Irpin, Ukraine, March 2022. Evacuees cross a destroyed bridge as they flee Ukraine following the invasion by Russia. While there has not been a spike in identified cases, the international community is concerned that there may be significant under-reporting. Photo Credit: Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP. Getty Images.
Global Slavery Index / Regional Findings

modern slavery in Europe and Central Asia

Regional Highlights



Europe and Central Asia is home to 12 per cent of the world’s population. Although the region is highly diverse in terms of geography, ethnicity, culture, religion, and wealth, modern slavery occurs in every country. Europe and Central Asia has the second highest prevalence of modern slavery of the five global regions. Various factors contribute to the prevalence of forced labour and forced marriage, including poverty, discrimination, migration, and a lack of economic opportunities.

Conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change further compound these vulnerabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and created new ones, with increased economic insecurity across the region and unequal access to vaccines and healthcare. To varying extents, countries across the region are impacted by climate change, with effects on agriculture and other primary industries driving poverty and food insecurity. Climate-related displacement continues to drive the risk of exploitation, particularly in forced labour, across the region. Although not reflected in our estimates, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of modern slavery, with mass displacement and forced migration both in-country and across the region.

The United Kingdom (UK) took the most action to combat modern slavery, followed by the Netherlands and Portugal, while Turkmenistan and Russia took the least. Europe has taken the most action of any region to tackle forced labour that ends up in global supply chains. Across all countries, governments should address significant gaps, including expanding the provision of safe and regular migration pathways for the most vulnerable, and tackling underlying discrimination of migrants and other marginalised groups.

What is the extent and nature of modern slavery in the region?

An estimated 6.4 million people were living in modern slavery in Europe and Central Asia on any given day in 2021. The region had the second highest prevalence in the world, with 6.9 per thousand people living in modern slavery. Europe and Central Asia had the second highest prevalence of forced labour at an estimated 4.4 per thousand people and the third highest prevalence of forced marriage (2.5 per thousand).1

Türkiye, Tajikistan, and Russia had the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the region. Russia, Türkiye, and Ukraine had the highest number of people living in modern slavery, accounting for nearly three in every five people in modern slavery in the region. The countries with the lowest prevalence are Switzerland, Norway, and Germany.

There are 4.1 million people trapped in forced labour in Europe and Central Asia. Forced labour takes many forms across the region for both adults and children, including domestic servitude, agricultural labour, and construction work and forced commercial sexual exploitation. There is a high population of migrant workers, both from within and outside the region, who are more vulnerable to being trapped in situations of debt bondage and exploitation.2 Displacement fuelled by conflict, climate change, and political and economic instability also contributes to forced labour prevalence in the region, as well as rising discrimination against certain groups, such as the Roma community.3

Ten per cent of all forced marriages in the world, involving an estimated 2.3 million people, are in Europe and Central Asia. Forced marriages occuring across the region represent a rigidity of gender beliefs that uphold traditional roles for girls and restrict their prospects. Patriarchal attitudes towards girls, including the preservation of “family honour,” are often associated with forced and child marriage, as well as poverty rates. Growing crises may also be driving forced marriages in the region. For example, data from the UK highlights that the increased risks of forced marriage created by COVID-19 and pandemic-related restrictions were experienced significantly by children, while their access to identification and support services were limited.4 In some countries in Central Asia, the practice of bride kidnapping, or Ala-Kachuu, occurs — where men abduct a girl or woman and force them to get married. Despite existing domestic laws and international obligations, the practice is widespread in Kyrgyzstan, with an estimated 12,000 cases taking place a year.5

Although these estimates are the most reliable to date, they are conservative given the gaps and limitations of data collection in the region. These estimates do not capture all forms of modern slavery, such as, the recruitment of child soldiers, trafficking for the purposes of organ removal, and all child marriages. Notably, these figures do not capture any impact of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.6

