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Country Profiles

Action Plan on Trafficking in Persons – Smuggling of Migrants

Germany has not yet developed a national action plan or other strategic document to  combat trafficking in human beings in a comprehensive manner.  

However, in addition to the adoption of the above-mentioned legislative acts, the Federal  Government has undertaken several initiatives over the last few years to prevent trafficking in human  beings, prosecute traffickers, and protect victims and ensure their access to rights. These include: 

  • The National Cooperation Strategy on Protecting and Supporting Child Victims of  Trafficking and Exploitation 

In 2017 the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth  published the draft of a National Cooperation Strategy on Protecting and Supporting Child  Victims of Trafficking and Exploitation, which was jointly developed by the Federal Ministry for Family  Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and ECPAT Germany with input from experts  and practitioners, especially KOK, BKA, and the International Social Service. 

  • The National Cooperation Strategy is designed as a nationwide set of recommendations for  the development of a new cooperation mechanism or for use in expanding existing Länder-level  cooperation mechanisms.

  • It provides a framework for a cooperation mechanism and enables alignment with the prevailing  requirements and structures in a given Länder.  

  • The cooperation strategy contains action-oriented measures and recommendations for  organizational and communicative structures that enable ongoing, person-independent  cooperation and collaboration at the local level.  

  • It provides insight into definition-based distinctions and legal and policy frameworks; looks at  all forms of human trafficking for the purpose of exploitation; names potential cooperation  partners; and provides information on their responsibilities and work processes.  

  • The strategy also lists contact data and service points in the various Länder and illustrates  how identification of child victims can be promoted, including through the use of a list of child  trafficking indicators.

Related Action Plans

According to the authorities, the fight against human trafficking is addressed within the context  of various action plans at the federal and Länder level.   

  • The Federal Government has adopted a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights  2016-2020, linked to implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The plan envisages some activities that could contribute to discouraging demand and reducing  TIP for the purpose of labour exploitation. However, there appears to be limited contact and  coordination between the government bodies implementing this action plan and those fighting  TIP. Further, a Federal Government Action Plan for combatting violence against women and  domestic violence is currently being prepared under the leadership of the Federal Ministry  of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. In view of the particular gender-specific  nature of how women and girls are affected by human trafficking, measures to fight TIP are also  expected to be included in the Action Plan

Institutional Framework

The institution/s in charge of identifying VOTs or traffickers  in the field

Germany is a federal republic composed of 16 Länder (states).  The exercise of sovereign power is divided between the Federal  Government and the Länder (state) governments in accordance  with the provisions of German Basic Law. With regard to  human trafficking, the Länder have far-reaching responsibilities.  For example, it is noted that as a general rule, the criminal  prosecution authorities in the individual Länder are responsible  for the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking.  They are also responsible, in line with the federal structure, for  providing general advice and assistance for victims. 

Identification is done by various entities under the overall coordination of Federal Working Group on  Trafficking in Human Beings.

  • The Länder (state) governments, which are responsible for protection efforts, identified  671 trafficking victims in 2017, an increase from 536 in 2016. The large increase in victim  identification came mainly from the construction sector (116 victims in 2017, compared to 12 in  2016), with most victims from North Macedonia (52 victims) and Latvia (39 victims).

  • The Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) identified more potential victims  in the asylum protection system than in recent years and made referrals to counseling centres.  Each of the 50 BAMF offices across Germany have at least one representative to assist in  identifying and supporting potential victims of trafficking, and 15 of 16 states have cooperation  agreements in place between police and NGOs for various purposes. The BAMF continue  to utilize standard operating procedures and trafficking indicator lists to identify potential  victims in the asylum protection system and make referrals to counselling centres, though  NGOs suggest improvements in victim identification. BAMF introduced a new training module  in 2019 that focused specifically on human trafficking and reached approximately 80 to 100  asylum decisionmakers. Asylum case officers receive training on identifying victims of human  trafficking. If an applicant seems to have been the victim of human trafficking, the case officer will  inform the applicant about the three-month reflection and stabilization period, according to the  Residence Act, and eventual humanitarian residence permit or subsidiary protection. 

