Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Communication and Cooperation between European Union Authorities Fighting Trafficking in Human Beings

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Communication and Cooperation between European Union Authorities Fighting Trafficking in Human Beings

Article excerpt


Human trafficking is a crime that transcends national frontiers. Victims are recruited, transported and harboured by force or deceit and exploit afterwards. Prostitution, forced labour, begging, drug trafficking, domestic servitude, removal of organs are the most common forms of exploit for human trafficking victims. Anyone can be the victim of human trafficking: women or men, children or adults.

In Europe, human trafficking varies in degrees and forms influenced by political, economic and social factors. During the last 20 years, human trafficking has become an acknowledged European reality that national and continental authorities have to deal with. Economically, human trafficking is very profitable, generating estimated gains of dozens of billions of euro annually, money that are fuelling the underground economy.

Thus, curbing and better, eradicating human trafficking in Europe has become a priority for the Council of Europe, the European Union and other European and international organizations. However, due to the nature of this crime, fighting cannot be done without cooperation between nations. Communication of information is essential in the case of international criminal justice.

In time, the formal, diplomatic traditional channels have been replaced with less formal transnational intergovernmental criminal law networks that specialise in different operations and different phases of uncovering and sanctioning human traffickers. Usually, there are two types of networks: the coordination and support networks and the joint action networks1. These networks not only facilitate operative actions across countries but also contribute to the development international criminal law.


Europe faces an ultra-active organized crime proliferating trafficking in human beings. European Union (EU) legislation in this field is considered by practitioners and theoreticians as one of the best in terms of objectives, the broad legal language and the various common criminal law tools it provides for EU member states. However, in spite of an articulated legal framework, positive results are awaited since not all member states comply with the EU directives or the provisions of the conventions in the field and, at the same time, due to the lack of sanctions for EU member states that would force them to promptly act and support the common efforts to control and ideally stop human trafficking in Europe.

The European Union Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 confirms the commitment of member states to fight this lucrative crime with all legal and infrastructure means that it possess. Of course, the strategy does not rely solely on the application of material and procedural criminal law provisions but also on different policy instruments that are dealing with various factors that determine human trafficking on the EU territory, such as lack of democracy, of social integration, of education, of employment, discrimination, poverty, gender inequality etc.

Article 5 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits human trafficking. Also, Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victim2 is the most important and comprehensive legal common instrument that the EU presently has.

EU legal efforts have also been coupled with a lot of joint actions and funding programmes in partnership with various European governments and other regional and international organizations.

The EU strategy against trafficking in human beings reveals a multi-disciplinary approach, stating as key goals: "identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking; stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings; increased prosecution of traffickers; enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence; increased knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings"3. …

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