Trafficking in Human Beings

Background to the Anti-Trafficking Protocol

Trafficking in human beings is a global phenomenonTrafficking in human beings is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of force or the threat of force. It may also involve abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or the giving and receiving of payments for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery-like practices, servitude or the removal of organs. This definition is based on the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Trafficking in human beings is a global phenomenon. Transnational crime groups are heavily involved in trafficking mainly women and children all over the world. Yet, due to a lack of systematic research, reliable data on trafficking in human beings that would allow comparative analyses and the design of countermeasures is scarce.

There is a need to strengthen criminal justice response to trafficking through legislative reform, awareness-raising and training as well as through national and international cooperation. The support and protection of victims who give evidence is key to prosecuting the ringleaders behind the phenomenon.

Potential victims need to be warned about the risks related to trafficking and the truth behind the vague promises of a too-good-to-be-true job in Europe or North America. The general public as well as criminal justice practitioners should also become more aware of this growing crime.

UN Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings
The Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings was designed by the Centre for International Crime Prevention (CICP) in collaboration with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). The Programme assists Member States in their efforts to combat trafficking in human beings. It highlights the involvement of organized crime groups in human trafficking and promotes the development of effective ways of cracking down on perpetrators.

Launched in March 1999, the Programme’s key components are data collection, assessment and technical cooperation.

Smuggling RoutesThe assessment component of the Programme performed by UNICRI includes data collection on various smuggling routes and the methods used by organized criminal groups in trafficking. The UN is also collecting “best practices” used in combating trafficking and the involvement of organized crime. A database containing details of these practices will be established so that the collected information can be used by policy makers, practitioners, researchers and the NGO community.

Countries involved in the Programme are selected from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America and will be assessed according to:

smuggling routes and forms of exploitation of trafficked people;
cooperation among law enforcement, prosecution and judiciary;
government efforts to respond, including recent legislative reforms; and
commitment of the government to the project’s implementation.

Technical Cooperation
On the basis of the assessments, eight countries are now involved in technical cooperation projects. Specific intervention measures are being introduced that are designed to strengthen the capacity to combat forms of trafficking at the national and international levels. These measures will assist countries of origin, transit and destination to develop joint strategies and practical actions.

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At the National Level the Programme aims to:
promote awareness-raising (such as public awareness campaigns) of trafficking in human beings and especially strengthen institutional capacity;
train law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges;
advise on drafting and revising relevant legislation;
provide advice and assistance on establishing and strengthening anti-trafficking elements; and
strengthen victim and witness support.
At the International Level the Programme aims to:
provide assistance to agencies, institutions and governments, as part of an interdisciplinary effort to design effective measures against trafficking in human beings; and
create an international strategy and a final report to bepresented at a world forum in 2002