Dancing on the Borders of Article 4: Human Trafficking and the European Court of Human Rights in the Rantsev Case
Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights Vol. 30/2, 163–194, 2012
35 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2012
This article points to four worrisome aspects of the Court’s reasoning in Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia. First, the Court takes on board the concept of human trafficking without offering any meaningful legal analysis as to the elements of the human trafficking definition. Second, the adoption of the human trafficking framework implicates the ECtHR in anti-immigration and anti-prostitution agenda. The heart of this article is the argument that the human trafficking framework should be discarded and the Court should focus and develop the prohibitions on slavery, servitude and forced labor. To advance this argument, the relation between, on the one hand, human trafficking and, on the other hand, slavery, servitude and forced labor is explained. The article suggests hints as to how the Court could have engaged and worked with the definition of slavery which requires exercise of ‘powers attaching to the right of ownership’, in relation to the particular facts in Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia. Lastly, it is submitted that the legal analysis as to the state positive obligation to take protective operation measures is far from persuasive.
Keywords: European Court of Human Rights, Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia, Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, human trafficking, slavery, servitude, forced labor
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