Criminal Liability of Corporations for Trafficking in Human Beings for Labour Exploitation

Legal instruments at the European level clearly define that States have an obligation to establish corporate liability for trafficking in human beings (THB). The monitoring of the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings shows that, in general, the respective legislation for corporate criminal liability already largely exists in the States’ Parties. However, application of the legislation seems to lag behind, since relevant cases were identified in only a few States. By analysing these legal mechanisms with a focus on Austria, studying case law in Belgium and Cyprus, and conducting interviews with stakeholders, the authors identify obstacles for the application of corporate criminal liability in the context of THB. Based on case law, the paper analyses the potential of corporate criminal liability for exploited persons to have access to compensation and describes challenges in this field. Cases on corporate criminal liability for THB seem to focus on sanctioning the companies and ensuring compensation might be seen as a rather secondary priority.



Image Credit: Cathy Whitfield via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)