Building a Europe for and with children

Trafficking in human beings ...

children treated as slaves

Trafficking in human beings constitutes a violation of human rights and an offence to the dignity and integrity of all human beings. It deprives children of the right to preserve their identity, to education, health care, rest and leisure, and to not  be subjected to degrading treatment or punishment. In Europe, trafficking children is usually for sexual exploitation or forced labour.  Because trafficked children are made to believe that they have no alternatives, they often lack motivation to escape.
There is literally no country in Europe that has not been affected by the people trade, either as an origin,  transit or receiving country, or a combination of some or all of these. Stamping out cross-border trafficking  requires highly-developed international co-operation: traffickers are the great beneficiaries if this co-operation is lacking. 

Selected legal texts

The Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings: open for signature on 16 May 2005,  has now been ratified (10 ratifications, 8 of which must be member states) and will enter into force on 1 February 2008.

This first European treaty on trafficking is a comprehensive treaty which aims to prevent trafficking, protect the human rights of its victims and prosecute traffickers. It covers all forms of trafficking, whether sexual, forced labour or services. It also focuses on all victims - men, women and children -  taking into account the vulnerability of children and their need for special protection and assistance.

GRETA, a group of independent experts on action against trafficking in human beings, will monitor implementation of the convention.

Committee of Ministers:  Recommendation No. R (2000) 11 on action against trafficking in Human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation;

Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2001)16 on the protection of children against sexual exploitation;

Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1610 (2003) on migration connected with traficking in women;

Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against transnational organised crime:

Declaration on the fight against trafficking, 6 June 2006/the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Recommendation 165 (2005) on the fight against trafficking in human beings and their sexual exploitation: the role of cities and regions/ the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. See also the Explanatory Memorandum.
List of all relevant Council of Europe texts (see campaign against trafficking below);

List of texts from other international organisations (see campaign against trafficking below).


Activities and other texts

The Council of Europe has been fighting trafficking since the late 1980s. See the Council of Europe website devoted to combatting trafficking in human beings.    

Theme file on trafficking

Fact sheet on trafficking

Council of Europe campaign against trafficking: Human being - not for sale.  This campaign, run by the Division on Equality between Women and Men, started in 2006 and will end in 2008. Besides promoting ratification of the convention  (see  above) the campaign aims to raise awareness of the problem of trafficking as well as possible solutions to it amongst governments, parliamentarians, local and regional authorities, NGOs and civil society.

 The campaign's very thorough website provides links to all relevant legal texts - both internal and external to other international organisations - background documents, activities and conferences, as well as work going on outside the Council of Europe.

The Lara project: (DG-I/DG-II ) anti-trafficking project for South-East Europe/ DG I - Legal Affairs


Points of view

Interview with Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe. This interview took place during preparation of the convention, before its adoption in May 2006. It highlights the challenges involved in drafting the convention, such as reconciling victim protection with EU law on illegal migration, and the need for progress in victim protection and monitoring.

Press releases

24 October 2006: Council of Europe: Italy and other countries committed to ratify the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings