Western and Central Europe

Countries and territories covered: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, The FYR of Macedonia, Turkey, The United Kingdom

1. Status of the legislation on trafficking in persons

Most of the 38 countries and territories in the European region covered by the Global Report have specific provisions in their criminal codes to combat trafficking in persons or at least some of its aspects. Estonia did not have a specific offence of trafficking in persons but criminalized aspects of it through related offences. The Polish Criminal Code considers specifically the offence of "trafficking in persons" and, even though it is not defined there, the jurisprudence refers to the definition found in Article 3 of the UN Trafficking Protocol for applying this article of the penal code.

Trafficking in persons is not a new legal concept for most of these countries. Between 2005 and 2008, more than 10 countries reshaped their anti-trafficking legal frameworks, mainly modifying their criminal codes to include the forms of trafficking that were not previously criminalized. Most of the countries in South-East Europe adopted legislation on trafficking between 2001 and 2004; Italy, Greece and Turkey adopted a legislation between 2002 and 2003; most of the Northern European countries adopted a legislation between 2002 and 2004; Central European countries adopted their legislation between 1998 and 2004; and most of Western Europe has had a legislation dealing with trafficking for sexual exploitation in place since the late 1990s.

The majority of the countries in this region that have a specific offence of trafficking in persons criminalize at least trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labour, with no restrictions concerning the age and the gender of the victim. Nevertheless, it appears that many of the European criminal justice systems still employ other offences to prosecute some trafficking cases. For instance, the offences of "sexual exploitation", "pimping" or "pandering" often are used to prosecute cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The offences of "slavery" or "trade of slaves "often are used to prosecute trafficking for forced labour.

2. The criminal justice response to trafficking in persons

There is an abundance of criminal justice information on trafficking in persons for the countries in this region. However, as can be seen in other regions, the statistics for some countries do not clearly reference the specific offence of trafficking in persons, because national authorities aggregate the figures for trafficking in persons together with those for other offences. An additional complication is that some countries have more than one authority or institution providing official data on different aspects of trafficking. Some sub-regional trends can be clearly identified. With the exception of Albania and Montenegro, all the South-East European countries recorded a rise in the number of persons investigated, prosecuted or convicted for human trafficking during the reporting period. Conversely, Albania, Montenegro and almost all the Central European countries showed a decreasing trend in the number of persons investigated or prosecuted for human trafficking between 2003 and 2007. Germany, Greece and Italy also recorded a decrease in investigations and prosecutions over the last two to three years, whereas Denmark, France and the United Kingdom showed a general increase in the number of criminal proceedings underway involving suspected cases of trafficking.

3. Trafficking in persons patterns

Male traffickers were clearly more numerous than females, according to available information on the profile of offenders. The number of women investigated, prosecuted or convicted was, proportionally, rarely more than one third of the total number of suspected offenders. Although infrequently recorded, alarmingly, minors also were detected as suspected offenders in some Western European countries. Globally, nationals trafficking within their own countries tended to represent the majority of the offenders suspected or convicted. However, in some countries of this region, the registration of foreign traffickers (suspected or convicted) was substantially higher than in other regions. When information was available on victim profiles, females were clearly the majority of victims detected throughout the region, and adult women were more frequently reported as victims than were girls. Overall, child victims were less common than adults in most countries. However, in South-East Europe the number of child victims identified or sheltered was generally higher when compared to the rest of Europe, and in some countries of this sub-region, children were the largest category of identified victims.
Male victims were episodically reported in many countries in the region. Adult male victims were detected in Southern and Western Europe, and both men and boys were reported as trafficking victims in South-East Europe. Available information identified trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation as the most common type of exploitation, but there were also a significant number of cases of trafficking for forced labour. Victims of trafficking for forced labour were identified in Belgium, France,
Romania and Spain, and forced labour was episodically detected in the Czech Republic, Croatia, Finland, the United Kingdom and other countries. This suggests that trafficking for forced labour likely exists in other countries of the region as well, but goes undetected. Trafficking for begging is less frequently reported and was found mainly in South-East Europe and in some Western European countries. Croatia, Finland, the United Kingdom and other countries. This suggests that trafficking for forced labour likely exists in other countries of the region as well, but goes undetected. Trafficking for begging is less frequently reported and was found mainly in South-East Europe and in some Western European countries.




What? Trafficking in Human Beings in the Black Sea Region

Where? Turkey

When? 9-10 October 2007

Who? Government representatives, international organizations and NGOs such as the Eurasian Economic Community, the European Commission, Europol, ILO, IOM, OSCE, UNHCR, La Strada, ICMPD and UNODC.

Why? To identify ways to further improve international cooperation, including between law enforcement and NGOs for referral of trafficking victims, data collection and information management.

Press release

Chair's Summary (PDF)



What? Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings: Challenges and Solutions

Where? Lithuania

When? 25, 26 October 2007

Who? High-level governmental officials, national experts, journalists and editors, professors, researchers and private sector representatives.

Why? To emphasize the role of the media in preventing modern slavery and to encourage other non-traditional stakeholders - the business community and educational institutions - to join efforts to create a better and safer social environment for men, women and children in their countries.

Event website

Press Release

Technical Note (PDF)