  • At front line: The Federal Police are responsible for refusing entry of persons into Germany  and for removal proceedings. If an alien identifies him or herself to the Federal Police as a victim  of human trafficking, the police will refer the person to the respective State Criminal Police or  the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA). BKA offers a course on  human trafficking for police officers who work in specialized investigations and on closing cases  related to human trafficking. The officers must have prior knowledge in this area. The training  on human trafficking for sexual exploitation is offered twice a year, and the training on human  trafficking for labour exploitation once a year. 

  • The Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) is responsible for all labourrelated issues at federal level. This covers industrial relations, social security, employment  and vocational training, occupational safety and health, labour standards and trafficking  of human beings for labour exploitation. BMAS co-finances pilot projects and mandates  research on labour exploitation and handles cases under the Crime Victims Compensation Act.

Agencies Responsible for Border Management

The Federal Police (Bundespolizei) are responsible  for border security, coast guard services, and security at  international airports and on German railways, among other  areas. The Federal Police are responsible for refusing entry of  persons into Germany and for removal proceedings. If an alien  identifies him or herself to the Federal Police as a victim of  human trafficking, the Federal Police will refer the person to the  respective State Criminal Police or the Federal Criminal Police  Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA).

National Coordinating Bodies

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) continues to act  as the federal coordinating agency on issues related to human trafficking.  

  • The Federal Working Group on Trafficking in Human  Beings meets at least twice a year under the leadership of  BMFSFJ, bringing together representatives of relevant federal  ministries and agencies, Länder representatives, NGOs, and  the German Institute for Human Rights.

Recently, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees  (BAMF) joined the Working Group as new members. The working group serves as a forum  for exchanging information on activities and specific problems in combatting human trafficking  and for the development of guidelines and joint actions. 

  • The responsibility for action against TIP for the purpose of labour exploitation is with the  Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS).

  • A Federal Working Group on Combatting Human Trafficking for the Purpose of Labour  Exploitation was established in 2015 with the aim of developing by the end of 2016 a  strategy to end this form of exploitation. The Working Group comprises representatives  of Federal and Länder ministries, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Länder  criminal police offices, public prosecutors, the Financial Monitoring Unit to Combat Illicit  Employment (FKS), social partners, and NGOs. Three subgroups have been set up within this  Working Group.

The current federal government coalition agreement is intended to strengthen the  structures of combatting human trafficking and supporting victims. A joint meeting of the groups  (Forum Menschenhandel) was held in March 2019. 

Specialized Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants  (SOM) Unit

  • The Division IZ of BKA aims to link international  cooperation and criminological research and science as  closely as possible.

Division IZ also coordinates cooperation between the  German police authorities and European/international police  organisations as well as within the framework of other forms of  international police cooperation.  

BKA is Germany’s National Central Bureau of the International  Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO) - better known as INTERPOL, which is headquartered in Lyon,  France. INTERPOL brings 186 countries together with a view to provide mutual support to their  police authorities. BKA ensures that information exchange with INTERPOL and the police forces of  the German states is rapid and secure. 

The liaison officers play an important role in the collection and exchange of information. BKA’s 66  liaison officers work at 53 locations in 50 countries, promoting bilateral cooperation between the  criminal justice authorities at international level. They represent the interests of the German police,  especially those of the BKA, in their respective host countries and also provide support to other  German criminal justice authorities. In addition, the liaison officers can assist the criminal justice  authorities of the host country when investigations with links to Germany are concerned. In addition  to their case-related work, the liaison officers also collect information of strategic importance,  especially with regard to the suppression of drugs and organised crime as well as international  terrorism.


