Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Human Trafficking Definition:

The transportation or commercial exchange of an individual by coercion or deception for the purpose of exploitation.

Related Terms: Trafficking, Sex Trafficking

The sale or transport, of people through the use of force, or abduction, fraud or deception, or exploiting people for purposes such as forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery or servitude.

The United Nations defines human trafficking (using the words trafficking in person) as follows:

"[T]rafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation, which includes, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs...."

Vancouver lawyer Christine Duhaime writes, in Anti-Money Laundering Law in Canada:

"Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, defined as any act that involves the transport, harbouring, or sale of persons through coercion, force, kidnapping, deception or fraud, for the purposes of placing them in a situation of forced prostitution, domestic servitude, debt bondage or other slavery-like practice. Human trafficking can be local, national or international – a person may be trafficked from a small town to a large city within the same country, or trafficked to another country.

"All human trafficking activities involve money laundering. The proceeds collected from the criminal activity are transformed by criminals into apparently legitimate money or other assets. Traffickers tend to use the proceeds of their criminal activities to invest in cash intensive businesses, such as nightclubs or strip bars, and later, in real estate. To avoid detection, they tend to wire funds through money services businesses and send money across the border using international courier services....

"[H]uman trafficking is the second largest illicit business in the world, after drug trafficking, generating as much as US$40 million annually in proceeds of crime that are laundered through the legitimate financial system. Until recently, money laundering activities have not been used frequently enough to flush out human trafficking by law enforcement agencies but that is slowly changing as reliable money laundering and human trafficking typologies are developed."


  • Anti-Money Laundering Law in Canada
  • United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, G.A. Res. 25, Annex II, UNGAOR, 55th Sess., Supp. No. 49, UN Doc. A/RES/55/25 (Nov. 15, 2000)
  • United Nations, General Assembly Resolution #64/293, United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, August 2010



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