What is human trafficking?

  • It is the illegal trade in human beings for the purpose of making them slaves and appropriating their dignity, freedom and labour
  • It is a grave violation of human rights
  • It is a crime (article 177 bis of the Spanish Criminal Code)

According to the United Nations Protocol for the year 2000, HUMAN TRAFFICKING is the ‘recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat, the use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability or 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’.

Types of exploitation:

  • Forced labour or services, including begging
  • Sexual
  • Labour
  • Organ harvesting
  • Illegal adoption
  • Forced marriage
  • Forced criminality
  • Domestic servitude

Human trafficking is called tràfic d'éssers humans in Catalan and trata in Spanish.

It must be differentiated from human smuggling (contraban de migrants in Catalan, tráfico de personas in Spanish), which is the action of facilitating the illegal entry of people into a state or territory of which they are not nationals or residents to procure financial benefit. Human smuggling also often includes transporting the affected people.

Human trafficking if the second most lucrative illegal activity in the world.

70% of victims are women and children.

Municipal Unit against Human Trafficking (UTEH)

The Municipal Unit against Human Trafficking (UTEH) provides anybody who is a victim of this crime, be they minors or adults, with comprehensive care, regardless of the type of exploitation. It also offers advice to professionals and people from the victims' circle.

Requirements to access the service:

  • Referral from a service or a professional
  • Regardless of whether the exploitation is taking place or took place in Barcelona either now or in the past.
  • Regardless of whether the person is currently resident or has previously resided in Barcelona, or whether they are registered as living in the city or not.

Anybody who presents with signs of being exploited, whether or not they are formally identified as a victim of human trafficking, will be attended to:

  • Regardless of whether or not they are here legally
  • Regardless of whether or not they are still in the exploitation network (securing their release) while evaluating the risks this could entail.
  • Regardless of whether or not they are still working as a prostitute or a beggar, or other types of exploitation

The service provides:

  • Advice for professionals
  • Social assistance
  • Psychological assistance
  • Legal assistance and representation
  • Safe shelter in coordination with other specialist services in this field



National Police emergency telephone number (brigade against human trafficking):

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