General Information 

Germany continues to be primarily a country of destination  for trafficked persons, as well as to some extent a country of  origin and of transit. According to the annual status reports on  trafficking in human beings (TIP) of the Federal Criminal Police  Office (BKA), the number of identified victims of TIP was 583 in  2014, 470 in 2015, 536 in 2016, 671 in 2017, and 503 in 2018.  The majority of the victims identified in the period 2014-2018  were subjected to sexual exploitation (2,380), but the  proportion of this type of exploitation has decreased from  over 90% in 2014 to 73% in 2017, while at the same time the  incidence of identified victims of trafficking for the purpose  of labour exploitation has increased (27% in 2017) .  Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation concerned  mostly women and girls (around 97% of the identified victims),  while the identified victims of trafficking for the purpose of  labour exploitation were mostly male (81% in 2015, 71%  in 2016, 86% in 2017, 86% in 2018) and occurred mainly  in the sectors of construction, hospitality, factory work,  agriculture, cleaning services, and domestic work. Following  the introduction of new forms of exploitation to the offence of  TIP in the German Criminal Code in October 2016, there were  for the first time two identified victims of TIP for the purpose of  forced begging in 2017. 

Main Trends and Figures 

In 2018, the main countries of origin of the victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual  exploitation were Germany, Romania , Bulgaria, Hungary, and Nigeria with total of 430 victims. As  regards victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation, the main countries of origin  were Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia, and North Macedonia, with a total of 63 victims. The number  of German victims of TIP identified in the period 2014-2017 was 406. The number of identified  child victims in the period 2014-2017 was 513. They were all subjected to sexual exploitation, with  the exception of two children who became victims of labour exploitation. It was reported that an  increasing number of victims, including children, are recruited via the Internet/social media. Young girls  and women in particular are groomed through online chat rooms and fall prey to so-called “loverboys”  who manipulate and force them into prostitution. According to the authorities, 99 child victims of  trafficking of German nationality were recruited via the Internet in the period 2014-2017. Smuggling of Migrants (SOM): The number of persons seeking asylum in Germany has increased  substantially during the reporting period, with a total of 476,510 asylum seekers in 2015  and 745,155 in 2016. Counselling centres for victims of TIP reported that some asylum seekers,  in particular from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, had been identified as victims of human trafficking and  that the persons being referred to them originated mostly from West African countries, in particular  Nigeria. The majority of these victims were exploited on their way to Germany, including in other  European Union (EU) countries, such as Italy, where they first arrived.


Existing Mechanisms

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrant (SOM) Hotlines

TIP/SOM (violence against women) - +49 8000 116 016*

Others (Children protection/ assistance) - 116111 or  0800-1110333 (Mon-Sat 14:00-20:00) 

*This hotline is available free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 18 languages. 

More information can be founded on the Hilfetelefon Gewalt Gegen Frauden website 

More information on the hotline for children can be found on the NummergegenKummer website.

National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and/or Standard Operating  Procedures (SOP)

  • Since police investigation and protection as well as support and counseling of victims of trafficking  fall within the responsibility of the Länder within the federal system of Germany, on the federal  level only a model exists. The Länder have adapted this model to their regional specificities and  have signed formal agreements with the NGOs. The model for a referral mechanism focusing  on victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, “Trafficking in Women,” was first  published by the Federal Working Group in 1998 and was updated in 2007. The BKA and KOK,  a nationwide activist coordination group combatting trafficking in women and violence against  women in the process of migration. 

  • With a view to creating a specific referral process for cases of trafficking in children, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and ECPAT Germany, in cooperation with other public and civil society actors, have developed a document  entitled “Federal Cooperation Guidance on Protecting and Supporting Child Victims of  Trafficking and Exploitation.” Published on October 18, 2018, it provides recommendations for  cooperation among youth welfare services, the police, specialized counselling centres, and  other relevant actors in the identification and protection of child victims of trafficking. (The  competences for the implementation of this guidance lie with the Länder -German only)

Law Enforcement Agencies Responsible for Investigating Cases of  Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrant (SOM)

Criminal investigations, including those concerning TIP  offences, are almost exclusively carried out by Länder police  units: either by local criminal police units or by the criminal  police office of the Land (LKA). Police units dedicated  specifically to the fight against TIP exist only in some  Länder; notably the LKA Berlin has one specialist unit focused  on TIP for sexual exploitation and one unit on TIP for labour  exploitation. The relevant LKA can take over investigative responsibility in cases of serious crime, in  particular drug trafficking and organized crime.

The Prosecution Service: The prosecution offices function under the authority of the Ministers  of Justice of the Länder. The detailed organization of prosecution offices is prescribed by the  legislation of each Länder. In most public prosecution services, TIP cases are dealt with by units  specialized in organized crime. There are few public prosecutors specializing in TIP cases. In Berlin,  the public prosecution service has departments responsible for TIP for labour exploitation and for  TIP for sexual exploitation. One of the specialized public prosecutors also acts as Human Trafficking  Officer and passes on expertise to colleagues.


The Fair Mobility project assists in the enforcement of fair wages and working conditions for migrant  workers from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries on the German labour market. The  project is implemented by the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and funded by BMAS. 

Contact: Faire Mobilität  

DGB, Kapweg 4, 13405 Berlin 

Emai : 

Tel: +49 3 0 21 240 540


Advisory Centre Berlin 

Tel: +49 030 210 164 37 | +49 030 212 329 96 Languages: German | Polish |  Bulgarian | Macedonian | Serbo Croatian | English 

Advisory Centre Dortmund Tel: +49 0231 545 079 82 | +49 0231 189 998 59 | +49 0231 189  986 52 | +49 0231 189 986 97 Languages: German | Bulgarian | Romanian | Hungarian | English 

Advisory Centre Oldenburg Tel: +49 0441 924 9019 | +49 0441 924 9012 Languages: German |  Bulgarian | Romanian | English 

Advisory Centre Frankfurt/Main Tel: +49 069 272 975 67 | +49 069 272 975 66 | +49 069 153 452  31 Languages: German | Bulgarian | Romanian | Polish | English 

Advisory Centre Kiel Tel: (+49) 0431 519 516 67 | (+49) 0431 519 516 68 Languages: German |  Polish | Romanian | English 

Advisory Centre Munich Tel: +49 089 513 990 18 | +49 089 512 427 72 Languages: German |  Bulgarian | English muenchen 

Advisory Centre Stuttgart Tel: +49 0711 120 936 35 | +49 0711 120 936 36 Languages: German |  Czech | Slowak | Polish | English

Technical Working Groups

  • In 2016, at the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and  Youth, and on the basis of an expert report prepared by the German Institute for Human  Rights (DIMR), a joint consultation process of the relevant federal ministries was launched  with the aim of considering the creation of an independent national reporting agency  (i.e. a National Rapporteur in the sense of Article 29, paragraph 4, of the Convention) and a  mechanism to improve coordination of all federal measures to combat human trafficking. Civil  society and the Länder are included in this consultation process via the two above-mentioned  Working Groups. The expert report of DIMR proposed different scenarios for creating  such mechanisms. According to the authorities, an agreement in principle was reached to  create a national reporting mechanism and a governmental coordination mechanism, but the  legislative period ended in September 2017, and the discussions have to be renewed following  the formation of a new government. According to the authorities, activities on the further  development of the institutional structures at the federal level outlined in paragraph 27 also aim  at the establishment of a national rapporteur.  

Annual 2019 report (available in German only)

Agency in charge of Trafficking in Persons (TIP)/Smuggling of Migrants  (SOM) data collection and processing

The German authorities to develop and maintain a comprehensive and coherent data collection  system on trafficking in human beings, compiling reliable statistical information from all main actors  and allowing disaggregation.  

The BKA produces an annual report on trafficking in human  beings and exploitation, based on available information from  police investigations, which includes statistical data on suspects  and victims disaggregated by sex, age, form of exploitation, and  country of origin. 

The 2016 and 2017 reports also include data on the  commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition, the  police forces of some Länder produce their own reports, for  example, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. 

  • Justice and criminal prosecution statistics are published by the Federal Statistical  Office. BKA and Federal Statistical Office statistics are not comparable due to timing differences  in the inclusion of cases and differences in methodology. The current federal government  coalition agreement envisages commissioning a feasibility study on their alignment.  

  • The sub-working group on prosecution and improvement of data collection of the  Federal Working Group on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose  of Labour Exploitation proposed in 2016 to commission a concept study on the use of other  sources to improve data collection on TIP and to look at data protection issues. The subgroup  also recommended that obstacles to the use of data from certain bodies (for example the  Financial Monitoring Unit to Combat Illicit Employment (FKS), by other entities, for example  police investigators) be removed; Finally, it recommended that a national reporting mechanism  on TIP be created.

