COUNCIL OF EUROPE

In Warsaw on 16 May 2005, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was opened for accession and has since been signed by 43 member states of the Council of Europe. It entered into force in February 2008 The Convention established a Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) which monitors the implementation of the Convention through country reports. 
Although binding agreements on protection, support and assistance for identified trafficked persons are included in the Convention, they are still conditional on victims' cooperation with the authorities. This Convention remains embedded in the criminal justice framework. Fortunately, it is intended to enhance the protection afforded by the Palermo Protocol and to develop the standards it contains. It sets standards and provides policy guidance in a number of areas that are not covered by the Palermo Protocol, such as internal trafficking and trafficking not involving organised criminal groups. Emphasis is placed on the principle that the trafficked persons should not be punished for crimes that they have been compelled to do. 
A promising aspect of the Convention is the monitoring mechanism it sets up. This mechanism consists of both a political instrument (the Committee of the Parties) and a technical group called the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA). Considering the Council of Europe is an intergovernmental human rights institute, it is hoped that the activities of GRETA will be focused not only on the implementation of the Convention but also on the human rights impact of all anti-trafficking measures (especially on the rights of those people trafficked in member states). 
Complementary protection is ensured through the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote, 25 October 2007).In addition, the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg has passed judgments concerning trafficking in human beings which violated obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights: Siliadin v. France, judgment of 26 July 2005, and Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia, judgment of 7 January 2010.

ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE

In 2003 the OSCE established an anti-trafficking mechanism aimed at raising public awareness of the problem and building the political will within participating States to tackle it effectively. The OSCE actions against human trafficking are coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative for Combating the Traffic of Human Beings. Since 2006 this office has been headed by Eva Biaudet, a former Member of Parliament and Minister of Health and Social Services in her native Finland. 
The activities of the Office of the Special Representative range from training law enforcement agencies to tackle human trafficking to promoting policies aimed at rooting out corruption and organised crime. The Special Representative also visits countries and can, on their request, support the formation and implementation of their anti-trafficking policies. In other cases the Special Representative provides advice regarding implementation of the decisions on human trafficking, and assists governments, ministers and officials to achieve their stated goals of tackling human trafficking.

UNITED NATIONS

THE TRAFFICKING PROTOCOL

The year 2000 marked the signing and adoption of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (hereafter, Palermo Protocol), which came into force three years later. This Protocol is important as it provides a common definition of trafficking and sets international standards. 
Art. 3(a) of the Palermo Protocol defines trafficking as: 
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the 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 shall include, at a minimum, the 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. 
* In the case of children the use of any form of coercion or abuse is not required

The Protocol covers the following:

  • defining the crime of trafficking in human beings; essentially, trafficking is the transport of persons, by means of coercion, deception, or consent for the purpose of exploitation such as forced or consensual labour or prostitution:

"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the 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 shall include, at a minimum, the 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... The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above] have been used.

  • facilitating the return and acceptance of children who have been victims of cross-border trafficking, with due regard to their safety;
  • prohibiting the trafficking of children (which is defined as being a person under 18 years of age) for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), exploitative labour practices or the removal of body parts;
  • suspending parental rights of parents, caregivers or any other persons who have parental rights in respect of a child should they be found to have trafficked a child;
  • ensuring that definitions of trafficking reflect the need for special safeguards and care for children, including appropriate legal protection;
  • ensuring that trafficked persons are not punished for any offences or activities related to their having been trafficked, such as prostitution and immigration violations;
  • ensuring that victims of trafficking are protected from deportation or return where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that such return would represent a significant security risk to the trafficked person or their family;
  • considering temporary or permanent residence in countries of transit or destination for trafficking victims in exchange for testimony against alleged traffickers, or on humanitarian and compassionate grounds;
  • providing for proportional criminal penalties to be applied to persons found guilty of trafficking in aggravating circumstances, including offences involving trafficking in children or offences committed or involving complicity by state officials; and,
  • providing for the confiscation of the instruments and proceeds of trafficking and related offences to be used for the benefit of trafficked persons.

The Convention and the Protocol obligate ratifying states to introduce national trafficking legislation. The Palermo Protocol stipulation that EU member states have the obligation to combat trafficking into all economic sectors has led to a slow but gradual increase in reported cases of trafficking into sectors such as construction work, agriculture and food processing, domestic and care work, hotels and hospitality and for the purposes of begging, the exploitation of petty crime and benefit fraud. Trafficking arises both in sectors that are legal and regulated as well as informal and unregulated, and for activities that may be illegal

EUROPEAN UNION

Since the UN Palermo Protocol, similar legislation has emerged at the regional level. The EU Framework Decision on combating trafficking in human beings, adopted in 2002, is based on the Protocol. Again, this Decision takes a criminal justice approach and does not address protection of the rights of trafficked persons.

Within the European region, protection issues and measures for trafficked persons were laid down in the 2004 Council Directive on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration and who cooperate with the competent authorities. The Directive obliges member states to offer those who have been trafficked and who are willing to cooperate with the authorities a temporary residence permit, support and assistance. The major problem of the Directive, however, is that support and assistance are conditional; a person has to cooperate with the authorities before he or she becomes eligible for support.

On 1 December 2005,the European Action Plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing trafficking in human beings was adopted at the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting. The Action Plan aims at further strengthening the commitment of the EU and member states to prevent and fight against trafficking in people. It calls for a coordinated policy response in the areas of freedom, security, justice, external relations, development cooperation, employment, gender equality and non-discrimination.

In January 2006, the European Parliament unanimously adopted the own-initiative report ''Strategies to prevent trafficking in women and children who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation'', drafted by Christa Prets, member from the Socialist Group in the European Parliament. By adopting this report, the Members of European Parliament urge the EU member states to put more effort into combating trafficking and to grant more rights to trafficked persons. 
In 2008, the European Commission evaluated how well member states were complying with the Framework Decision and with the Directive. The Commission noted that although the majority of states do comply with provisions regarding the criminal justice elements, their compliance with victim protection is lacking. In March 2009, the Commission has proposed a revision of the framework decision