L.E. v. Greece: Human Trafficking and States’ Positive Obligations

By Vladislava Stoyanova, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden. Author of Human Trafficking and Slavery Reconsidered. Conceptual Limits and States Positive Obligations in European Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016 forthcoming)

Against the backdrop of the rich judicial output of the ECtHR, the case law under Article 4 of the ECHR is scarce. This is more than surprising against the backdrop of ample empirical evidence showing that migrants, including sex workers, are subjected to severe forms of exploitation in Europe (see, for example, the report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency published in 2015 Severe Labour Exploitation: Workers Moving within or into the European Union. States’ Obligations and Victims’ Rights). To be more precise, the existing judgments in which the Court has dealt with abuses inflicted by non-state actors (i.e. employers) reaching the level of severity of Article 4 are five:[1] Siliadin v. France, Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia, C.N. and V. v. France, C.N. v. The United Kingdom and M. and Others v. Italy and Bulgaria (the complaint under Article 4 was found inadmissible in this case). On 21 January 2016, the ECtHR delivered L.E. v. Greece, which is the sixth judgment in this context. It is an important judgment not only because it is a positive step for remedying the above mentioned dearth of judicial engagement with exploitation of migrants in Europe, but also because it raises some intriguing questions about positive obligations under the ECHR. In this note, I will cover some of these.

Continue reading