  • A Federal Coordination Group Against Human Trafficking (KOK) project for centralized  collation and analysis of data from specialized counselling  centres is currently in the testing phase. Only incomplete  data is available about the number of victims who  have received assistance from such centres. In their  comments on the draft report, the German authorities  indicated that any sharing of data by the specialized  counselling centres would need to take place on a purely  voluntary basis. Data collection and reporting on trafficking in human beings  has several limitations. 

Data is only collected on victims who  are identified as part of police investigations, not on those identified and assisted by civil society  organizations. In addition, data on the enforcement of trafficking victims’ rights—such as on the  number of victims offered reflection periods, residence permits, compensation, and repatriation—is  also not collected in a systematic manner

Protection and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking Agencies

Competent authority and mechanism used to officially identify and  recognize a person as a VOT

There is no one ministry that is responsible for identifying VOTs. There are no ministries directly  responsible for this issue. The BMI is responsible for prosecution (which it shares with the  Bundesländer), the BMFSFJ finances the assistance given to victims of sexual exploitation. The BMAS  is responsible for laws and rights at work.


Assistance services to trafficked persons are provided by State-based services, including health care  providers and counsellors. State governments also fund several organisations that provide shelter,  assistance, and facilitate protection for victims of trafficking. However, full medical and psychological  assistance is only granted to persons who reside legally in Germany. Persons with an illegal status  receive benefits according to the German Law on Benefits for Asylum Seekers. These cover basic  needs but are below subsistence levels and are generally not sufficient for this target group

KOK provides a lists of support resources on their website. 

KOK is a German NGO network and coordination office against trafficking in human beings.  Currently, KOK consists of 38 member organisations across Germany that provide services, such as  counselling centres and shelters, for victims of trafficking. This is a unique network as it represents a  broad variety of different groups, including faith-based organisations and sex workers’ rights groups.

Cross-Border Cooperation

International Cooperation Agreements - Cross Border and  Extradition Treaties 

At the regional and international levels, in addition to agreements with the UN and the EU, Germany  has signed the following agreement: 

  • ACT on international cooperation in criminal matters  

At the bilateral level, Germany has signed these agreements: 

Law 149/99 of August 31, 1999: Law 149/99 deals with international judicial cooperation in  criminal matters. It governs the main forms of cooperation, particularly extradition and mutual  judicial assistance, and states that the principle of reciprocity shall be the basis for all international  cooperation. Germany is party to the Council of Europe conventions on extradition and mutual  judicial assistance and has signed several bilateral or regional agreements on international  cooperation in criminal matters.  

  • Germany has signed bilateral agreements with all of its neighbors on cross-border  police cooperation. These agreements govern cross-border police measures such as  surveillance, controlled deliveries, and hot pursuit; joint police operations, in particular joint  patrols; information-sharing; cross-border personnel support; and work at the joint centres for  police and customs cooperation. 

  • This includes cooperation with Europol, Frontex, and INTERPOL. 

  • More than 200 officers from the Federal Police, the state police forces, the Federal Criminal  Police Office (BKA), and the Federal Customs Administration are currently serving in  international missions organized by the EU, the UN, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as in the bilateral police project in Afghanistan and with Frontex at  the EU’s external borders. 

  • They are helping to mitigate the causes of illegal migration where they arise: in the countries  of origin and transit. The duties of German police officers include advising high-ranking  officials in security ministries and police administrations in the sub-Saharan region as well as  training trainers, criminal investigators, and border guards at the police academies in Bamako,  Mali, and Kabul, Afghanistan. 

  • In this way, police missions provide a lasting and effective contribution to the fight against  human smuggling and illegal migration. The goals of German police participation in  missions are thus closely linked to ensuring the internal security of Germany and Europe. 

At the EU level, BKA is involved in various projects in the EMPACT cooperation framework  (European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats). As part of the EMPACT project, BKA  takes part in annual Europe-wide controls against human trafficking and exploitation. In addition,  close international exchange on individual investigations takes place via Europol and INTERPOL. BKA  is also represented in the “Human Trafficking Expert Group” founded by INTERPOL in 2016.

