23/01/2024 | Press release | Fight against human trafficking: Council and European Parliament strike deal to strengthen rules | Council of the EU

Today the Belgian presidency of the Council and representatives of the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement to add forced marriage, illegal adoption and surrogacy as types of exploitation covered by the EU’s anti-trafficking law. The update of the directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings will also require EU countries to make sure that people knowingly using services provided by victims of trafficking can face sanctions. Other amendments concern the strengthening of victims’ support and assistance as well as prevention measures.

Council and European Parliament negotiators agreed to explicitly mention in the directive that the exploitation of surrogacy, forced marriage and illegal adoption are types of exploitation which fall under the scope of the definition of trafficking. The trafficking for the exploitation of surrogacy, which is when a woman agrees to deliver a child on behalf of another person or couple to become the child’s parent(s) after birth, will target those who coerce or deceive women into acting as surrogate mothers.

Including these forms of trafficking in the EU anti-trafficking law will take into account the prevalence and the relevance of these forms of exploitation.

The Council and EU Parliament have also decided to include a new aggravating circumstance in the law to take into account the amplifying effect that information and communication technologies (ICT) can have as regards trafficking. This includes the fact that the perpetrator facilitated or committed the dissemination, by means of ICT, of images, videos or similar material of a sexual nature involving the victim.

Sanctions on legal persons, such as companies, held accountable for trafficking offences will also be beefed up. They will from now on cover the exclusion from access to public funding, including tender procedures, grants, concessions and licences, and the withdrawal of permits and authorisations to pursue activities which have resulted in committing the offence.

Source: Council of the EU

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