According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, trafficking in persons is defined as follows:
"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the 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 shall include, at a minimum, the 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.
The Trafficking in Persons Protocol also states that the consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation is irrelevant once deception, coercion, force or other prohibited means have been used. Consent, therefore, cannot be used as a defence to absolve traffickers from criminal responsibility. In trafficking cases involving children, the Trafficking in Persons Protocol states that the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons", even if this does not involve any improper means such as deception, coercion etc. This acknowledges that a child, that is a person under the age of 18, cannot anyway not give a valid consent.
Forms of Human Trafficking and other issues