Court: Larvik District Court (Larvik Tingrett)
Location: Larvik, Norway
Date of decision: 2013-09-25
The defendant, Z., was charged with human trafficking for having exploited his two children, a girl (Child C.) and a boy (Child I.), for the purpose of begging between 1 June and 29 July 2013 in Norway.
Based on the testimonies before the Court, the family members were beggars originally coming from Romania. None of the family members had a job and their earnings were only coming from begging and doing casual work. They travelled around Central and Northern Europe, and resided in various countries for shorter or longer periods.
The defendant and his two children came to Norway in June 2013 for the purpose of begging. Upon arrival in Oslo, the father gave the children sheets of paper with different texts, mainly referring to different types of handicaps and the “Regional Association certificate for physically disabled children, deaf and sick”. This was done to gain more sympathy and money from by-passers, and to evoke an impression that the money the children received was going to be invested in building a care centre. The mentioned association never existed and there was no other intention but to use the money by themselves (the facts about the papers are mainly relevant for the fraud charges).
Norwegian Criminal Code Section 224 (4) cf. (1) (b)
Norwegian Criminal Code Section 270 (1) nr.1 cf. (2) and Norwegian Criminal Code Section 317 (1)
Larvik District court found the defendant guilty of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation under the Norwegian Criminal Code Section 224 (4) cf. (1) (b). The provision applies to those who take advantage of a vulnerable position by exploiting another person in a situation of forced labor or other forced services, including begging, or induce another person to let himself/herself be used for such purposes. Furthermore, if the victim is under 18 years of age, such actions are considered “a serious crime”, i.e. it is not necessary that violence, threats or abuse of a vulnerable position have occurred. Taking advantage or inducing another person under 18 years of age is sufficient to prove the crime of human trafficking.
The Court found that the condition of “forced labour or other forced services” in the Criminal Code does not set strict requirements to be fulfilled, however, it needs to reach a certain level in order for the provision to be violated. The main legal question was where this line should be drawn.
The majority of the Court found that the defendant had pressured his children sufficiently for the provision to be violated. The majority emphasized that the children were raised to travel around in different countries and beg. They did not go to school. There was an expectation in the family that the children should beg for money. The children could not get away from begging because of their dependency on the father. They were both of young age, lacked language skills, and had no money for food and travel arrangements back home. Furthermore, the Court found that the defendant was undoubtedly willful in his actions as he brought the children to Norway solely for the purpose of begging.
The minority, however, found that the children were neither forced nor exploited to beg, but they did it voluntarily.
In addition to human trafficking, the defendant was charged with breaking Norwegian fraud provisions. He was found liable to pay a 58,350 NOK as a fine to the state.