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Forced Labour, Child Labour and Human Trafficking in Europe: an ILO Perspective

Document number
Forced Labour, Child Labour and Human Trafficking in Europe: an ILO Perspective
International Labour Office (ILO)
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Document type(s)
EU/IOM STOP “European Conference on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings”, Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL), International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), Inter-organisational co-operation, International co-operation, Criminalisation, Punishment, Legal remedies, Demand, Prostitution, Abolitionism, Prohibitionism, Clients, Sex work, Sexual exploitation, Labour exploitation, Domestic labour, Palermo protocol; Anti-trafficking measures; Crime prevention; United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; Definition (of Trafficking), Migrant workers, Irregular migration, Labour migration, Labour exploitation, Human Rights approach, Prevention, Information campaign, Protection, Prosecution, Law enforcement,
Technical paper for the EU/IOM STOP “European Conference on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings”, 18-20 September 2002, Brussels, Belgium Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL) and International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC): This paper aims to set out the particular contribution of the International Labour Organisation, in the global campaign against trafficking in persons. It is clear that the ILO has a major role to play, both as a normative organization which has adopted key Conventions against both forced labour and child labour, including its recent and widely ratified 1998 Convention against the Worst Forms of Child Labour; and as an agency with very widespread experience in research and technical cooperation. The ILO has been well equipped to address the multiple challenges involved by the trafficking cycle in origin, transit and also destination countries.[...] Until quite recently, the main concern of public opinion has been with trafficking for sexual exploitation. Certainly, this has dominated media reporting. And in Europe, it is the appalling treatment of the young women and even children from Albania, Moldova and the Ukraine for example, forced into prostitution in countries of Central and Western Europe, that has received most of the attention in meetings of this kind. However there seems to be a growing realization that trafficking for labour exploitation, though little documented or understood at present, should at least in Europe move higher up the policy agenda. This aspect of trafficking is strongly emphasized in the European Commission’s 2001 strategy paper on the subject, which refers specifically to “labour exploitation in conditions akin to slavery”. More recently, the EC’s July 2002 Council Framework Decision on the subject refers to offences for the purposes of labour exploitation or sexual exploitation. The most recent report by the US Department of State makes similar observations, pointing to cases of trafficking of men, women and children for forced labour in agriculture, domestic service, construction work and sweatshops. Yet while there is growing international acceptance of the need to combat the two main forms of trafficking, for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation respectively, very little headway has been made with regard to the latter. Even with regard to sexual exploitation, in view of the hidden nature of the phenomenon, it has proved notoriously difficult to obtain reliable data. Efforts are at least being made. Initial attempts are being made to estimate the number of victims by country and region. Special police and other units are beginning to investigate, and new laws are being adopted to provide special protection for the victims.[...] With regard to trafficking for labour exploitation, a huge amount remains to be done before one can even begin to think of effective remedies. Despite the new international guidelines and directives, there appears to be little understanding of the concept in practice. What sets trafficking for labour exploitation apart from smuggling? In which economic sectors are abuses of this kind likely to be found? How can labour inspection services best monitor the phenomenon, together with other law enforcement agencies? What tend to be the linkages between employment and job placement agencies, and trafficking intermediaries? How can migration for employment be managed more effectively, in order to eradicate the risk of this form of trafficking?
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