Hands tied up with chains against blue skyTrafficking in human beings (THB) is a crime driven by high profits and by the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation. It is a priority crime area of the 2018-2021 EU Policy Cycle for organised and serious international crime, with a focus on all forms of exploitation.

The European Commission Communication “Reporting on the follow-up to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of trafficking in human beings and identifying further concrete actions” (“2017 Communication”) sets out disrupting the business model and untangling the trafficking chain as a priority, including by countering the culture of impunity that prevails for both perpetrators and users.

Countering the culture of impunity (not only for the criminals, but also the exploiters and users of the services of victims) that fosters THB remains a political challenge in order to eradicate this phenomenon. Following the money throughout the trafficking chain is crucial to turning trafficking in human beings into a ‚high-risk, low-return‘ crime.

The Second Progress Report also evidenced a need for a multidisciplinary approach to disrupt the trafficking chain, involving cooperation of a wide range of actors and pointed out that further efforts are needed to counter impunity by ensuring that those who exploit and abuse victims are brought to justice.

Furthermore, the Third Progress Report highlighted the need for a greater focus on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the generating of illicit profits and the intensification of criminal activities, exacerbating people’s vulnerability to THB, including in areas of sexual and labour exploitation. Emerging patterns show that the use of the internet, social media and the deployment of new technology in many stages of the trafficking chain, from recruitment to the shifting of illicit funds, is becoming more prominent and needs to be better addressed.