UQ Trafficking in Persons Working Group

Trafficking in persons involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of force, threats, deception, or the payment of money for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labour, servitude, or the removal of organs.  Virtually every country in the world, including Australia, faces the challenge of stopping those who exploit desperate people and protecting and assisting victims of trafficking, many of whom endure severe hardships.

Trafficking in persons sits along a spectrum that covers various forms of irregular migration.  Irregular migration may occur without the assistance of others or may involve facilitation and payment, the phenomenon commonly referred to as smuggling of migrants

In international law, the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children is the main international agreement to define and address the phenomenon of trafficking in persons.  Unlike earlier treaties, the Protocol reaches beyond sexual exploitation to cover all forms of trafficking in men, women, and children.  Supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, the Protocol focuses predominantly on trafficking in persons as a form of organised crime, requiring a coordinated international response including uniform anti-trafficking legislation and prosecution of offenders.  The Protocol also includes provisions for the prevention of trafficking and for victim protection.

Despite a seemingly endless production of books, articles, papers, and media reports, there still is a lack of critical mass of credible research, expertise, and scholarship on trafficking in persons in Australia.

In March 2008, the TC Beirne School of Law at The University of Queensland in conjunction with the School of Political Science and International Studies set up the Trafficking in Persons Working Group to provide comprehensive and continuing analysis of this phenomenon in Australia.  The Working Group identifies and analyses reported and suspected instances of trafficking in persons in Australia in all its forms, including trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced and servile marriage, labour trafficking, child trafficking, and trafficking for the purpose of organ removal.  The Working Group documents and examines the evolution and operation of international and domestic law in this field and critically evaluates the Australian Government’s response to trafficking in persons.

This website documents the objectives, activities and research findings of the UQ Trafficking in Persons Working Group.  This work complements the research conducted by the UQ Migrant Smuggling Working Group that was established in 2011.