Trafficking in human beings is a violation of human rights, and the Council of Europe’s Convention on action against trafficking in human beings is an important step to stamping out this abuse worldwide. It is monitored by the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and the Committee of the Parties: on the basis of GRETA’s reports, the Committee of the Parties adopts recommendations addressed to the country concerned. In addition, GRETA can launch an urgent procedure to prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations. The Council of Europe also assists states in implementing the convention, through targeted co-operation activities.

Civil society is an important source of information for GRETA. The convention provides for co-operation and strategic partnerships with civil society, which can help governments fulfil their obligations. Prior to each country evaluation visit, GRETA seeks information directly from civil society, based on a questionnaire, and NGOs may answer some or all of the questions. NGOs can also decide to provide a joint report. Guidance for NGOs to report to GRETAhas been developed by two INGOs.

During country evaluation visits, GRETA holds meetings with civil society representatives (specialised NGOs, trade unions, research institutes, and so on) and it may also visit shelters for victims of trafficking run by NGOs. Civil society is also active in the implementation of the convention through awareness raising, research, training, detecting victims of trafficking, providing them with accommodation and other assistance, and supporting them through the criminal justice process and to claim compensation. GRETA periodically organises hearings with NGOs. The Committee of the Parties can also invite international NGOs as observers to its meetings.