The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings entered into force on February 1 2008. As the explanatory memorandum underlines, “the purpose of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings is to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, to identify and protect the victims of trafficking and to safeguard their rights; and to promote international co-operation against trafficking. The Convention applies to all forms of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of exploitation, whether national or transnational and whether or not related to organised crime. It applies whoever the victim: women, men or children. The concept of ‘exploitation’ includes, at a minimum: sexual exploitation; forced labour or slavery; servitude; or the removal of organs. The Convention also provides for the setting up of an independent monitoring mechanism to evaluate and report on States Parties’ compliance with its provisions”.
The Council acknowledges trafficking of human beings as a horrofic crime and therefor emphasizes its criminalisation as well as supply of help for the victims in a legal and moral sense. The definition of trafficking refers to the one provided in the UN Trafficking Protocol, which says that a person is trafficked, when coerced or deceived into a situation where they are exploited. It consists of a combination of 3 basic components – an action (e.g. transport, recruitment); by a means (e.g. threat of force, or fraud); for the purpose of exploitation (a category of mistreatment with a high threshold, e.g. prostitution of others).
It´s important to underline that trafficking can never be voluntary. Migration, legal or illegal, is displacement mostly due to natural disasters and conflicts, gendered cultural practices, violence, and job demand in specific economic sectors, so therefore we can see migration as one voluntary process. In trafficking where there is consent to move for work, consent is nullified due to traffickers use of coercion, deception, fraud, etc. and due to the fact that exploitation as final stage is most likely to be inevitable.
For the complete document see PDF above.