Friday, January 08, 2010

Landmark ECHR ruling on human trafficking

From the ECHR blog comes news of an important ruling on human trafficking.
"Yesterday, the European Court passed a landmark judgment on human trafficking in the case of Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia. The case concerned the death of Oxana Rantseva and was brought by her father. Oxana moved from Russia to Cyprus and started to work as a 'cabaret artiste', as one of thousands of women coming to Cyprus. It was widely known that these 'artistes' were in practice mostly working as prostitutes. Within a few weeks she left the place where she worked, but was traced by her employer who brought her to the police with the aim of haiving her detained and extradited, so that he could employ someone else. The police noted that she was not illegally staying in Cyprus, but had a work permit and made her go back with her employer. Later that night, she tried to escape from the apartment where her employer was keeping her and in doing so fell of a balcony and died. In spite of the mysterious circumstances of her death, the context of possible human trafficking was never looked into by the authorities.

The Court found, unanimously, that trafficking in human beings, although not epxlicitly mentioned in the ECHR, fell within the scope of Article 4 (prohibition of slavery, servitude and forced labour). This is a rarely used Convention provision, on which there is only one earlier Court judgment in the context of human trafficking: the case of Siliadin v. France ( 73316/01) of 2005, in which the Court looked into a situation of girl from Africa held in servitude as a housemaid in France...
The judgment not only represents a milestone in the combat against human trafficking, but more generally elucidates state obligations in the battle against transational crime. It is commendable that the Court through its verdict offers new yardsticks to assess state performance in this respect.

To read the report by Interights on the case click here. This NGO also submitted a third pary submission to the Court, which can be read here. Even the Wall Street Journal reports on the case; click here."

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