La Strada Documentation Center

Policy paper: The Impact of Criminalising the ‘Knowing Use’ on Human Trafficking

Document number
8 December 2022
Policy paper: The Impact of Criminalising the ‘Knowing Use’ on Human Trafficking
La Strada International
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Document type(s)
LSI publication,
policy trafficking article 18.4 EU Trafficking Directive criminalising knowingly use services trafficked persons
Currently, article 18(4) of this Directive only recommends criminalising the ‘knowing use of services provided by trafficked persons’. As there currently is only very limited research available on the possible impact and side effects of criminalising the ‘knowing use’, especially regarding the use of this provision for all forms of exploitation, La Strada International has conducted a series of interviews with 19 experts from 10 EU countries, to reveal the practical effects seen by experts in the field.

Through this small-scale assessment, complemented with desk research, La Strada International concludes that there is currently no proven impact of this criminalisation on combatting human trafficking. While two-thirds of the EU Member States have already introduced this provision in national legislation, there is only very limited prosecutorial activity and few convictions across the EU. Furthermore, the interviewees expressed a range of concerns regarding the harmful side effects for victims and precarious (sex) workers, including the increased vulnerability and stigmatisation, as well as risks of secondary victimisation and eroding trafficked persons’ rights.