Per the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime of 2000(“The Palermo Protocol”):
‘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;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
(c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered ‘trafficking in persons’ even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
This is the most recent definition of human trafficking in a long line of international conventions that have attempted to suppress and prevent trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation since the "International Agreement For The Suppression Of The 'White Slave Traffic'" of 1905.
Human trafficking is distinguishable from human smuggling in several ways:
1. The Purpose of the Movement
Trafficking: Exploitation of the individual’s sexuality/labor for profit.
Smuggling: Movement for profit
2. The Nature and Quality of Consent
Trafficking: Consent for movement may be present, but is nullified by force, coercion, deception, abuse of power or of another’s vulnerability, etc. Consent to move or recruit individual is predicated on a false idea or misconception, or is coerced by threats and manipulation
Smuggling: Consent for movement clearly present. The individual agrees to the movement or transportation
3. Nature of the Relationship Between the Individual and the Facilitator/Agent
Trafficking: Victim-Exploiter. A long-term relationship extending beyond the movement phase (although initial facilitator may be a link in the chain, there is continuity in the individual’s relationship with the trafficker/s).
Smuggling: Buyer/Supplier. Short-term relationship. Terminates upon completion of movement.
5. The Profit Element
Trafficking: Major profit source is the exploitation.
Smuggling: Sole profit source is the movement.
6. Violence and Intimidation
Trafficking: Characteristic of trafficking and generally necessary to maintain victim in exploitative situation.
Smuggling: Incidental to movement.
7. Autonomy and Freedom
Trafficking: Severely compromised – either cannot leave – kept under watch, guarded or locked in places or threatened to not leave (various methods can apply here – beatings, verbal threats)
Smuggling: Generally not severely compromised except to extent require for successful movement. After movement is completed, the individual regains freedom.
To be trafficked a person does not necessarily have to move across international borders - more governments and NGOs/IGOs have agreed that trafficking can occur within domestic borders.
A person can actually have been smuggled into a country and upon arrival be forced into an exploitative labor situation making them trafficked. The consent to the movement is irrelevant in regards to the exploitation that follows after a person arrives.
Debt Bondage, peonage, indentured servitude are all common forms of trafficking.
A young woman in the Ukraine is offered a job to work as a nanny in the UK. She arrives in the UK and her passport and travel documents are taken from her, she is made to stay inside the house all day, she cleans the house, cooks all the meals and cares for the children everyday with no rest days, the employer beats her and never pays her the salary he promised. Her employer tells her that the police will deport her if she tries to escape. She is a victim of human trafficking.