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EU Expands Anti-Trafficking Law to Include Surrogacy, Forced Marriage, and Illegal Adoption

The exploitation of surrogacy, forced marriage, and illegal adoption has now been formally classified as forms of exploitation under the EU’s anti-trafficking law. In a statement, the Council of the European Union announced that the changes mean that knowingly using services provided by these newly-defined trafficking victims will “become a criminal offence that is punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties.”

EU Expands Anti-Trafficking Law to Include Surrogacy, Forced Marriage, and Illegal Adoption

“The new law also strengthens prevention measures as well as the support for and assistance to victims,” the statement added. The newly classified types of exploitation will be punishable by a maximum penalty of “at least five years of imprisonment,” or up to ten years in cases of aggravated offences.

Regarding the ‘exploitation of surrogacy,’ the EU has previously clarified that it will be defined under the anti-trafficking measure as: “The trafficking for the exploitation of surrogacy, which is when a woman agrees to deliver a child on behalf of another person or couple to become the child’s parent(s) after birth.” The Council of the EU specified that this will target “those who coerce or deceive women into acting as surrogate mothers.”

The agreement will also introduce a new aggravating circumstance, acknowledging “the amplifying effects of the dissemination of exploitative material, such as the dissemination of visual content of sexual nature involving the victim, through information and communication technologies (ICT).”

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Additionally, legal persons, such as companies, “will also face more severe sanctions,” which include “the exclusion from access to public funding and the withdrawal of permits and authorisations to pursue activities which have resulted in committing the offence,” according to the council.

The European Parliament showed strong support for expanding the anti-trafficking directive to cover the exploitation of surrogacy, forced marriage, and illegal adoption. The measure passed with 563 votes in favor, 7 against, and 17 abstentions during a vote on April 22, 2024.

The new text will come into force twenty days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. Member states will have up to two years to transpose the amended directive into national law.



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