Transnational Referral Mechanism

  • A Transnational Referral Mechanism (TRM) does not currently exist. To learn more about TRMs, see  IOM’s Transnational Referral Mechanism Model (TACT) project and tool.*

*IOM, TACT Transnational Referral Mechanism, financed by le fonds Asile, Migration et integration (FAMI) 

Additional International Instruments

  • Under the aegis of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony, a study was published  in 2018 entitled “Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Germany: Results of a file  analysis of cases registered by the police from 2009 to 2013.” In addition, the GermanAustrian research project PRIMSA (2014-2017) developed a multi-use tool to prevent and  combat human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.  

  • In 2015, KOK published a new edition of its comprehensive overview on TIP in  Germany. It provides a detailed description of the situation from a legal point of view and as  seen from the practice of counselling centres. It identifies specific problem areas and offers  recommendations. Another study examined the situation of female, male, and child victims of  trafficking and found that trafficked persons rarely have their own, secured living space. It made  recommendations for improving the situation. 

  • A 2016 study by KOK focused on TIP for the purpose of labour exploitation of women with  the aim of finding out whether such women are perceived differently by the public, and, if so,  why. The study is based on interviews with experts. It established four main factors contributing  to the perception of women as victims of labour exploitation: media representation, gender  stereotyped expectations, accessibility to the labour sectors, and access to representation  of interests. 

  • Specialized portal/website: Targeting specialists, facilitators, and groups that potentially  come into contact with victims, Together against human trafficking (Gemeinsam gegen  Menschenhandel e.V) specially developed an online portal that provides information, news, and  events on human trafficking for labour exploitation

Relevant National Legislation and Policies

Entry requirements 

  • All 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states  and Chad, Libya, and Mauritania: Nationals of the 15 ECOWAS member states and other  countries (Chad, Libya and Mauritania): need a valid and adequate visa corresponding to the  purpose of the visit as well as a valid travel document with a validity of at least three months  than the required stay 

  • Generally speaking, all other foreign nationals require a visa for stays in Germany. For nationals of  those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement, a visa is  not required for visits of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.  

  • Visa exempted: all EU Nationals and Swiss nationals.

National legislation 

To respect its international and regional commitments,  in addition to the Council of Europe Convention on  Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, Germany  has ratified the United Nations Convention on  Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to  Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (both ratified in 2006). Germany is also party to the UN  Convention on the Rights of the Child including its  Optional Protocols on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography  and on a Communications Procedure (ratified in 1992, 2009 and 2013 respectively), the  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional  Protocol (ratified in 1985 and 2002 respectively), as well as the following conventions elaborated  under the International Labour Organization (ILO): Convention Concerning Forced or  Compulsory labour (No. 29), Convention Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour (No.  105), Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the  Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182), and the Domestic Workers Convention (No. 189).  Further, Germany is party to a number of Council of Europe conventions in the criminal  field which are relevant to action against TIP. 

  • Germany is bound by the EU instruments on action against trafficking in human beings, in  particular Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 5,  2011 on preventing and combatting trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, Council  Directive 2004/81/EC of April 29, 2004 on the residence permit issued to third-country  nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an  action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities, Council  Directive 2004/80/EC of April 29, 2004 relating to compensation to crime victims, and  Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA of March 15, 2001 on the standing of victims in  criminal proceedings. 


  • Act to Improve Action Against Human Trafficking. The Act improves action against  human trafficking and amends the Federal Central Criminal Register Act and Book VIII of the  Social Code, which entered into force on October 15, 2016. Germany transposed Directive  2011/36EU into national law.

The provisions criminalizing trafficking in human beings were introduced into the German  Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB) in 2005 and include three sections: 232 (TIP for  sexual exploitation), 233 (TIP for labour exploitation) and 233a (assisting in human trafficking).  Furthermore, the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) provides for issuing a residence permit for  victims of trafficking in section 25, subsection 4a, and for a recovery and reflection period in section  59, subsection 7. 

