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Trafficking in human beings
Slaves at the heart of Europe

Maud de Boer Buquicchio:
A temporary residence permit for victims of the people trafficking (more...)


A European convention is a matter of urgency

List of Treaties


Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers and of the Parliamentary Assembly
Background information documents
Conclusions of the Platform on "Combating trafficking of children in Europe", Tirana, 19-20 January 2004


United Nations Treaties
European Union Instruments


Child sexual abuse in Europe (2003)


European Union
United Nations
International Organization for Migration

Do they number 120 000, 180 000, even 500 000? It is very difficult to know exactly how many people have been subjected to trafficking in Europe. Police forces, NGOs and international organisations all agree that the statistics are not accurate. On the other hand, two facts are quite clear to all: the first is that women and children are the main victims of this dreadful trade, and the second is that trafficking is constantly increasing.

The fall of the communist governments, the wars in the Balkans, the impoverishment of populations subjected to the "shock therapy" of market economics and the major developments of the past 15 years in central and eastern Europe have given a great boost to the trafficking of human beings. Lydie Err, in her report to the Parliamentary Assembly, said that 78% of women victims of trafficking were from central or eastern Europe, and that the opening up of borders and the rise in unemployment, together with the disruption of governmental structures, had led to an increase in human trafficking.
«The same weapons must be used to combat human trafficking in Europe as are used against drug trafficking and money laundering»

Then the tightening up of immigration policies in the countries of the Union had aggravated the situation of the most vulnerable people. In Mrs Err’s opinion, these restrictions encourage the setting up of trafficking channels which deceive women who wish to emigrate. She says that, in eastern Europe, trafficking is linked to organised crime, which uses the proceeds to fund arms or drug trafficking.

The Council of Europe has been sounding the alarm for over 10 years, drawing the attention of member states and other international organisations to the vital need for co-operation to combat trafficking. It is now taking the path of a new European convention, because the time has come to put an end to the dual persecution suffered by the victims of trafficking, who are both exploited by their tormentors and treated as offenders in the countries where they live in veritable slavery.

Trafficking is very closely linked to organised crime, and the same weapons must be used to combat it in Europe as are used against drug trafficking and money laundering. Experience in this field has shown that the use of legal instruments at regional level is a useful way of reinforcing the action taken globally.

In Europe trafficking in human beings is above all synonymous with prostitution. At any rate, that is the most visible, best known aspect of it. However, the trade in human beings does not have a single face, but utilises all the forms of exploitation that may bring in money. (more…)

According to Europol, the women who are victims of trafficking in Europe are in every case trapped by poverty and violence. Exploited, deceived, kidnapped, they by no means imagined the degrading conditions in which they would have to live. (more…)
Map: Slaves in Kosovo

Slave markets still exist in 21st century Europe. They are no longer held on public squares, but, as in days of old, people who trade in human beings, particularly in women, make huge profits…(more…)
Map: the path of human trafficking in Europe


Action against trafficking in human beings
Legal Affairs
Project LARA