A binding EU provision to criminalise knowing use of exploitative services?

EU commission

Article 18(4) of the current EU Anti-Trafficking Directive recommends the criminalisation of the knowing use of services which are the objects of exploitation, as one of the ways to curb demand. The European Commission is now considering revising the EU THB Directive of 2011 and to make this a binding provision for EU Members States. It is expected that the evaluation of the THB Directive and the revision of the Directive will be announced on 13th of December 2022.

It has been suggested that the added value of such legislation is to ensure that those that cannot be criminalised under current human trafficking legislation, can still be punished under this legislation for facilitating or fostering human trafficking, by knowingly making use of the services of trafficked persons.  However, there is not much evidence yet available that existing legislation on criminalising knowingly use had impact in practice. Many suggest that the provision mainly has – and will have – a normative effect and can increase public awareness of human trafficking and behavioural change.

La Strada International is now conducting a series of interviews on the impact of criminalising the knowing use with relevant stakeholders. The interviews held by La Strada International aim to learn more about the different perspectives and reasons for enacting such legislation, as well as to identify the added value and (possible) impact of the proposed binding EU provision on knowing use.

In June 2021, La Strada International already organised a side event on the matter.  See

Do you want to share your opinion and do you want to be interviewed on the matter, please contact us at