International legal framework - European Union
Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims
The Directive was adopted in April 2011 and was to be transposed by member States by April 2013. It sets rules on the definition of criminal offences and the level of sanctions as relates to trafficking in human beings. The Directive also sets out to strengthen prevention as well the protection of victims
Some highlights of the directive:
1. A broad concept of what should be considered trafficking in human beings.
2. Penalties for traffickers have been extended from 8 to 10 years within the EU.
3. EU Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that victims of human trafficking are not punished for their compelled involvement in criminal activities.
4. Each Member State will have to investigate and prosecute offences committed in whole or in part within its territory or committed by one of its nationals, even outside of its territory.
5. Member States should provide free legal assistance for victims of human trafficking, in case the victim does not have sufficient financial resources, and special protective measures are envisaged for child victims.
You can see the full text of the directive here.
UN Commentary on EU Directive
Six United Nations agencies have compiled commentary on the EU Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings.
The Commentary discusses key articles of the Directive focusing on human rights and gender perspective, including the non-application of penalties to victims (Article 8), the protection of and assistance to victims, examining the concept of due diligence and the principles of non-refoulement and non-revictimisation, and the role of national referral mechanisms (Articles 11), the protection of victims in criminal proceedings (Article 12), the concepts of remedy and redress (Article 17), prevention (Article 18), and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism (Article 19).
The Commentary provides a lot of useful background information on the articles of the Directive.
EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016
On 19 June 2012, the European Commission adopted the “EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016)”. The strategy is a set of concrete and practical measures that will support and complement the implementation of EU legislation on human trafficking (Directive 2011/36/EU). Concrete actions include the funding of research studies and projects, the establishment of platforms, coalitions and partnerships, the development of guidelines and best practices, awareness-raising campaigns and trainings, etc.
It is based on five key priorities:
- Identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking;
- Stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings;
- Increased prosecution of traffickers;
- Enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence;
- Increased knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings.
The Strategy focuses on the implementation of the Directive and recommends that effective processes are also established to ensure that action in other EU policy areas reinforces the protection and assistance of trafficked persons as required by the Directive rather than undercutting it because priority is afforded to other policy concerns, such as migration control or labour laws.