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EU funded project, TRACE, examines human trafficking as a criminal enterprise

Trafficking in human beings is a serious human rights violation and combating this crime remains a priority in Europe today.

TRACE (Trafficking As a Criminal Enterprise), is a EU funded project that started in May 2014 and will run for two years, until April 2016. TRACE consists of a multi-disciplinary team from across Europe who will develop state-of-the-art knowledge on the business of human trafficking in an effort to support stakeholders in their fight against this crime. Trafficking in human beings is a serious human rights violation and combating this crime remains a priority in Europe today. Although there is increasing attention for the fight against human trafficking, it remains difficult to accurately determine the scale and traits of the issue. It is however, evident that thousands of people are being trafficked within, to and from Europe every year. Figures from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2012 reveal that within the European Union 880.000 persons are in a position of forced labour. Paul De Hert, a human rights academic at Vrije University Brussel, observes that ‘in it’s configurations, trafficking means human misery and slavery. How to make sense out of that remains a very complicated issue.’ To understand the issue and ensure effective European measures to address the problem, more information on the scope of human trafficking in Europe is needed, including; which persons are vulnerable for exploitation and abuse, how are these persons recruited, who is behind this crime and how do they operate? To-date little is known about the profiles of traffickers, what influences their business and how trafficked persons become traffickers. The TRACE team will look at the modus operandi and profiles of perpetrators, seek to understand more about the victim and look among other factors at the role of technology used to recruit persons, as well as how technology can be used to help combat trafficking. Also current policies, legislation and measures taken by the European Commission, national European governments and other stakeholders will be examined to assess the methods and provide an understanding of how human trafficking is framed. The project aims to: 1. Develop an understanding of trafficking as a business; 2. Acquire an understanding of the specific characteristics of the traffickers: who are they and why do they become traffickers? Coupled with developing an understanding of why some victims become traffickers and understanding the nature of the interaction amongst, traffickers, victims and third parties who facilitate human trafficking; 3. Gain knowledge of the factors influencing the trends in trafficking of human beings, e.g. technology, economic and political trends; 4. Develop an understanding of the policies in place and provide a framework of what further policy actions are available for stakeholders. The consortium consists of a range of different types of stakeholders with vast research experience, including: Trilateral Research & Consulting (UK) a Small and medium enterprise specialising in technology and security research, academics from Vrije University Brussel (Belgium) and Tilburg University (The Netherlands), a body of national governmental representatives against human trafficking: The Council of Baltic Sea States Secretariat (Sweden), Cyprus Police and civil society organisations La Strada International (Netherlands) and The French Committee Against Modern Slavery (France). The consortium will share its findings in a comprehensive manner whilst also actively participating in various international activities including conferences, workshops and attending meetings relevant to its aims and objectives. The team will also seek to further share their findings by publishing results in journals, the press and via briefing papers that will be targeted towards different stakeholders of whom may benefit from the projects findings. Preliminary findings will be available in fall 2014. For further information and project updates, including workshop announcements, please visit our website: and follow us on Twitter - @TRACE_EU.


Seventh Framework Programme, Security


Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, United Kingdom