Definitions

What is trafficking in human beeings?
Here official definitions of this phenomenon are presented. Definitions below are adopted by the main international organizations dealing with problems of trafficking in human beings, as well as selected governments and state authorities.

Definitions by International Organizations

International Organization for Migration

Counter-trafficking measures constitute one of six International Organization for Migration’s (www.iom.int) service areas through which it strives to contribute to prevention of trafficking as well as to protecting the rights of and providing assistance to victims of trafficking. For IOM trafficking in human beings occurs when:

  • a migrant is illicitly engaged (recruited, kidnapped, sold, etc.) and/or moved, either within national or across international borders;
  • intermediaries (traffickers) during any part of this process obtain economic or other profit by means of deception, coercion and/or other forms of exploitation under conditions that violate the fundamental human rights of migrants.

United Nations

On 15 November 2000 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children supplementing the United Nations Convention against transnational organised crime (www.uncjin.org). Article 3 of the Protocol adopted the following definition of trafficking.

  1. ‘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;
  2. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
  3. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered ‘trafficking in persons’ even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
  4. ‘Child’ shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.

European Commission

The European Commission (www.europa.eu.int) in a communication in December 2000 – a proposal for a framework decision regarding combating trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children – gave the following definition.

Article 1 Offences concerning trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation.

Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the recruitment, transportation or transfer of a person, including harbouring and subsequent reception and the exchange of control over him or her is punishable, where the fundamental rights of that person have been and continue to be surpressed for the purpose of exploiting him or her in the production of goods or provision of services in infringement of labour standards governing working conditions, salaries and health and safety, and:

  1. use is made of coercion, force or threats, including abduction, or
  2. use is made of deceit or fraud, or
  3. there is a misuse of authority, influence or pressure, or
  4. there is another form of abuse.

Article 2 Offences concerning trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation

Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the recruitment, transportation or transfer of a person, including harbouring and subsequent reception and the exchange of control over him or her is punishable, where the purpose is to exploit him or her in prostitution or in pornographic performances or in production of pornographic material, and:

  1. use is made of coercion, force or threats, including abduction, or
  2. use is made of deceit or fraud, or
  3. there is a misuse of authority, influence or pressure, or
  4. there is another form of abuse.

Europol

In the Europol (www.europol.eu.int) convention of 1995, traffic in human beings is defined as follows:

‘Subjection of a person to the real and illegal sway of other persons by using violence or menaces or by abuse of authority or intrigue with a view to exploitation of prostitution, forms of sexual exploitation and assault of minors or trade in abandoned children’.

International Labour Organization

International Labour Organization (www.ilo.org) has adopted Conventions that are relevant with regard to trafficking in women for involuntary servile work. The Forced Labour Convention (1930) defines “forced or compulsory labour” as:

“all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntary”

As for trafficking of women under 18 years of age, there is one more relevant ILO Convention which defines this labour as:

  1. all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  2. the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
  3. the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
  4. work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (www.osce.org) in “Trafficking in Human Beings: implications for the OSCE” (1999/3), defines trafficking in human beings as:

  • all acts involved in the recruitment, abduction, transport (within or across borders), sale, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons;
  • by the threat or use of force, deception, coercion (including abuse of authority), or debt bondage;
  • for the purpose of placing or holding such person, whether for pay or not, in involuntary servitude, forced or bonded labour, or in slavery-like conditions,
  • in a community other than the one in which the person lived at the time of the original deception, coercion or debt bondage.

The Global Alliance against Trafficking in Women

The Global Alliance against Trafficking in Women (www.inet.co.th/org/gaatw/) the International Human Rights Law Group and the Foundation Against Trafficking in Women (STV), in conjunction with numerous NGOs around the world, have developed a definition based on their long-standing experience in the field:

‘Any act or attempt involving the recruitment, transport within or across national boundaries, exchange, sale, transfer, lodging or reception of a person by means of deception, constraint (including the use of force or the abuse of authority) or by means of debt bondage with a view to placing or maintaining the person in question, with or without financial consideration, in a position of servitude (domestic, sexual or reproductive), in forced labour or in conditions analogous to slavery, in a community other than that in which the person lived until the moment the deception, constraint or debt bondage was brought to bear.’

Definitions by States

Estonia

New Penal Code of Estonia, which came into force since 1st September, 2002 defines “slavery” as: 
“putting somebody through force or deception into a situation where he/she is forced against his/her will to work or fullfill other obligations to the benefit of somebody, as well as keeping him/her in such situation”.

Oficially reference is made to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (November 15, 2000) supplementing the UN Convention against transnational organised crime.

Latvia

Official understanding of the term “Trafficking in Human Beings” is as defined in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (November 15, 2000) supplementing the UN Convention against transnational organised crime.

The Criminal Code of Latvia does not use the term “traficking in human beings”, but rather refers to the term “Sending a Person for Sexual Exploitation”.

The Section 1651 of the Criminal Code defines the offence as “sending a person with his or her consent to a foreign state for sexual exploitation”.

The Criminal Code Section 1652 explains the term “Sending”

Within the meaning of this Section, sending shall be construed as any action that encourages legal or illegal departure from the State or entry into the State, transit or residence in a foreign state.

Lithuania

The Government of Lithuania in the “Program for prevention and control of trafficking in human beings and prostitution 2002-2004” refers to trafficking in human beings as defined in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (November 15, 2000) supplementing the UN Convention against transnational organised crime.

The Article 149 of the Criminal Code of Lithuania provides the following definition of trafficking in human beings: “selling, acquisition or any other alienation of person with purpose to receive any material or personal gain”.

United States of America

The Government of the United States of America in “Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000” provided the following definitions of trafficking in human beings and related concepts:

The Act defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

  • sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Definition of terms used in the term “severe forms of trafficking in persons”:

Sex trafficking. The term ”sex trafficking” means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.

Commertial sex act. The term ”commercial sex act” means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.

Debt bondage. The term ”debt bondage” means the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those of a person under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.

Involuntary servitude. The term ”involuntary servitude” includes a condition of servitude induced by means of

  1. any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or
  2. the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

Coercion means:

  • threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person;
  • any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

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