Definition of THB for labour exploitation

The EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims (2011/36/EU) defines trafficking in human beings as:

‘1. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons, including the exchange or transfer of control over those 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.
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3. Exploitation shall include, as a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, including forced begging, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the exploitation of criminal activities, or the removal of organs.’

See Article 2 of EU Directive 2011/36/EU.

Based on this definition, for the purposes of this website, labour exploitation has been defined to include forced labour or services and (domestic) servitude.

Action, means and purpose

As article 2 shows, trafficking in human beings has three components:

  • an action
  • a means, and
  • a purpose.

When the victim is a child, paragraph 5 of article 2 of the Directive determines that even if none of the means mentioned in paragraph 1 have been used, it is still trafficking in human beings.

In the ‘Practical Tool for First level identification of victims of human trafficking for labour exploitation’  the actions, means and purposes included in the definition of the EU directive are summarised as follows:

Action:

  • Recruitment
  • Transportation
  • Transfer
  • Harbouring
  • Reception of persons
  • Exchange of transfer of control over those persons.

Means:

  • Threat
  • Use of force
  • Other forms of coercion
  • Abduction
  • Fraud
  • Deception
  • Abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability
  • Giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person.

Purposes:

  • Exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation
  • Forced labour or services, including begging
  • Slavery or practices similar to slavery
  • Servitude
  • Exploitation of criminal activities
  • The removal of organs.

Other instruments than prosecution

Criminal law is often the first thing that comes to mind when discussing ways to tackle THB for labour exploitation. But labour and social law, fiscal law, migration law and administrative law may also be relevant. This means that there are several other instruments available to tackle THB for labour exploitation besides prosecution.

Having more options is especially helpful since poor working conditions involve a continuum: the line between bad employment practices and THB for labour exploitation is not always clear. Where relevant, this website will therefore also refer to EU legislation, national legislation or national powers in the areas of labour and social law, fiscal law, migration law and administrative law.

See a brief overview of international and EU legislation on THB for labour exploitation.