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4. People-smuggling and trafficking

People-trafficking mainly involves economic exploitation (hospitality industry, construction, domestic labour) and sexual exploitation. But other kinds of exploitation can also be found in connection with people-trafficking, including the exploitation of forced begging or of an individual’s vulnerability in order to force them to commit crimes or offences, for example the illegal residents who are forced to sell drugs. The final type of trafficking identified in the Law of 10 August 2005 concerns the removal of and trafficking in human organs.

There is also an issue with slum landlords: while the provision of premises by slum landlords is not strictly a form of human trafficking, it can be associated with human trafficking or, in some cases, with people-smuggling. In some instances, the practices of slum landlords can be an indicator of human trafficking, for example when employers house the workers they are exploiting under wretched conditions in building that they own.

People-smuggling, which must be distinguished from trafficking, is directly linked with migration, and refers to the smugglers who organise the transport, entry and illegal stay of people from outside the European Union, involving sometimes very large sums of money, often representing an exorbitant expense for the people who venture to take the risk. Starting from circumstances of vulnerability or from crises in the countries of origin, smuggling may also lead to trafficking where it is linked to false promises of work on arrival: people who have resorted to smuggling networks often have to repay their debts by working in prostitution, restaurants, etc., under wretched conditions. Migrants may also be exploited en route. Here again, adapted attention needs to be paid to the plight of minors, especially unaccompanied minors.

One of the major problems involved in these types of exploitation is detection, partly because exploitation is not very visible and partly because victims are not always aware of their exploitation, for psychological and economic reasons. Victims are sometimes on the receiving end of physical or psychological violence which it is difficult to escape. Against this background, it is important to recall the application of the national referral system for victims, organised in a circular of 26 September 2008 on the establishment of multidisciplinary cooperation concerning human trafficking and/or certain aggravated forms of human smuggling (see below). 

In terms of detection, the front-line associations active in combating prostitution have an important role to play because of their way of approaching this issue (non-judgmental, offer of free and anonymous medical screening, distribution of prevention materials, etc.); they can develop a privileged relation of trust with people who are potentially victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The police come into the picture when trafficking has already occurred and try to put an end to it, while offering prospects to the victims. Crime policy in this area mainly focuses on economic and sexual exploitation, with particular attention to the exploitation of minors.

From a legal perspective, the circular COL 01/15 defines the investigation and prosecution policy in terms of trafficking in human beings, and there is also a brochure on the indicators of exploitation for the use of police and labour inspectorates. Recently, the circular COL 20/16 set out the investigation and prosecution policy concerning the exploitation of forced begging. Circular COL 04/2011 on the policy for the investigation and prosecution of people-smuggling sets out crime policy in the area. Finally, the multi-disciplinary circular of 2008 allows the system of protection provided for victims of trafficking to be extended in certain cases to smuggling victims.