Figures on human trafficking in the EU


Thousands of people are victims of human trafficking within the borders of the European Union (EU). According to the latest data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical portal, in 2020, at least 6,534 citizens were victims of this scourge. But trends have changed, and while the prevalence of some types of exploitation has declined, in others it has reached the highest rate since 2008, as was the case with forced labour.

Human trafficking manifests itself through many types of exploitation. For the European Union, these range from the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation to forced services (including begging), including slavery, servitude, exploitation to carry out criminal activities or the removal of organs, according to article 2.3 of Directive 2011/36/EU.

Since 2008, this statistical portal has asked Member States to send them data on trafficking in order to prepare reports providing an overview of the situation within the Community bloc. It should be remembered that trafficking does not require crossing a border. In this sense, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia and Lithuania mostly reported victims from their own country, while more than 75% of the victims registered in Ireland, Portugal , Spain, Finland, Belgium, Denmark and Slovenia came from non-EU countries. There are also cases, although less frequent, in which the victims come from another EU country, according to Eurostat.

The number of victims, suspects and traffickers of human trafficking is decreasing

In its studies, Eurostat distinguishes three profiles of people: that of victims, that of suspected traffickers and that of convicted traffickers. In all three cases, the numbers were reduced in 2020 compared to the previous year. Victims decreased from 7,777 in 2019 to 6,534 (16% less), suspected traffickers from 7,924 to 7,290 (8% less) and convicted traffickers from 1,724 to 1,295 (24.9% less). less).

In any case, Eurostat says that, as there have been years when some EU countries did not provide figures on trafficking, these trends “must be interpreted with caution”. He also adds that “the effects of COVID-19” must be taken into account when analyzing the data.

In the case of Spain, the number of victims practically halved between 2019 and 2020, falling from 523 to 269. In any case, in absolute terms, it continued to belong to the group of ten countries where the most victims were recorded in the EU, specifically in seventh place. More and less, it ranking It was made up of France, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Romania, Austria, Spain, Poland, Sweden and Greece.

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In the case of convicted traffickers, the total was also almost halved (from 51 to 28) in Spain, but in this case it was the fifth country with the most convictions for the crime of human trafficking. , only behind France, Germany, Romania and the Netherlands. And if we don’t look at the convicts, but at the suspects, the fall was not so sharp (from 326 to 264), and Spain ranked fourth after Italy, France and Germany.

Trafficking figures by type of exploitation in the EU

In its studies on trafficking in the EU, Eurostat distinguishes between three profiles of people: victims, suspected traffickers and convicted traffickers. In all three cases, the numbers were reduced in 2020 compared to the previous year. Victims decreased from 7,777 in 2019 to 6,534 (16% less), suspected traffickers from 7,924 to 7,290 (8% less) and convicted traffickers from 1,724 to 1,295 (24.9% less). less).

In Spain, the most common type of exploitation victims experienced in 2020 was sexual (with 160 cases), followed by forced labor (99) and removal of organs or for other purposes (10). In the latter case, Spain ranks eleventh in the country ranking, while in the case of sexual exploitation and forced labor it ranks seventh and sixth respectively.

In all these cases, the number of victims has decreased compared to 2019, although once again we must take into account the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the free movement of citizens in Spain.

Sources

Eurostat database on human trafficking

Directive 2011/36/EU

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