Protocol against the trafficking of people
Decision 2006/618/EC on the EU’s conclusion of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women And Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime — within the scope of Articles 179 and 181a of the Treaty
Decision 2006/619/EC on the EU’s conclusion of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women And Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime — within the scope of Part III, Title IV of the Treaty
They ratify, on behalf of the EU, the Protocol on trafficking in persons which supplements the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on 15 November 2000.
Annexes II to Decisions 2006/618/EC and 2006/619/EC specify the competence of the EU with regard to matters governed by the protocol.
The purposes of the protocol are to:
prevent and combat transnational trafficking in persons*, especially women and children*, by organised criminal groups;
protect and assist the victims of exploitation*;
promote cooperation among countries in this domain.
Each signatory country must adopt the necessary laws and other measures to establish as criminal offences the acts defined as trafficking in persons, including acting as an accomplice in such acts.
Disputes between the signatories regarding the interpretation or application of the protocol should be settled by negotiation and, failing that, by arbitration.
Where a dispute goes for arbitration, if an arrangement has not been agreed within 6 months, any of the parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
Preventing trafficking in persons
Signatory countries should adopt measures to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, in cooperation with relevant civil society organisations. These measures may include information and media campaigns and social and economic initiatives.
It is also important to address the factors that render people vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Signatory countries are required to:
protect the privacy and identity of victims of trafficking;
give them information on relevant court and administrative proceedings;
provide for their physical, psychological and social recovery, e.g. housing, appropriate care, employment, educational and training opportunities;
allow victims of trafficking to remain in their territory, temporarily or permanently, giving appropriate consideration to humanitarian and compassionate factors;
assist victims to return to their country of origin or to reach another country, with due regard for their safety.
Information exchange and cooperation
The relevant services of the signatory countries agree to exchange information on certain aspects including:
the types of travel documents used for the purpose of people trafficking,
the means and methods used by organised criminal groups for this purpose.
The countries also undertake to strengthen cooperation between their border control services.
Application & Background
They apply from 24 July 2006.
The UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 15 November 2000, came into force on 23 September 2003.
It is supplemented by 3 protocols:
the Protocol against trafficking in persons, which came into force on 25 December 2003,
the Protocol against the smuggling of migrants by land, air and sea, which came into force on 28 January 2004, and
the Protocol against the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in firearms, which came into force on 3 July 2005.
Trafficking in persons: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, 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.
Children: persons under 18 years of age.
Exploitation: 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 Decision 2006/618/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women And Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime concerning the provisions of the Protocol, in so far as the provisions of this Protocol fall within the scope of Articles 179 and 181a of the Treaty establishing the European Community (OJ L 262, 22.9.2006, pp. 44-50)
Council Decision 2006/619/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women And Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime concerning the provisions of the Protocol, in so far as the provisions of the Protocol fall within the scope of Part III, Title IV of the Treaty establishing the European Community (OJ L 262, 22.9.2006, pp. 51-58)
ILO Forced Labour Protocol: ratification by EU countries
Council Decision (EU) 2015/2037 authorising EU countries to ratify the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention (1930), as regards matters relating to social policy
Council Decision (EU) 2015/2071 authorising EU countries to ratify the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention (1930), as regards Articles 1 to 4 of the Protocol, relating to judicial cooperation in criminal mattersThey authorise EU governments to ratify the
Protocol which the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted in 2014 and call for them to do so by the end of 2016. This gives new impetus to ILO’s Forced Labour Convention of 1930 in preventing the use of forced labour, in particular in the context of trafficking in persons, protecting victims and providing access to remedies.
The ILO Forced Labour Protocol covers areas of social policy and judicial cooperation in criminal matters which come under the EU’s competence.
The EU as such cannot ratify the protocol. Only individual EU countries may do so. The 2 decisions authorise EU governments to ratify the text, ‘acting jointly in the interests of the Union’.
Decision 2015/2037 covers areas of social policy in the Protocol, such as the employment relationship, working time, temporary agency work, and health and safety at work which are already the object of EU legislation.
Decision 2015/2071 covers criminal matters in the Protocol, such as the protection of victims of crime. The EU has already legislated in this area with directives on combating trafficking in human beings and protection of victims.
Application & Background
On the basis of its opt-out for the area of freedom, security and justice, Denmark is not bound by Decision 2015/2071.
Countries ratifying the Forced Labour Protocol are required to develop a national policy and plan of action and engage in international cooperation for the suppression of forced labour, in consultation with social partners. They must take measures to prevent forced labour, to improve the protection of victims and to provide them access to remedies, including compensation.