Other internal legal acts relating to action against TIP include:*

  • Act on Regulating the Business of Prostitution and Protecting Persons Working in  Prostitution, which improves working conditions in legal prostitution and protects prostitutes  against exploitation, forced prostitution, and human trafficking. The new Act applies throughout  Germany to all prostitutes, their clients, and the operators of prostitution establishments.  The law provides comprehensive regulations for prostitution in Germany for the first time  and entered into force on July 1, 2017. The aim of the law is to create a legislative basis for  guaranteeing contractual working conditions, protecting the health of prostitutes, and combatting  crime in prostitution, such as human trafficking, violence against and the exploitation of  prostitutes, and procuration. 

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozeßordnung, StPO), which contains  provisions on compensation claims and procedural rights of victims of crimes.  

  • The Asylum Seeker Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz, AsylbLG) on financial  and medical assistance for asylum seekers, which also applies to non-EU nationals during  the recovery and reflection period.  

  • Volume II of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB II) on basic social protection for  job seekers and Volume XII of the Social Code (SGB XII) on social assistance benefits,  which stipulate the entitlements to assistance for German victims, victims who are EU-nationals,  and non-EU nationals who have been granted a specific residence permit for victims of TIP.  

  • Act to Reform Asset Recovery in Criminal Law. To strengthen and streamline the  effective confiscation of assets, Germany passed new asset confiscation legislation in 2017 that  comprehensively reformed existing provisions. It entered into force on July 1, 2017.  

  • The Crime Victims Compensation Act (Opferentschädigungsgesetz, OEG), which  determines the conditions for state compensation for persons who have been the victim of a  violent crime

* Some of these laws were amended as from March 1, 2015; these amendments are taken into account where appropriate. Full text of German  laws can be found:  English/German

Legal assistance and victim’s compensation


  • Article 15 of the EU Convention establishes the obligation for parties to provide in their internal  law for the right of victims of trafficking to legal assistance and free legal aid. Parties must also  provide for the right of victims of trafficking to compensation from the perpetrators as well as  adopt legislative or other measures to guarantee compensation for victims from the State. A  human rights-based approach to action against TIP entails the effective prosecution of traffickers,  putting the emphasis on the right to effective remedy for the victim. Further, Article 15(1)  of the Convention establishes that victims of trafficking must have access to information  on relevant judicial and administrative proceedings in a language which they can understand.

  • Victims are given a minimum three months’ reflection period to allow them to recover and consider whether they would like to cooperate with the police in criminal proceedings.  During the reflection period, victims are provided with accommodation and legal, medical, and  psychosocial assistance.

  • If the person decides to cooperate and the criminal proceeding has been registered, a  temporary residence permit can be granted by the prosecutors’ office. Temporary  residence permits are in general issued for six months, with the option of successive renewals.  Temporary residence permits can be extended if the public prosecutor’s office cannot exclude  the possibility of a threat to the trafficked person. 

  • Special protective measures for children: The German government has attached special  measures to combat child trafficking through the framework of the two national action plans: A  Germany Fit for Children, 2005 – 2010 and For the Protection of Children and Young People  from Sexual Violence and Exploitation. Children have special rights as witnesses in criminal  proceedings, and the well-being of the child is the lead principle in cases involving children.

In Germany, there are over 50 counselling centres specialized in supporting VOT. Most of them are  members of the German NGO-network - Federal Coordination Group Against Human Trafficking  (Bundesweiter Koordinierungskreisgegen Menschenhandel e.V- KoK). They provide legal counselling,  accompany VOTs to the police, and refer them to specialized lawyers. They also support VOT  regarding access to legal aid funding. It is important to note that VOTs do not always benefit from  legal aid funds; for example, if the indictment is based on other offences than TBH due to lack of  evidence or when matters of residence and social law are concerned.


With the Crime Victims Compensation Act, anyone who has suffered damage to their health  as a result of a violent crime can receive support under the Crime Victims Compensation Act (e.g., medical treatment, assistance with vocational rehabilitation, disability pension). The support  is granted on application. Certain benefits have been increased during the last years. Due to  a recent reform of the Social Compensation Act, there is now also the possibility of granting  compensation to victims of psychological violence.

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