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What is Human Trafficking?

The first international definition of human trafficking was introduced in 2000 by the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (art. 3). This definition was reaffirmed in 2005 in the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005).

The Convention of the Council of Europe provides that "human trafficking" is comprised of three main elements:

[ACT] the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons

[MEANS] threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person

[PURPOSE] the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs

Paragraph (b) of Article 4 specifies that the consent of a victim of human trafficking is "irrelevant where any of the means [provided in paragraph a] have been used."

Paragraph (e) of Article 4 defines "victim" as "any natural person who is subject to trafficking in human beings as defined in [article 4]."

The French Penal Code defines human trafficking as "the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring, or receipt of a person in exchange for remuneration or any other benefit or for the promise of remuneration or any other benefit, in order to put that person at the actor's disposal or at the disposal of a third party, whether identified or not, so as to permit the commission against that person of offences of procuring, sexual assault or attack, exploitation for begging, or the imposition of living or working conditions inconsistent with human dignity, or to force this person to commit any felony or misdemeanor (Article 225-4-1 of the French Penal Code).