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Human trafficking in Belgium 2008-2019

In Belgium, the Federal Police registers a steady number of human trafficking cases. Around three to four hundred cases are reported each year. In 2019, 414 sexual trafficking cases and 146 economic trafficking cases were registered in Belgium. In comparison, the neighboring country of the Netherlands registered 795 cases.

Human trafficking under Belgian law

Human trafficking refers to the exploitation of individuals for profit. Exploitation covers prostitution, infantile pornography, begging, organ harvesting, forced crime, and forced labor. Confusion is often made between human trafficking, illegal immigration, and smuggling. The latter describes the act of aiding the illegal entry of a person into a country. An international consensus on the definition of human trafficking was crucial due to this confusion. Thus, the European Union and the United Nations found common ground: Besides exploitation, human trafficking’s definition today rests on two other key elements: acts and means. Acts can be recruiting, transporting, transferring or housing. Whereas means refer to threats, violence, constraint, and deceit. In 2005, Belgium adapted its law to reflect this consensus. Belgium compromises protecting the victims and fighting criminal organizations. The country offers victim protection in return for their collaboration with the authorities. For this, reporting the offense is mandatory.

Victims of human trafficking in Belgium

Since the early ‘90s, Belgium delivers a residency permit to human trafficking victims. For this, the victim must withdraw from exploitation and attend support centers. Three centers specialize in welcoming and supporting victims. They provide psychological and medical care, administrative help, and legal advice. These centers are in the three big Belgian cities: Brussels, Antwerp, and Liège. Placement in a secret location shelter is also offered when needed.

Registered cases of human trafficking in Belgium from 2008 to 2019

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Release date

May 2020



Survey time period

2008 to 2018

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Statistics on "Crime in Belgium"

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