Merits in human trafficking on international level


Дана стаття є коротким описом комплексної проблеми торгівлі людьми у всьому світі, мета статті – виділити основні питання, що постають за допомогою вивчення юридичних джерел з посиланням на три основні опори: попередження, захист жертв та переслідування злочинців.

This article is a brief overview of a complex problem of human trafficking all over the world, its intention is to highlight the main issues arising on that point through examining legal resources, with reference to the three main pillars: prevention, protection of victims and prosecution of traffickers.

Key words: human trafficking, prevention of crime, protection of victims, prosecution, transnational crime.

Globally and domestically, human trafficking is identified as the modern equivalent to slavery. This appears one of the incurable society ‘diseases’, which made people vulnerable to exploitation. Economic hardship, natural disasters, or political instability, debts, unemployment, bondage force people to escape and look for a new life somewhere else. Such hopelessness is the main attraction for deceivers.

Therefore, trafficking in human beings remains a serious transnational organized crime, so the proper evaluation of this phenomenon can help to reappraise the reality with law and produce a new affective scheme in fighting the crime. In fact, there is a list of countries, which could not be named as ones to provide effective policy in human trafficking:

  • India has been considered as a source, transit and destination point in the international circuit for child trafficking;
  • besides Nigeria, other main sources of females for prostitution are the West African states of Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Togo. Young girls are lured with fraudulent offers of jobs in Europe only to end up being violently forced into prostitution;
  • Pakistan and India are source, destination and transit countries for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude;
  • Jamaica is principally a source country for women and children trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. The majority of victims are Jamaican women and girls, and increasingly boys, who are trafficked from rural to urban and tourist areas for sexual exploitation.1

On the first place, naturally, there are undeveloped and poor countries in Middle East, Africa, Southern and Central Asia; however, the most civilized and well-off megacountries (USA, UK, Canada) grappled that kind of slavery.

The legal base deterrent to tackle this horrendous crime consists of: The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Anti-trafficking Protocol), adopted by General Assembly resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000;  Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (or The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)), formed  by Council of Europe and entered into force on 3 September 1953. The UN has recently initiated the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) that was launched in March 2007 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The program works for purposeful and coordinative approach with UN agencies, international organizations and other stakeholders in fighting that slavery.2
 Furthermore, the Convention gives an informative and expanded definition of human trafficking, which states that:
“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;3
Such the definition opens all the sides of the trans-border crime, explicitly explaining the sources, means, purposes and tools used by the traffickers to find the victims and, all in all, does not require any explanation.

The next aspect is needed to be emphasized as prevention is core to the eventual elimination of human trafficking. As it was mentioned, many social and economic factors lead to the demand for trafficking and there must be a complex approach, especially in source countries. Currently, the most developed prevention efforts are through the auspices of the US State Department, which issues a detailed annual Trafficking in Persons report through its provision of funds for anti-trafficking programs in transit countries. An example of a United Nations funded anti-trafficking program is the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT).4 At the same time, two more thoughts were outlined in prevention toolkit: firstly, there has to be the legislative framework designed not only to criminalize the offence but to deter possible offenders with the seriousness of the penalties involved; secondly, training of public officials who can intervene to recognize potential victims and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.5

An example of the solution is declared in  the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – Declaration against Human Trafficking which calls on its member states to:

  1. Provide and strengthen sensitisation and training for government officials, particularly law enforcement personnel, customs and immigration officials, prosecutors and judges, and other relevant officials on the prevention of trafficking in persons and on the investigation and prosecution of related crimes;

11.Create specialized anti-trafficking units within law enforcement agencies and within the prosecutorial services, with a special view to fight the involvement of organized criminal groups.6

The main steps have to be created on the grounds of every country, at its domestic level. Then it will be easier to address the issue of human trafficking at an intergovernmental level. For example, Canada coordinates anti-trafficking policies through its Interdepartmental Working Group and the Human Trafficking National Coordination Center, which received increased staffing and resources in 2006; Australia has an Australian Federal Police (AFP) unit, the Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Team (TSETT), and the United Kingdom has the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre7 and so on.


Every national anti-trafficking strategy must include measures for victim protection. Trafficking in human beings is not just a problem of serious organized crime, law and order or immigration and border control; but in its very nature it also involves grave human rights violations which can include rape, torture, loss of dignity, slavery, forced labour, arbitrary detention and in the worst cases, deprivation of life. But mostly, many victims are deported as illegal immigrants or recognized as perpetrators of crimes, fined for administrative offences or taken into custody. Dealing with victims, it is necessary to remember such a “rights-based approach” within the criminal justice system, which claims four core rights:

– the right to respect: the requirement of treating the trafficked person as a victim of crime and holder of rights, rather than an illegal migrant, prostitute or morally dubious person;

–   the right to information and advice: provision about immediate access to support organizations and to translation and free legal advice;

–  the right to privacy: trafficked persons have the right to privacy and confidentiality of their private and family life;

–  the right to protection: protection offered to trafficked persons should be on the basis of individual risk assessment, and need to be co-operated with law enforcement.8

Therewith, a national anti-trafficking plan must include a system to refer trafficked persons to specialized agencies offering shelter and protection from physical and psychological harm, as well as support services. Such shelter entails medical, social, and psychological support; legal services; and assistance in acquiring identity documents, as well as the facilitation of voluntary repatriation or resettlement.

Evidently, not only cultural (behavioral) and educational factors play role in disruption of that crime, but the practical “real” measures should be taken in order to provide safety and recovery of the injured people.


Prosecution is the most precarious as well as essential issue to come up with. This is because of the robust relationship between sexual/labour trafficking, kidnapping and other sexual offences. Actually there is a distinction among those crimes but the penalties are very similar in each state. For instance, in source countries like Nigeria the legislation imposes a life sentence on anyone caught trading in women or girls under the Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act as amended in 2005 to increase penalties for traffickers: “Any person who procures a girl or woman…to become a common prostitute either in Nigeria or elsewhere is liable to life imprisonment”.9

Thinking about the traffickers, it is needed to see the reality as it is. Like drug and arms trafficking, human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand. Considering the simplest statistics, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children (55% are women and girls); the International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide,10 such horrendous acts have to induce governmental powers  to create and prepare a strong model legislation for human trafficking, intelligence and evidence-gathering techniques that could exist in modern unstable world.

Trafficking in human beings is one of the top trans-border crimes of the XXI century, when there is no place for humanity, age, race, or sex. It is clear that only coordinative and radical activity together with the robust legal regime in a twin-track abetting have to be deployed across states to fight or at least to reduce the level of exploitation.


Breau, Susan C., School of Law, University of Surrey for the Commonwealth Secretariat (2008), Legal issues relating to Human Trafficking, Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education, 6:2, 218.

Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT). Prepared by United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (UNIAP), Secretariat to COMMIT, December 2007.

Economic Community of West African States, Declaration on the Fight against Trafficking in Persons, Twenty-fifth Ordinary Session of Authority of Heads of State and Government, Dakar, 20–21 December 2001.

European Commission, Report of the Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings Brussels, 22 December 2004. pp. 37–38.

Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) at

Human Trafficking, article at

The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition Law Enforcement and Administration (Amendment) Act, 2005.

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, adopted by General Assembly Resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.








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