Trafficking in Human Beings

Trafficking in human beings has been an important subject matter for the Research Unit. Partly reflecting the origins of the (more recent) trafficking discourse in wider concerns about irregular migration, human smuggling and the potential for exploitation of migrants with a precarious legal status, many of the studies on irregular migration conducted by the Research Unit touch on aspects of trafficking in human beings. Moreover, the research activities carried out by the Research team assist members of the academic community who deal with the topic in their own research.

Trafficking and related aspects of exploitation have been addressed specifically in two recent research projects conducted by the Research Unit. The study titled the 'Assessment of the Extent of Different Types of Trafficking', commissioned by DG Home of the European Commission, systematically compiled statistical data on trafficking in human beings and provided the first Europe-wide data collection on trafficking in 17 EU Member States.

The study 'The Typology and Policy Responses to Child Begging in the EU' also dealt with the phenomenon of trafficking in reference to child begging. While child begging does not necessarily involve trafficking in terms of the legal concept of trafficking in human beings, it may do so in certain circumstances and, moreover, is likely to involve serious forms of exploitation and violations of the right of the child not constituting trafficking.

The earlier study on human smuggling and trafficking in migrants also addressed trafficking, but from a critical perspective, highlighting that smuggling needs to be sharply distinguished from trafficking. Not only does irregular migration with the support of smugglers rarely involve trafficking in the narrow sense of the term, but smugglers themselves have a strong incentive in 'delivering their service' to the satisfaction of migrants, to maintain and enhance their reputation.

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