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Liability of trafficking

In order to ensure that persons may be held liable for trafficking in human beings, States are obliged to ensure that the crime is introduced into the criminal code (in accordance with the principle, nullen crimen, nulla poena, sine lege, "There is no crime, there is no punishment, without law”) by ratification of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2000 (the “UN Palermo Protocol”). As with any crime, all elements of trafficking must be proven, in order to hold a person liable. What is important to note is that according to Article 10 of the United Nations Transnational Organised Crime Convention, which is applicable mutatis mutandis, to the UN Palermo Protocol and in line with Article 22 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, both natural and legal persons (corporate persons) may be held liable for trafficking in human beings (so called, “corporate liability”). As provided in the Explanatory report to the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, in the case of corporate liability, commercial entities, associations, etc., are liable for the criminal actions which are performed on their behalf or by anyone who holds a leading position in them. This means that these persons may be held accountable if they fail to supervise or check on an employee or agent of the company, thus enabling them to commit the offence of trafficking. Furthermore, both aforementioned conventions, establish also the liability of commercial carriers for possession of the requisite travel documents by the passengers which they transport (auxiliary to liability for trafficking). Finally, it is important to mention, that there also exist provisions in the aforementioned conventions and many international documents, which explicitly recommend States to introduce non-punishment provisions in their legislation – which would ensure that victims of trafficking are not held liable for the offences they were forced to commit while being trafficked.


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