Published date10 October 2007
Date10 October 2007
AuthorHans-Jorg Albrecht
¨rg Albrecht
Traff‌icking in humans has emerged as an eminent social, political and legal
problem with the opening of borders in Europe at the end of the 1980s. Since
then, it has become an issue of concern in both national and international
systems of crime control and law enforcement (Arlacchi, 2000;David, 2000),
as is illustrated by the many norms and standards being enacted in the
framework of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European
Union and other organizations.
This chapter intends to give an overview of the major instruments and
policies to deal with the problem of traff‌icking in humans. It is argued that
the f‌ight against traff‌icking cannot be seen in isolation from policies against
organized crime and from migration policies. It also becomes clear that
traff‌icking of humans is increasingly viewed in a human rights framework,
both for the victims of traff‌icking and for their offenders.
The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Article 34 already
expressly conf‌irms the right of the child to be protected from sexual
Crime and Human Rights
Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Volume 9, 39–71
Copyright r2007 by Elsevier Ltd.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved
ISSN: 1521-6136/doi:10.1016/S1521-6136(07)09002-1
exploitation, including of course traff‌icking in children. However, it was in
the United Nations Convention on Transnational Crime, signed in Palermo
(Italy) in December 2000, that a consensus def‌inition of traff‌icking in human
beings has been achieved in a legally binding international instrument for the
f‌irst time (protocol to prevent, suppress and punish traff‌icking in persons,
especially in women and children, General Assembly Resolution 55/25,
annex II). The Vienna branch of the United Nations has made traff‌icking in
humans a central f‌ield of research and international crime policy. The launch
of the United Nations global programme to combat traff‌icking in human
beings contains three components: research and assessment, a data base on
traff‌icking f‌lows, and a manual on promising practices (Press Release SOC/
CP/210, 11 March 1999). In 2004, the Commission on Human Rights has
adopted decision 2004/110 (endorsed by the Economic and Social Council
with decision 2004/228), by which it decidedto appoint a Special Rapporteur
on traff‌icking in persons, especially women and children. The task of this
Special Rapporteur is to take actions (subsequent to individual complaints)
on violations committed against traff‌icked persons and on situations
displaying a failure to protect human rights of traff‌icked persons. The
Special Rapporteur visits individual countries in order to monitor the
situation and to recommend action to prevent and to combat traff‌icking and
to enhance protection of human rights. Annual reports shall be submitted to
the Human Rights Commission (see Report of the Special Rapporteur on the
human rights aspects of the victims of traff‌icking in persons, especially
women and children, 2006).
Also in Europe several initiatives have been taken. Within the framework
of the European Union several Joint Actions and a Framework Decision on
Combating Traff‌icking in Human Beings (OJ L 203, 1.8. 2002, pp. 1–4) have
highlighted the salience of traff‌icking in humans for European crime and
human rights policies (Alexander, Meuwese, & Wolthuis, 2000,p.489).An
Action extended the Europol mandate to traff‌icking in humans (1996) and a
Joint Action of 24 February 1997 aimed at combating traff‌icking in human
beings and sexual exploitation of children. While the Joint Action of 1997
focuses on traff‌icking in women and children for the purpose of sexual
exploitation or prostitution and obliges the member states to penalize
behaviour that aims at sexually exploiting children and adults, the Frame-
work Decision of 2002 is a response to the obvious failure of the member
states to implement the Joint Action of 1997. The Framework Decision 2002
covers both exploitation of labour and sexual exploitation, and was
essentially guided by the traff‌icking protocol of the UN Transnational Crime
Convention of 2000 (Rijken, 2005). The Brussels Declaration of 2002 on
traff‌icking came out of the European Conference on Preventing and
Combating Traff‌icking in Human Beings and aims at further developing
European and international co-operation, concrete measures, standards, best
practices and mechanisms to prevent and combat traff‌icking in human
beings. It forms now the main basis of the European Commission’s activities
in the area of human traff‌icking. On 25 March 2003, the European
Commission set up a group of experts the main task of which was to prepare
a report on proposals to strengthen the f‌ight against traff‌icking. The Europol
mechanisms are also dealing with traff‌icking in humans. Article 2 of the
Europol Convention refers to the prevention and combating of the trade in
human beings. Eurojust, set up in 2002, has been assigned the competence for
investigations and prosecutions concerning traff‌icking cases affecting two or
more Member States. The attention paid to human traff‌ickingis shown in the
EU Charter on Fundamental Rights as presented during the Summit of Nice
in December 2000. Here, Article 5 Sec. 3 simply states that traff‌icking in
human beings is prohibited,and Sec. 1 and 2 of the same article prohibit slave
trade and forced or slave labour.
Traff‌icking is also on the agendaof other international organizations active
on European territory. The Council of Europe in May 2005 has opened a
Convention on Action against Traff‌icking in Human Beings (ETS 197) for
signature which follows the def‌initions as set out in the Human Traff‌icking
Protocol of the UN Convention Against Transnational Crime of 2000
(Tschigg, 2005). The Organization for Security and Co- Operation in Europe
(OSCE) in December 2003 has adopted an Action Plan to Combat
Traff‌icking in Human Beings which calls on participating States to take
initiatives to prevent traff‌icking, to prosecute traff‌ickers, and to protect
traff‌icked persons. The Action Plan offers the assistance of OSCE institutions
and their respective f‌ield operations. In 2004, the OSCE appointed a special
representative whois supported by an anti-traff‌icking assistance unit and who
cooperates closely withthe Anti Traff‌icking Unit in the Off‌ice for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights. The OSCE strategy against human
traff‌icking is based on establishing multi-agency anti-traff‌icking structures
(National Referral Mechanisms, including civil society), mechanisms of
identif‌ication and assistance of traff‌icked persons and strengthening access to
remedies and rights for traff‌icking victims.
Non-governmental organizations play an important role in the develop-
ment of anti-traff‌icking policies, though it is not clear to what end. Human
Rights Watch, IOM (International Organization for Migration) and various
other NGOs continue to lobby for their respective clientele and implement
their particular interests (immigration, victims in general, violence against
Traff‌icking in Humans and Human Rights 41

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