Definition of Human Trafficking

Publication Date: 
2008
Resource Origin: 
Springtide

Human Trafficking [1] is defined in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (“Trafficking Protocol”), which has widespread international support with 147 signatories, including Canada as:


(a) “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 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;


(d) “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age  


In plain language trafficking in persons involves each of the following elements:



  • Acts: recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person

  • Means: threats, use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception or abuse of power

  • Purpose: forced labour or services, slavery or servitude


[1] Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, U.N.G.A. Res. 55/25, Annex II at 31-39, U.N. Doc. A/55/25 (15 November 2000), entered into force 25 December 2003, available online: http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/a_res_55/res5525e.pdf