Trafficking in Human Beings

Learning from Asian and European Experiences

Europe and Asia are closely linked on the issue of human trafficking. A large number of Asian nationals are being trafficked and smuggled to Europe to work in the sex industry, as berry pickers or in labour-intensive industries. In this context, closer cooperation between Europe and Asia is desirable. In order to contribute to the understanding of the current developments and initiatives on trafficking in human beings, this publication includes papers with perspectives from Europe and Asia. What are the current trends? What strategies do countries apply? How can they cooperate?

The first paper by Marina Caparini provides an introduction to human trafficking as a transnational organized crime. She discusses the linkages and differences between trafficking in human beings, smuggling of migrants and forced labour. The connection between traffickers and other organized crimes is highlighted. Caparini concludes by providing an overview of current policy initiatives as well as remaining challenges.

Leslie Holmes takes an interregional perspective and discusses human trafficking between Asia and Europe. After showing the specific characteristics of human trafficking, the paper explains the reasons for the current existence of the phenomenon. He then analyses the various forms of trafficking in human beings taking place between the two regions and discusses existing cooperation efforts as well as an outlook for future opportunities.

Human trafficking in South Korea is addressed by Seo-Young Cho. She discusses trends in the country, which is a destination, transit and source country. In particular, sex and labour exploitation are addressed as the main forms of trafficking in human beings present in South Korea. An analysis of anti-trafficking efforts with a focus on prosecution and protection highlights recent reforms and remaining problems.

Huong Le Thu takes a closer look at human trafficking in Vietnam. She shows how the ongoing transformation in the country results in economic growth but also creates opportunities for exploitation. This leads not only to cross-border trafficking but also forms of internal trafficking between rural and urban areas. Recent legislative reforms and bilateral agreements indicate a certain awareness of the problem. However, victim identification, prosecution of victims and internal coordination among enforcement units remain problematic.

Taiwan is often described as one of the success stories in combating human trafficking after it was put on the Tier 2 Watch List in 2006. Yingyu Chen discusses the developments in the country before and after 2006, and identifies the patterns of human trafficking in Taiwan and the effects of the policy reforms.

Paul Buckley looks at cross-border cooperation in the case of Thailand and Myanmar. He describes the situation of migrant workers in Thailand and explains national anti-trafficking policies in both countries. The paper further analyses regional initiatives as well as bilateral labour and criminal justice responses.

In her contribution, Sallie Yea addresses an increasingly widespread phenomenon – human trafficking for exploitation of fishermen in Southeast Asia’s long haul fishing industry. She first explains the recruitment procedures and the transit routes being used before the victims board the boats. Then the act of exploitation at sea is described, followed by an analysis of what needs to be done to improve the situation.

Alistair Cook discusses the connection between cyberspace and human trafficking – another aspect which is of growing concern in Asia. The internet is used to recruit victims and can thus facilitate human trafficking, as shown by examples from Indonesia and China. At the same time, the internet can be used to track down traffickers and prosecute them through online petitions, data mapping and awareness-raising.

The approach of the European Union to combating human trafficking is analyzed by Joanna Pétin. She illustrates the development of initiatives and directives addressing the issue, with a focus on the 2011 Directive and its impacts on prosecution, protection, prevention and partnership. She also highlights the problems with the human trafficking and migration approach that are hindering the policy’s stronger success.

Ilaria Boiano discusses the situation of human trafficking in Italy. After explaining the legal framework existing in Italy, she analyses the implementation of these legal measures and the challenges. She concludes her paper with an overview of the international cooperation efforts Italy is involved in.

The final paper by Zbigniew Lasocik deals with the situation in Poland. He shows how Poland has developed from a source country into a transit and destination state while Polish victims are still common. Although legal frameworks exist, a long-standing strategy is missing and legal grey areas persist. At the end of his analysis, Lasocik focuses on the role civil society can play in the fight against human trafficking.


Patrick Rüppel


Singapore, September 25, 2014