Published in March 2019
This module is a resource for lecturers
The distinction between trafficking in persons and other crimes
Trafficking in persons vs smuggling of migrants
Smuggling of migrants is defined in article 3(a) of the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime as "the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or permanent resident". Unlike trafficking in persons, the crime of smuggling does not require exploitation and cannot occur within a single State. The purpose of smuggling is to make a financial or material benefit, rather than exploitation. Nonetheless, the two crime types may overlap in practice. A full analysis of the differences and similarities between these two crimes is provided in Module 11.
Trafficking vs prostitution
While prostitution constitutes an offence in some jurisdictions, it is lawful in others. This is why the Protocol refers to the exploitation of the prostitution of others but does not define the term prostitution itself and does also not equate prostitution with trafficking in persons (See also Module 11 and 13).
Trafficking vs slavery
Slavery means exercising the power of ownership over a person. As such it requires capture, acquisition or disposal of a person, all acts involved in the acquisition of a slave with a view to selling or exchanging him/her, and all acts of disposal by sale or exchange of a slave acquired with a view to being sold or exchanged, and, in general, every act of trade or transport in slaves (see Convention against Slavery). Trafficking in persons is wider in scope. It may take the form of slavery but it does not require total ownership of a person. It is enough that the trafficker has control of or undue influence over the victim of trafficking once the other elements are present. Under the Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, slavery is listed as a form of exploitation. In national jurisdictions, trafficking and slavery may constitute different crimes or even (partially) overlap.