What is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking is a crime and a human rights violation. For a situation to be one of trafficking three distinct elements (act, means, purpose) must be fulfilled:

  1. The ACT of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons must be done by...
  2. the MEANS such as the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments, and it must be for...
  3. the PURPOSE OF EXPLOITATION i.e. sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, forced begging, forced criminality or organ removal.




Two important notes:

  1. A child cannot consent to being trafficked, therefore the mere ACT act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a child FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXPLOITATION constitutes trafficking.
  2. There is no requirement that a person must have crossed a border for trafficking to have taken place – it can and does take place within national borders.


Legal definition

Irish legislation

Section 1 of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, states that:

“trafficks” means, in relation to a person (including a child)—

(a) procures, recruits, transports or harbours the person, or

  1. transfers the person to,

  2. places the person in the custody, care or charge, or under the control, of, or

  3. otherwise delivers the person to,

another person,

(b) causes a person to enter or leave the State or to travel within the State,
(c) takes custody of a person or takes a person—

  1. into one’s care or charge, or

  2. under one’s control,


(d) provides the person with accommodation or employment



International definitions

The following definition of human trafficking is set out in

a) Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings

b) UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime


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.