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“Meždunarodnoe pravosudie” (International Justice) Journal

№3 (27) 2018

The Council of Europe guarding the rights of victims of human trafficking: legal standards and risk factors

Ekaterina Alisievich - Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Institute of Law and National Security, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia (e-mail:

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2018-3-46-65

Abstract. On 16 May 2005, the Council of Europe adopted the Convention on Action against Human Trafficking, bringing together all member states of the Council of Europe, with the exception of the Russian Federation. The Convention is based on three human rights principles: (1) human trafficking constitutes an encroachment on the dignity and integrity of human beings; (2) the rights and interests of victims of human trafficking take precedence; (3) States are required to take additional protection measures for child victims of human trafficking. The aim of this study is to analyze, on the basis of the analysis of the reports of the Council of Europe’s Expert Group on Combating Human Trafficking, GRETA and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia, Chowduri and Others v. Greece, Seliaden v. France, L.E. against Greece, and others to determine the content and scope of the positive obligations of the member states of the Council of Europe in the field of ensuring the rights and interests of victims of human trafficking. Particular attention is paid to factors that hinder the effective realization by victims of their rights: the criminalization of victims; protection on the condition of willingness to cooperate with the investigation; a mistake in establishing the age of the victim; and improper application of the principle of non-punishment. The methodological basis of the research is a set of general scientific (analysis and synthesis, induction and deduction, analogy) and private scientific (formal-legal, comparative-legal) methods of scientific cognition. This article analyzes the elements forming the concept of “trafficking in human beings” (Article 4(a) of the Convention): action, means, and purpose. Based on the analysis of the GRETA reports, violations of the rights of victims of human trafficking are identified in the process of identification, investigation, and court proceedings. The features of protection of child victims of human trafficking are considered. The author ends with the imperfection of the conceptual apparatus used in the Convention in defining the concept of “human trafficking” and concludes that, in general, states have the necessary legal tools to protect the rights and interests of victims of human trafficking, but they do not use them effectively enough.

Keywords: human trafficking; exploitation; forced labor; rights and interests of the victims of trafficking; European Court of Human Rights; GRETA.

Citation: Alisievich E. (2018) Sovet Evropy na strazhe prav zhertv torgovli lyud'mi: pravovye standarty i faktory riska [The Council of Europe guarding the rights of victims of human trafficking: legal standards and risk factors]. Mezhdu­narodnoe pravosudie, vol.8, no.3, pp.46–65. (In Russian).


Alisievich E.S. (2013) K voprosu ob opredelenii ponyatiya “uyazvimye gruppy” v mezhdunarodnom prave prav cheloveka [On the question of defining the concept of “vulnerable groups” in international human rights law]. Evraziyskiy yuridicheskiy zhurnal, no.1, pp.29–33. (In Russian).

Vinokurov S.I. (2017). Aktual'nye problemy sovershenstvovaniya protivo­deystviya torgovle lyud'mi [Actual problems of improving the counteraction to human trafficking]. Vestnik Akademii General'noy prokuratury Rossiyskoy Federatsii, no.5, pp.79–85. (In Russian).

Lebedinets I.N. (2016). Genezis mezhdunarodno-pravovogo regulirovaniya bor'by s rabstvom, rabotorgovley i drugimi formami torgovli lyud'mi [The genesis of international legal regulation of the struggle against slavery, the slave trade, and other forms of human trafficking]. Aktual'nye problemy rossiyskogo prava, no.3, pp.186–191. (In Russian).

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