Human trafficking is is believed to be the third most lucrative form of crime after drugs and arms trafficking. It is a crime against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that knows no borders, almost no state is spared from this crime against humanity as a country of origin, transit or destination of victims. Each year, it generates several victims, most of them are women and children, which is very disturbing. 

This phenomenon went unrecognized for many years, due to lack of awareness, but it has emerged strongly in recent times, thanks to the institutional actions carried out by institutions and international humanitarian aid organizations.

The term “human trafficking” has been used to deal with a wide range of crimes and human rights violations associated with the recruitment, displacement and sale of people in conditions of “exploitation” or “slavery”. People were deceived or coerced into a myriad of different forms of involuntary servitude, from begging for domestic service, from agricultural work to prostitution. Some migrants voluntarily, seek studies or opportunities abroad, to then be victims of false promises upon arrival. Others are linked and constrained to situations of exploitation in their own country. All face restricted freedom and abuse, whether physical, verbal or psychological. Human traffickers take advantage of vulnerability and the need of work of others to deceive them, while harming the psychological and physical well-being of their victims. A vulnerable victim who finds himself in a difficult situation materially, and who ends up trusting a trafficker, sells him a dream, a job abroad and a new life. So they take advantage of people’s dreams and impact them for their own benefit. It is important to stress that it is a process, it does not happen all at once to cut. We therefore speak of an act of recruitment: this includes recruitment and transport of victims to the place where they will be exploited without the victims knowing. The traffickers use means: threatening the victims or forcing them to follow their orders, kidnap or deceive them and abuse their powers. Going up to promising sums of money or benefits that lead the victim to cooperate. Finally, the point of it all is the exploitation of human beings. 


Current state of the phenomenon and Global Statistics

The European Court of Human Rights contains no express reference to human trafficking, its inspiration is certainly the Declaration of human rights which also does not really mention it but abolished in its article 4, “slavery and the slave trade in all their forms”. The European Court of Human Rights observes that trafficking in human beings on a global scale has grown significantly in recent years. Indeed, in Europe, this phenomenon has been facilitated in part by the collapse of the communist bloc. The conclusion of the Palermo Protocol in 2000 and the Council’s anti-trafficking convention of Europe in 2005 show the growing international recognition of the scale of the problem and the need to combat it. Several international texts apply with regard to the treatment of human beings. In 142 countries, the number of victims of human trafficking is increasing. More than 70% of them are women. Sexual exploitation, accounting for nearly 60% of the causes of trafficking, is the first form of violence suffered. 

In total in 2016, nearly 25,000 people were victims of traffic, in 97 countries, an average of 254 per country. A constantly increasing number which testifies to the greatest number of reports. But it should be noted that these statistics are on the whole lower than the reality of the traffic given its clandestine character , and can be greatly underestimated in regions where the identification and the census of the populations concerned are less obvious. It’s the case of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, for example. 

Exploitation of human beings earns large sums of money for organized criminals groups. Although the figures vary, an estimate by the International Labour Organization carried out in 2005 indicates that around 2.4 million trafficked persons and that the profits made by the traffickers amount to some US $ 32 billion. In Europe, human trafficking is one of the most lucrative illicit activities and sexual exploitation exual exploitation earns criminal groups about $ 3 billion a year annually of United States. 

The problem of human trafficking and multiple human rights violations resulting from this is one of the most difficult and urgent questions that the international community is facing today. The difficulty is linked to the different political contexts and geographic dimensions of the problem; to the diversity of approaches; the mobility and adaptability of traffickers; to the specificity of the situations and needs of victims of trafficking; the inadequacy of the legal framework and the lack of research. 

Several international texts apply to trafficking in human beings: 

  • Palermo Protocol 
  • Warsaw Convention 
  • Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings 


What about the Victims? 

Victims should be in the heart of all occupations. 

The United Nations, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Council of human rights and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, contribute regularly, globally, research, prevention and protection in human trafficking. 

According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), an anti-trafficking federal law established in 2000 under President Clinton’s administration, “human trafficking” is defined as the exploitation of a person or persons for sex or labor using “force, fraud, or coercion.” 

The person or persons victims of violation of human rights are entitled to protection, assistance, prosecution and prevention. It is the approach that is used by all the organizations. 

– Protection and assistance : Protection and immediate assistance are essential. The victim being a person vulnerable, suffering from insecurity, psychological problems, physically injured and emotionally traumatized needs help and protection. It is a responsibility that be the responsibility of the State as soon as it becomes aware that a person is a victim of trafficking that either national or transnational victims of trafficking should not be detained, charged or prosecuted on the grounds that they entered or reside in such a illegal in the countries of transit or destination, nor for having taken part in illicit activities when they have been forced to do so by their condition of victim of Trafficking. 

– Repression and prosecution : The suppression of trafficking includes all actions taken to prosecute and sanction the traffickers of the offense and bring traffickers to justice for their crimes against humanity.

 – Prevention : is the most important. By increasing awareness around us and fighting against root causes.

Partnerships, to highlight the need to strengthen cooperation with international organizations and other partners, especially on issues related to law enforcement, national referral mechanisms and cooperation between public institutions and the private sector. 

To combat trafficking in its various proposed texts, general measures, a framework of action and methodology, means of prevention, assistance and protection of victims, the strengthening of criminal legislation and judicial cooperation as well as international cooperation and coordination arrangements. 


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By Sara Alaoui Lamdghri

Sara Alaoui Lamdaghri completed her Master degree in Human rights and criminology from Faculty Hassan II of Law- Mohammedia in Morocco. Her research focuses on fighting against Human trafficking, especially the rehabilitation of the victims of human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation of women and children.

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