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Council of Europe: Anti-Human Trafficking Convention Now in Force

(Mar. 2, 2008) On February 1, 2008, the Council of Europe's (COE) Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which opened for signature on May 16, 2005, entered into force for the first ten countries that ratified the Convention. These include COE Member States Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia. The purpose of the Convention is to prevent trafficking in all forms (national and transnational, organized-crime related or not), protect the human rights of victims, and prosecute traffickers. On May 1, the Convention will become effective for Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, and Norway. Twenty-four other Member States have signed but not ratified the treaty; ten have not yet signed it. Non-member states (which at present include Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Mexico, and the United States) and the European Community are also eligible to become party to the Convention. (Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings Entered into Force on 1 February 2008, LEGAL NEWS (Feb. 5, 2008), available at http://www.legislationline.org.) Under the Convention, "trafficking in human beings" means:

  • 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; … .

(Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking CETS No.: 197, Council of Europe Web site, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?
NT=197&CM=1&CL=ENG
(last visited Mar. 6, 2008).)