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Protocol against the trafficking of people

The European Union adheres to the Protocol to suppress and punish trafficking in persons, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. This Protocol aims particularly at protecting women and children against sexual exploitation, slavery and forced labour.

ACT

Council Decisions 2006/618/EC and 2006/619/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

SUMMARY

With these decisions the Council ratifies, on behalf of the European Union (EU), the Protocol on trafficking in persons supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 15 November 2000. Annex II to the decisions specifies the competence of the European Community with regard to matters governed by the Protocol.

The purposes of the Protocol are:

  • to prevent and combat transnational trafficking in persons *, especially women and children *, by organised criminal groups;
  • to protect and assist the victims of exploitation *;
  • to promote cooperation among countries in this domain.

Each signatory State is required to adopt the necessary legislative and other measures to establish as criminal offences the acts defined as trafficking in persons, including acting as an accomplice in such acts.

Disputes between the signatory States concerning the interpretation or application of this Protocol should be settled by negotiation and, failing that, by arbitration. In the latter case, if an arrangement has not been made within six months, any of those States may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Preventing trafficking in persons

The signatory States should adopt measures to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, in cooperation with relevant civil society organisations. These measures might include information and media campaigns and social and economic initiatives.
It is also important to address the factors that render people vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Protecting victims

The signatory States must protect the privacy and identity of victims of trafficking and provide them with information on relevant court and administrative proceedings. They are also required to provide for their physical, psychological and social recovery, for example by providing housing, appropriate care, and employment, educational and training opportunities.
They must allow victims of trafficking to remain in their territory, temporarily or permanently, giving appropriate consideration to humanitarian and compassionate factors. These persons must also be assisted to return to their country of origin or to reach another country, with due regard for their safety.

Cooperation

The relevant services of the signatory States should exchange information on the types of travel documents that are used for the purpose of trafficking in persons, and the means and methods used by organised criminal groups for this purpose. Cooperation between the border control services of the signatory States should also be strengthened.

Background

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 15 November 2000, came into force on 23 September 2003.
It is supplemented by three Protocols: the Protocol against trafficking in persons, which came into force on 25 December 2003, the Protocol against the smuggling of migrants by land, air and sea, which came into force on 28 January 2004, and the Protocol against the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in firearms, which came into force on 3 July 2005.

Key terms used in the act
  • Trafficking in persons: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, 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: 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.
  • Child: any person under 18 years of age.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Council Decisions 2006/618/EE and 2006/619/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2003/0197]24.7.2007-OJ L 262 of 22.9.2006

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision 2004/579/EC of 29 April 2004 on the conclusion, on the behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime [Official Journal L 261 of 6.8.2004].

Council Decisions 2006/616/EC and 2006/617/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime [Official Journal L 262 of 22.9.2006].

Council Decision 2001/748/EC of 16 October 2001 on signing on behalf of the European Community of the Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts, components and ammunition, annexed to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime [Official Journal L 280 of 24.10.2001].

Last updated: 17.03.2008
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