Forced labour is work performed involuntarily and under coercion and is universally recognised as a crime since the ILO landmark Forced Labour Convention No 29 as adopted in 1930.
However, the ILO estimates that 20.9 million people around the world are still victims of forced labour. The vast majority of them are now in the private economy, in particular in the form of trafficking for labour exploitation. The Forced Labour Protocol and Recommendation, adopted by the ILO in 2014, aim at stepping up the global fight against all forms of forced labour.
They apply from 12 November 2015. EU countries should take the necessary steps to deposit their instruments of ratification by 31 December 2016.
For more information, see
International Labour Standards on Forced Labour on the International Labour Organisation’s website
Council Decision (EU) 2015/2037 of 10 November 2015 authorising Member States to ratify, in the interests of the European Union, the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, of the International Labour Organisation with regard to matters relating to social policy (OJ L 298, 14.11.2015, pp. 23-24)
Council Decision (EU) 2015/2071 of 10 November 2015 authorising Member States to ratify, in the interests of the European Union, the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, of the International Labour Organisation as regards Articles 1 to 4 of the Protocol with regard to matters relating to judicial cooperation in criminal matters (OJ L 301, 18.11.2015, pp. 47-48)
Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930
EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment
Guidelines to EU policy towards non-EU countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
They create an operational tool to be used by the EU in contacts with non-EU countries in order to combat torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment (e.g. beating while in custody).
The EU combats torture and ill treatment through the support of international instruments (e.g. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva Conventions, Statute of the International Criminal Court, etc.), and through measures within its common foreign and security policy (CFSP), such as the regulation of trade in instruments of torture.
EU actions for combating torture and ill-treatment in relations with non-EU countries consist of the following:
establishing political dialogues with non-EU countries and regional organisations. The guidelines on human rights dialogues establish clear conditions and principles in this area;
taking political initiatives (démarches) and issuing public statements urging relevant non-EU countries to undertake effective measures against torture and other ill-treatment;
promoting collaboration with civil society in bilateral and multilateral cooperation, in particular under the EU’s action plan on human rights and democracy (2015-2019) which supports NGOs in combating torture;
observation roles for EU embassy representatives in trials where it is feared that the defendant has been subjected to torture or ill-treatment.
Under these guidelines, the EU urges non-EU countries to take the following measures:
prevent, prohibit and condemn torture and ill-treatment;
adhere to and implement international norms and procedures (e.g. United Nations Convention Against Torture);
create safeguards and procedures relating to places of detention;
provide rehabilitation and reparation for victims;
establish domestic legal guarantees;
establish groups requiring special attention (e.g. refugees, asylum seekers, or prisoners);
allow detention-monitoring mechanisms;
establish national institutions for the prevention of torture;
strengthen the justice system;
provide effective training for law enforcement, military and health personnel in dealing with torture and ill-treatment;
prevent any form of intimidation or reprisal;
Respect for human rights is one of the key priorities in the EU’s external relations. Combating torture and ill-treatment is a necessary part of this work, despite the existence of numerous international instruments that prohibit this type of serious violation of human dignity.
The actions of the EU, strongly supported by all of its countries, aim to prevent and eliminate torture and ill-treatment and to combat the impunity of those responsible. This work complements the EU action to combat the death penalty.
Guidelines to EU Policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment — An up-date of the Guidelines 6129/1/12 REV1, 20 March 2012
EU guidelines on death penalty
Political and Security Committee — EU guidelines on death penalty — Common guidelines
They create an operational tool to be used by the EU towards working to abolish the death penalty across the globe. In non-EU countries where the death penalty still exists, the EU urges them to restrict and reconsider the use of it.
They form an integral part of the EU’s action plan for human rights and democracy.
In non-EU countries where the death penalty still exists, the EU urges them to restrict it by abiding to minimum standards, such as not issuing the death penalty for non-violent crimes, or as a mandatory sentence.
The EU intervenes (through public statements and diplomatic representations) both on individual cases and at a general policy level when a non-EU country changes its stance towards using the death penalty.
EU funding allows non-governmental organisations to advocate and campaign for the abolition of the death penalty.
The EU will seize all appropriate opportunities to raise the issue of abolishing the death penalty in relevant multilateral forums (e.g. United Nations Human Rights Council).
The EU considers the death penalty to be a serious violation of human rights and human dignity. No compelling evidence exists to show that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime. Moreover, it can lead to the killing of innocent people (should verdicts be overturned).
The EU advocates a ban on the death penalty as a first step towards abolition. The United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions on this in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, which has built momentum worldwide.
Political and Security Committee — EU guidelines on death penalty — Common guidelines, 12 April 2013