Glossary of terms

On this page:

  • Glossary of terms
  • Abbreviations

Glossary of terms

Asylum seeker

A person who seeks safety from persecution or serious harm in a country other than his or her own, and awaits a decision on the application for refugee status under relevant international and national instruments.

Case of THB for labour exploitation

For the purpose of this website, a case of THB for labour exploitation refers to: an instance of THB for labour exploitation involving one or more suspects and one or more possible victims that could be the subject of, for example, an inspection, investigation and / or prosecution. ‘Case’ can also refer to the inspection, investigation or prosecution itself.

Employment agency

See Recruitment agency.

Indicators (of THB for labour exploitation)

For the purposes of this website, indicators are theoretical points of reference that have been compiled to help officials or citizens identify signs of THB for labour exploitation in practice.

Irregular migrant

A migrant without a residence permit.

Labour exploitation

For the purposes of this website, labour exploitation shall include forced labour or services and (domestic) servitude. It shall not include the exploitation of forced begging or criminal activities, although it is recognised that there may be some overlap between THB for exploitation in the illicit and licit labour markets.

(Labour) inspectorate or (labour) inspector

Member states have different types of inspectorates that could play a role in addressing THB for labour exploitation, such as labour inspectorates, social inspectorates, health and safety inspectorates or fisheries inspectorates. Whenever this text talks about (labour) inspectorates / inspectors, this may refer to any of these types of inspectorates / inspectors.

Migrant smuggling

Intentionally assisting a person who is not a national of a member state to enter, transit across, or reside in the territory of a member state, in breach of the laws of the state concerned on the entry or transit of aliens. EU states may decide not to impose sanctions on those assisting unauthorized entry or transit for humanitarian reasons. See EU Council Directive 2002/90/EC defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence.

Police or criminal investigation service

Responsibility for criminal investigations into THB for labour exploitation may rest with different criminal investigation services. It can vary from country to country and within countries, with some services being responsible for specific aspects of investigation, and some for the whole process of investigation.

In many countries, it is the police who is responsible. But in some, labour inspectorates also have the authority to carry out criminal investigations. In addition, border guards, immigration services or fiscal investigation services (tax authorities) could have powers to carry out (parts of) the investigations into THB for labour exploitation.

On this website, where the terms ‘police’ and ‘criminal investigation service’ are used, they are to be understood to refer to any of these types of criminal investigation services. They also fall under the broader term of Law Enforcement Agency (LEA).

Recruitment agency or Employment agency

Recruitment agency and employment agency are taken to mean the same thing and are both used on this website.
A recruitment or employment agency is an intermediary. It mediates between a business that needs one or more workers and the worker(s) looking for work. It is not responsible for paying a work-seeker after the worker has been introduced to a business. These agencies come in different sizes: they could even consist of just one person with a mobile phone running recruitment services from home.

Signs (of THB for labour exploitation)

For the purposes of this website, signs of THB for labour exploitation are things that professionals or citizens may observe in the course of their work or daily life (based on theoretical indicators) that may suggest that THB for labour exploitation is taking place.


When the word ‘victim’ is used on this website, it refers to a victim of THB for labour exploitation.


EMPACT - European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats

EU - European Union

FIU - Financial Intelligence Unit

FP - Focal Point

ILO - International Labour Organisation

ILOs - Immigration Liaison Officers

IOM - International Organisation for Migration

JHA - Justice and Home Affairs

JIT - Joint Investigation Team

LEA - Law Enforcement Agency

MFA - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MLA - Mutual Legal Assistance

MoU - Memorandum of Understanding

MS - Member State

NGO - Non-Governmental Organisation

NREM - National Rapporteur or Equivalent Mechanism

NRM - National Referral Mechanism

OAP - Operational Action Plan (of an EMPACT project)

OCG - Organised Criminal Group

SOCTA - Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (drawn up by Europol)

THB - Trafficking in Human Beings

TRM - Transnational Referral Mechanism