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This special issue is devoted to one of the most serious of all transnational crimes. Unlike trafficking in drugs, cigarettes, natural resources, or other goods, human trafficking is different in that people are the victims and they can be trafficked repeatedly. Commodities are sold or used and then new sources must again be found, but human trafficking permits the re-victimization of the same people over and over again. This direct victimization of individuals, together with the problem of re-victimization, makes human trafficking a particularly serious form of criminal conduct worldwide.
There are four articles in this special issue which address the subject from different perspectives. The nature and scope of human trafficking varies by location, and also in the relationship between traffickers and victims, its relationship to other kinds of transnational crime, and the policy responses to it. The articles in this collection address each of these perspectives.
"The Mobility of Sex Workers in European Cities," by Dina Siegel, focuses on the issue of mobility as a central component of prostitution and human trafficking. Using ethnographic observations and interviews, the author provides an interesting effort to use observations of actual persons/prostitutes to compare with popular human trafficking stereotypes. In this way, she explains how and why perceptions do not always match with reality. The study also distinguishes between horizontal (geographical) and vertical (organizational) mobility in describing the context in which women, their families, and agents move from one place to another in the framework of sex-work activities and organization.
"The ‘Groundhog Day’ of the Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation Debate: New Directions in Criminological Understanding," by Rose Ann Broad and Jonathan Spencer, offers an insightful perspective on how the framing of the problem of human trafficking has inhibited better understanding, and more effective responses, to it. The authors’ explanation that the characterization of human trafficking as largely a problem of migrant issues and policy is fascinating, arguing "essentially the women are faced with a choice between innocent victim, who receives services for the protection of trafficked victims, or guilty whore, who is deported." The authors recognize that it is more difficult to consider the involvement of both migrant women and men in sexual exploitation as an unanticipated consequence of migration policy.
"Drugs and Human Trafficking: The Relationship of the Drugs and Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective," by Louise Shelley. describes the relationship between the drug trade and human trafficking, noting their diverse forms on different continents. The drug trafficking-human trafficking relationship has rarely been discussed in the literature. The author finds that drug trafficking is linked to sex trafficking, begging, child soldiers, and labor trafficking in agriculture and other physical labor. Shelley argues that some drug trafficking organizations have diversified into the business of human trafficking, thereby creating a larger and more violent marketplace for human trafficking, exploiting common transportation routes and facilitators. Corruption is found to facilitate both these forms of illicit trade, and another impetus for the expansion of drug traffickers into both human smuggling and trafficking is the generally less serious sanctions and lower risk of the confiscation of assets if caught.
"Trafficking in Human Beings: Ten Years of Independent Monitoring by the Dutch Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings," by Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen, reports on the first 10 years’ experience with the office of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings. The experience of the Netherlands in this effort to provide independent and sustained attention to the problem of human trafficking is unique with lessons to be learned both for nation states and also those working to reduce the incidence of this crime and minimize its impacts. The Dutch Rapporteur submits annual reports to the Minister of Justice, and the Dutch government responds to the reports and informs parliament of its conclusions. This article describes the evolution and expansion of the definition and scope of human trafficking in law in the Netherlands (conduct outside the legal sex industry), and the broadening of attention to international relations with source countries, and the protection of victims. Given that the Dutch Rapporteur offers a more systematic response to human trafficking than exists in most countries, its work is particularly valuable to disseminate to a wide journal audience.
This special issue of the European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research offers new information from different countries about the national and transnational aspects of human trafficking and the response to it. It is hoped that the work presented here will move forward discussion, research and action on behalf of greater international progress in addressing this most serious form of criminal conduct.