Trafficking for labour exploitation is on the rise across Europe. In several countries, it has overtaken sexual exploitation as the main form of human trafficking. Official figures underestimate the true scale of the problem and there have been few successful prosecutions and convictions.
These are among the main findings of the latest annual report from the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), published today.
Based on GRETA’s country-by-country monitoring work, the report says that labour exploitation has emerged as the predominant form of trafficking in several European countries including Belgium, Cyprus, Georgia, Portugal, Serbia and the United Kingdom.
However, all countries that have been evaluated twice by GRETA so far have indicated an upward trend in trafficking for labour exploitation in recent years.
The report states that most identified victims are men, although women and children are also affected.
Men are often exploited in industries including agriculture, construction and fisheries whereas women tend to be exploited in more isolated settings such as domestic or care work – where they are sometimes victims of both labour and sexual exploitation.
“Our monitoring shows that more and more people are being trafficked to work in awful conditions in Europe, both within and across national borders,” said GRETA President Siobhán Mullally.
“Victims are often reluctant to come forward as they may fear deportation or retaliation from criminal trafficking networks. Prosecutions and convictions of the perpetrators are also very rare.
“Some countries have already made important steps forward in this area, but many others need to improve their policies and practices. States across Europe need to work closely together with NGOs, trade unions and the private sector to help end this heinous exploitation and abuse.”
Published on the COE on April 3, 2018