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Combating trafficking in human beings, the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

In its fight against human trafficking, the European Union has proposed introducing effective measures to address the whole trafficking chain of recruiters, transporters, exploiters and clients.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on combating trafficking in human beings and combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.


The Commission is aware that trafficking in human beings is now a worldwide phenomenon involving tens of thousands of victims, especially women and children. The causes of trafficking are usually poverty, unemployment, lack of education and the vulnerability of certain groups such as women and children. In order to find a satisfactory solution, the Commission has suggested a comprehensive approach in order to deal with the different aspects of such a complex problem.

Since 1996 the European Union has introduced a series of programmes to combat trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children. These included the STOP programme and the DAPHNE programme to combat violence against women and children. Both programmes involve the public authorities and non-governmental organisations. As the STOP programme ended in 2000, the Commission has submitted a proposal for its renewal for 2001 and 2002 which the Council is considering. In 1997 the Council adopted a joint action in order to encourage judicial cooperation. The European Councils held in Tampere and in Santa Maria de Feira called on member countries to take effective action in this field.

In spite of the amendments made by Member States to their laws, judicial cooperation is hampered by the lack of common definitions of crime, incrimination and sanctions.

In order to remedy the situation, the Commission presented two proposals for framework decisions in December 2000. The first (Framework Decision on combating trafficking in human beings) deals with two different aspects of the trade: trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. The second (Framework Decision on combating sexual exploitation of children and child pornography) concerns the new and frightening problem of child pornography on the Internet.

In drawing up the two proposals for Framework Decisions, the Commission took account of the work at international level reflected in the United Nations Protocol on trafficking in human beings and by the draft European Council convention on cybercrime.

The Commission calls on the Council to adopt the two proposals without delay in order to demonstrate clearly its will to take on the fight against these unacceptable violations of fundamental human rights.


ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
COM(2000) 854-1 final--OJ C 357 of 14.12.2001


Council Framework Decision2004/68/JHAof 22 December 2003 on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.

Council Decisionof 29 May 2000 to combat child pornography on the Internet.

Last updated: 20.12.2006

See also

For further information:

The Freedom, Security and Justice site of JFS Directorate-General of the European Commission:

The European Parliament's "Area of Freedom, Security and Justice" site:

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