Trafficking in human beings (THB) is a criminal activity that affects people’s fundamental rights and dignity.
In the past 20 years, efforts at international and European level have been stepped up and mechanisms and tools for victims’ protection and punishment of offenders have been put in place. For the time being, the results are rather mixed and the cooperation of all actors involved is needed more than ever to combat this national, cross-border and international phenomenon.
The European Parliament (EP) is a long-standing supporter of the fight against human trafficking. Among its most recent initiatives in this field is the preparation of an implementation report on Directive 2011/36/EU (Anti-Trafficking Directive). This is its second report, aimed at evaluating the functioning of the directive, which is the main EU legislative tool in combating THB.
The Anti-Trafficking Directive envisages a comprehensive, gender-centred and child-sensitive approach to human trafficking, broadening (and strengthening) the definition agreed at international level (in the UN Anti-Trafficking Protocol or Palermo Protocol, from 2000). It introduces some novelties (such as granting rights that can be directly defendable in domestic courts), institutes a ‘position of vulnerability’ and the principle of non-prosecution and non-penalisation of THB victims, enlarges the forms of exploitation (begging, criminal activities, removal of organs), and consolidates existing measures (such as quashing the notion of victim consent to exploitation). According to the directive, trafficking in human beings means: ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception 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 the 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’ (Article 2(2)). At the same time, the directive lays down minimum common rules for THB offences and in particular the prosecution of offenders, sanctions for crimes, and prevention of human trafficking, while creating new instruments for a consistent and coordinated approach (designation of an EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator) and allowing for consolidated enforcement mechanisms.
This assessment collected evidence to support the preparation of the EP implementation report by mapping the relevant literature and existing documents relating to the topic (desk-research analysis), as well as by gathering data directly on the ground, through interviews with relevant stakeholders. The European implementation assessment (EIA) comprises: an opening analysis, which includes some general remarks and initiatives relating to THB, as well as the key findings and the conclusion of the assessment, mainly based on the data put together through the research carried out in the preparation of the implementation report;a research paper on ‘Trafficking in human beings: gender issues and migration’, which is the most recent and comprehensive analysis to date on the actual functioning of Directive 2011/36/EU.
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