The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol) is a protocol to the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. It is one of the two Palermo protocols, the other one being the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000.
The Trafficking Protocol entered into force on 25 December 2003. By October 2009, the Protocol had been signed by 117 countries, and there were 133 parties.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is responsible for implementing the Protocol. It offers practical help to states with drafting laws, creating comprehensive national anti-trafficking strategies, and assisting with resources to implement them. In March 2009, UNODC launched the Blue Heart Campaign to fight human trafficking, to raise awareness, and to encourage involvement and inspire action.
The Protocol commits of ratifying states to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking and promoting cooperation among states in order to meet those objectives.
Content of the protocol
The Protocol covers the following:
- defining the crime of trafficking in human beings; essentially, trafficking is the transport of persons, by means of coercion, deception, or consent for the purpose of exploitation such as forced or consensual labor or prostitution:
- "Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of 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. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs... The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above] have been used.
- facilitating the return and acceptance of children who have been victims of cross-border trafficking, with due regard to their safety;
- prohibiting the trafficking of children (which is defined as being a person under 18 years of age) for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), exploitative labour practices or the removal of body parts;
- suspending parental rights of parents, caregivers or any other persons who have parental rights in respect of a child should they be found to have trafficked a child;
- ensuring that definitions of trafficking reflect the need for special safeguards and care for children, including appropriate legal protection;
- ensuring that trafficked persons are not punished for any offences or activities related to their having been trafficked, such as prostitution and immigration violations;
- ensuring that victims of trafficking are protected from deportation or return where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that such return would represent a significant security risk to the trafficked person or their family;
- considering temporary or permanent residence in countries of transit or destination for trafficking victims in exchange for testimony against alleged traffickers, or on humanitarian and compassionate grounds;
- providing for proportional criminal penalties to be applied to persons found guilty of trafficking in aggravating circumstances, including offences involving trafficking in children or offences committed or involving complicity by state officials; and,
- providing for the confiscation of the instruments and proceeds of trafficking and related offences to be used for the benefit of trafficked persons.
The Convention and the Protocol obligate ratifying states to introduce national trafficking legislation.