At the Intersection of Smuggling and Trafficking: the European Response to the Vanishing of Human Beings

January 29, 2014

In Europe and worldwide, people disappear on a daily basis. Some end up in situations of forced labour. Some are killed for organ trafficking. Others disappear because they choose to do so. Some are being looked for by relatives and friends, others vanish altogether.

The legal status of each and every person that disappears from the surface of our society depends on a large number of factors. The 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime clearly distinguishes, via two separate Protocols, between trafficking in persons on the one hand, smuggling of migrants on the other ‒ defining the presence of exploitation as decisive factor of distinction. People in the first category are given the status of victims, with all legal consequences thereof. People in the second category, by contrast, are not entitled to any victim protection. On the contrary, smuggled people are understood to be criminals themselves, having committed an offence against the ever more restrictive EU border control regime.

Both issues, as well as their interrelation, raise a large number of questions. What does the EU do to combat trafficking in persons, and to assist the victims? What does it undertake to fight organized criminal groups in smuggling? Are the rights of those smuggled respected, or do EU policies against smugglers further complicate the legal situation of those affected? Which reforms need to be envisaged on a European level? And what kind of help can relatives and friends expect when they are looking for someone? Together with a number of renowned experts, both from European institutions and international civil society, these and other questions will be discussed.

Date:        29 January 2014 from 09:30 to 13:00
Place:      European Parliament, Brussels, Room ASP A1G3


Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, European Commission
Andrea Hastynkova, EUROPOL
Frederic Kurz, GRETA committee, Council of Europe
Maria Velizarova, LEFÖ
Bärbel Uhl, KOK
Regine Schönenberg, independent researcher and author
Marieke van Doorninck, La Strada International
Eve Geddie, PICUM
Jutta Hermanns, International Committee of the Red Cross


Introductory statement
by Barbara Lochbihler, Chair of the Human Rights Subcommitte of the European Parliament

Expert debate on the situation of victims of human trafficking in the EU.
Moderation: Ulrike Lunacek, Member of the European Parliament

Open debate and question time.

Expert debate on the situation of smuggled migrants and refugees in the EU.
Moderation: Judith Sargentini, Member of the European Parliament

Open debate and question time.

Final discussion with all experts and closing remarks 
by Jean-Jacob Bicep, Member of the European Parliament


This conference is organised by the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament: Barbara Lochbihler, Ulrike Lunacek, Judith Sargentini and Jean-Jacob Bicep.

Interpretation into English, German and French provided.


For more information, please click here.

To register, please click here.

Photo by Ring Tail.

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