Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims was adopted in April 2011 and was to be transposed by member States by April 2013. It sets binding rules on the definition of criminal offences and the level of sanctions as relates to trafficking in human beings. The Directive also sets out to strengthen prevention as well the protection of victims.
Six United Nations agencies have compiled a commentary on the EU Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings which provides a lot of useful background information on the articles of the Directive. The Commentary discusses key articles of the Directive focusing on human rights and gender perspective, including the non-application of penalties to victims (Article 8), the protection of and assistance to victims, examining the concept of due diligence and the principles of non-refoulement and non-revictimisation, and the role of national referral mechanisms (Articles 11), the protection of victims in criminal proceedings (Article 12), the concepts of remedy and redress (Article 17), prevention (Article 18), and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism (Article 19).
The European Commission plans to adopt a new EU strategy towards the eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings for the years 2021-2025. Earlier, on the 19th of June 2012, the European Commission adopted the “EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016)”. The strategy included a set of concrete and practical measures to support and complement the implementation of EU legislation on human trafficking (Directive 2011/36/EU).
The Strategy focused on the implementation of the Directive and recommended that effective processes are also established to ensure that action in other EU policy areas reinforces the protection and assistance of trafficked persons as required by the Directive. In 2017 the European Commission adopted a Communication, which sets out key actions that need to be stepped up by the Commission and the Member States, including cooperation with EU agencies, civil society, non-EU countries and all other relevant organisations and bodies. The Anti-Trafficking Directive acknowledges the role of civil society and encourages Member States to work closely with civil society organisations including recognised and active non-governmental organisations working with trafficked persons, in particular in policymaking initiatives, information and awareness-raising campaigns, research and education programmes and in training, as well as in monitoring and evaluating the impact of anti-trafficking measures.
In 2013, the EU Civil Society Platform was launched, which currently brings together over 100 NGO participants from across the EU and beyond, including many La Strada International members. The Platform regularly meets twice per year, including in joint session with the informal network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms on trafficking in human beings, and meetings are organised by the Office of the EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator.