Combating trafficking in human beings
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery and a serious crime in gross violation of fundamental human rights, the essence of which is the abuse of a human being even with their consent, using methods and means set out in the Penal Code. It is an atrocity that violates every human’s inalienable right to dignity, which is guaranteed by numerous international agreements, including EU directives, as well as the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. However, this right is infringed not only in Poland. Every year, millions of people around the world fall victim to traffickers: women and men, adults and children.
Trafficking in human beings is an evolving phenomenon, the intensification of which was observed in Poland in the early 1990s. At present, Poland is not only the country of origin of victims, but also a transit country through which victims are transferred and a destination country for victims of trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation and forced labour.
The variety of forms of exploitation, cross-border nature, and diversity of violence used by perpetrators, difficult, often contradictory emotions of victims, as well as inconsistent social perception of the illegal practice depending on the region of the world – all this makes human trafficking a challenge for the international community, authorities and law enforcement. What is more, trafficking in human beings is a crime strictly connected with migration movements; thus it is an evolving phenomenon affecting the whole world and results first of all from the existence of social, economic or cultural problems and differences. By attempting to assess the scale and future trends of this phenomenon, its occurrence can be predicted in regions of political tensions, economic and military crises (victims’ countries of origin), and in the relatively calm and economically stable regions (destination countries).
Effective prevention of and fight against this crime requires the participation and cooperation of many government administration entities and non-governmental organisations. The Ministry of the Interior and Administration is responsible not only for subordinate units involved in prosecuting and combating trafficking in human beings, but also for coordinating and monitoring public administration activities in the field of anti-trafficking. A visible manifestation of this are the activities of a Special Section for Counteracting Trafficking in Human Beings established by the Minister of the Interior and Administration, which brings together representatives of all entities interested in combating trafficking in human beings. The Section’s tasks involve proposing and giving opinions on implemented actions aiming at efficiently combating and preventing trafficking in human beings, as well as the evaluation of the implementation of the National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings. The currently applicable document is the National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings for 2020–2021 adopted by the Council of Ministers.
The main objective of the National Action Plan is to ensure conditions necessary to effectively combat trafficking in human beings in Poland and offer support and protection to its victims.
Given this context, the specific objectives of the Plan are as follows:
- raising social awareness on trafficking in human beings
- raising the standard of support offered to victims of trafficking in human beings (including minors)
- improving the effectiveness of actions taken by institutions responsible for prosecuting the crime of trafficking in human beings with enhanced legal instruments, structures and implementation of best practices
- improving the qualifications of representatives of institutions and organisations involved in preventing human trafficking and supporting the victims
- enhancing the knowledge on trafficking in human beings and effectiveness of actions taken, especially in the context of forced labour
- consolidating international cooperation
National Consulting and Intervention Centre
As regards the implementation of the National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings, a National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Victims of Trafficking was established as a public task. Operations of the National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Victims of Trafficking are financed from the funds of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration.
The main tasks of the Centre are, above all, to identify victims of human trafficking, to intervene, to operate shelters for victims, to provide complex support to victims of trafficking (housing, medical and psychological care, legal consultations), to provide preventive advice and consultations for institutions and organisations. The Centre also operates a 24/7 hotline for victims and witnesses of trafficking in human beings.
Contact information for the Centre
Tel.: 22 628 01 20
The website provides various information on preventing trafficking in human beings, protection of and support for victims and institutional structure, etc. Moreover, the website contains an extensive knowledge base, covering not only legal acts regulating the issue of human trafficking, but also statistics, publications, titbits and descriptions of ongoing projects. The portal is updated on an ongoing basis with information on, among other things, upcoming and past events, issued reports and court rulings in cases related to trafficking in human beings.