The definition utilised for the term ‘human trafficking’ is the definition provided in the The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. This protocol entered into force on 25 December 2003 and 173 jurisdictions have ratified or acceded to it as of January 2018.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Palermo Protocol) defines human trafficking or trafficking in persons:
“Trafficking in Persons”… mean[s] the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of 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, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. (Article 3, paragraph (a)).
The Protocol further elaborates that the consent of a trafficked person may be rendered irrelevant when obtained through improper means:
The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used; (Article 3, paragraph (b)).
In the case of trafficked children, the Protocol elaborates that the vulnerable status of children makes it impossible for them to consent regardless of whether any improper means were used or not:
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons" even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article; (Article 3, paragraph (c)).
"Child" shall mean any person under eighteen. (Article 3, paragraph (d)).
Note that in this definition, a trafficking victim is not necessarily moved from one location to another. Human trafficking is not a form of smuggling. A person could be smuggled across a border without being trafficked and a person could be trafficked without ever leaving her home city.
Contrary to a common misconception, people don’t necessarily have to be transported across borders for trafficking to take place. In fact, transporting or moving the victim doesn’t necessarily define trafficking.
People often confuse human trafficking and people smuggling. People smuggling is the illegal movement of people across international borders for a fee. On arrival, the smuggled person is free. Human trafficking is different. The trafficker is moving a person for exploitation. There is no need to cross an international border. Human trafficking occurs at a national level, or even within one community.
IMAGE CREDIT: Anti-Slavery