The lack of data regarding the true extent of human trafficking seriously compromises the capacity of potential measures to combat this crime, especially considering the transnational dimension of this crime. The lack of data also hinders the realistic evaluation of the impact of any future plan for intervention.
According to the estimation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Europe, only 1 out of 20 potential victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is detected. And the identification of trafficking victims who are exploited through forced labour has been even less successful than in the case of sexual exploitation.
Other forms of exploitation remain hidden in the majority of cases. In labor exploitation cases, active participation of all pertinent authorities is necessary. These authorities should continually pledge their commitment to combating this crime.
Globally, the majority of human trafficking crimes occur on a national or regional level. This is not the case in Europe, the destination for many victims. The majority of the human trafficking victims detected in Europe come from Romania, Bulgaria, China and Nigeria.
Many trafficking cases may be obvious. A scenario in which persons are recruited, transported to another country, never allowed to leave a factory, and work around the clock clearly fall within the definition of trafficking in persons and such conduct must be criminalized as such.
In generating a profile of victims, based upon the number of source institutions reporting cases of trafficking in person (both for sexual exploitation and forced labour) for which age and gender are known, minors comprise the largest percentage of persons reported as victims. Adult women comprise the second largest reported group. A relatively small number of sources report the victim to be an adult male.
Similarly, cases involving women recruited or harboured and forced to provide sexual services unmistakably meet the definition of trafficking in persons. Some cases, however, may be more complicated. When in doubt as to whether a particular circumstance meets the definition of trafficking in persons, attention should be paid to both the definition contained in the Trafficking