-regulatory mechanisms in the tourism industry would be important instruments. The Commission will push for the various branches of the tourism industry to sign up to a basic minimum set of commitments.

Helping to combat sex tourism in third countries

This line of action is in keeping with the principle of respect for human rights both within and outside the EU, as laid down in the treaties and agreements the EU has concluded with countries outside the EU. While the sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes is not actually perpetrated by governments, the Commission will apply pressure on countries which appear to be dilatory in this regard.

With regard to financing, the Commission will act in accordance with the principles of rationalising methods for action and coordinating the Community resources available for the protection of children who are victims of sex tourism. Existing instruments for promoting and protecting the rights of the child could be used specifically to support measures to help children who are victims of sex tourism. At the same time, there should be political dialogue with the developing countries most affected. Other measures could be considered once a more detailed analysis of the nature and extent of child sex tourism and of the measures implemented by the countries concerned has been undertaken.

Conclusion

The EU Member States have a duty to take practical steps to combat child sex tourism:

  • in view of the countries of origin of the tourists involved;
  • to prevent the development of child prostitution in Europe;
  • because they have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

References

Act Entry into force – Expiry date Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
COM(96)547 final OJ C 3 of 7.1.1997

Related Acts

Decisions

Council Framework Decisionof 22 December 2003 on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.

to combat child pornography on the Internet.

Decision 96/700/JHA Official Journal L 322, 12.12.1996

Council Joint Action of 29 November 1996 establishing an incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (STOP programme).

Decision 96/748/JHA Official Journal L 342, 31.12.1996

Council Joint Action of 16 December 1996 extending the mandate given to the Europol Drugs Unit to traffic in human beings.

Decision 97/154/JHA Official Journal L 63, 04.03.1997

Council Joint Action of 24 February 1997 concerning action to combat trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children.

Communications

Communication not published in the Official Journal

Communication from the Commission of 26 May 1999 on the implementation of measures to combat child sex tourism.