Table 1: Estimated prevalence and number of people in modern slavery, by country
Regional rank  Country Est. prevalence of modern slavery (per 1,000 population)  Est. number of people in modern slavery Population 
1 Türkiye 15.6 1,320,000 84,339,000
2 Tajikistan 14.0 133,000 9,538,000
3 Russia 13.0 1,899,000 145,934,000
4 Ukraine 12.8 559,000 43,734,000
5 North Macedonia 12.6 26,000 2,083,000
6 Turkmenistan 11.9 72,000 6,031,000
7 Albania 11.8 34,000 2,878,000
8 Belarus 11.3 107,000 9,449,000
9 Kazakhstan 11.1 208,000 18,777,000
10 Azerbaijan 10.6 107,000 10,139,000
11 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10.1 33,000 3,281,000
12 Moldova 9.5 38,000 4,034,000
13 Armenia 8.9 26,000 2,963,000
14 Kyrgyzstan 8.7 57,000 6,524,000
15 Bulgaria 8.5 59,000 6,948,000
16 Cyprus 8.0 10,000 1,207,000
17 Kosovo 8.0 14,000 1,806,000
18 Georgia 7.8 31,000 3,989,000
19 Slovakia 7.7 42,000 5,460,000
20 Romania 7.5 145,000 19,238,000
21 Uzbekistan 7.4 249,000 33,469,000
22 Serbia 7.0 61,000 8,737,000
23 Hungary 6.6 63,000 9,660,000
24 Greece 6.4 66,000 10,423,000
25 Lithuania 6.1 17,000 2,722,000
26 Poland 5.5 209,000 37,847,000
27 Croatia 5.2 22,000 4,105,000
28 Slovenia 4.4 9,000 2,079,000
29 Czechia 4.2 45,000 10,709,000
30 Estonia 4.1 5,000 1,327,000
31 Portugal 3.8 39,000 10,197,000
32 Israel 3.8 33,000 8,656,000
33 Latvia 3.4 6,000 1,886,000
34 Italy 3.3 197,000 60,462,000
35 Spain 2.3 108,000 46,755,000
36 France 2.1 135,000 65,274,000
37 Austria 1.9 17,000 9,006,000
38 United Kingdom 1.8 122,000 67,886,000
39 Finland 1.4 8,000 5,541,000
40 Ireland 1.1 5,000 4,938,000
41 Belgium 1.0 11,000 11,590,000
42 Denmark 0.6 4,000 5,792,000
43 Sweden 0.6 6,000 10,099,000
44 Netherlands 0.6 10,000 17,135,000
45 Germany 0.6 47,000 83,784,000
46 Norway 0.5 3,000 5,421,000
47 Switzerland 0.5 4,000 8,655,000

What drives vulnerability to modern slavery in the region?

Figure 1: Level of vulnerability to modern slavery, by dimension

Europe and Central Asia is the least vulnerable region in the world to modern slavery. While the region performed relatively well across all dimensions, disenfranchised groups remain particularly vulnerable to modern slavery. Inequality and conflict disproportionately impacted some countries, while vulnerability was further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, and climate-related displacement.

Conflict exacerbates vulnerability to modern slavery7 and although it was found to be the lowest driver of vulnerability in the region, it is important to note that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fell outside our data collection period, therefore its impact is not reflected in these findings. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports more than 8 million refugees and 5 million internally displaced people in what has become the largest movement of refugees since World War II.8 Ukrainian citizens fleeing the conflict are at increased risk of trafficking for various purposes, including sexual and labour exploitation.9 Media reports and crisis-response work have highlighted instances of exploitation of women and girls crossing the Russian border and of those in refugee camps.10 This vulnerability predates and is exacerbated by the war.

"Hundred of thousands of Ukrainian women have been victims of human trafficking. This was the case before the war and the war has only made it worse." Robert Biedron, EU lawmaker and chair of the Women’s Rights Committee.11

Discrimination against disenfranchised groups on the basis of migration status, race, ethnicity, and/or sexual orientation represents the greatest driver of vulnerability in the Europe and Central Asia region. The region is a source, transit, and destination for significant migrant and refugee populations. In 2020, more than 71.1 million migrants12 and 6.7 million refugees13 lived in the region. These people often encounter a lack of legal protection and insufficient information about their rights, which increases vulnerability to exploitation and abuse from recruiters, employers, and authorities.14 Discrimination fuelled by bigotry and xenophobia has also grown alongside mass migration, with black, Muslim, Roma, and Jewish communities in the region often experiencing social exclusion, verbal harassment, and physical attacks.15 For example, recent reports in Germany,16 Austria,17 France,18 the UK,19 and elsewhere in Europe20 highlight steep spikes in antisemitism and other hate crimes against Jewish people. In some instances, discrimination against certain groups has been grounded in policy and justified under national security measures, such as increased surveillance of Muslim communities in France, Germany, and Austria.21

Governance issues such as corruption drive vulnerability to modern slavery in the region and particularly in Central Asia. Corruption is increasingly prevalent in fragile democratic states throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia,22 with the subregion performing second lowest in the most recent Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).23 Populist governments in Eastern Europe have cracked down severely on the freedoms of expression and assembly needed to call out corruption.24 Additionally, for several years, international bodies and NGOs have condemned state-imposed forced labour in Belarus,25 Poland,26 Russia,27 and Turkmenistan.28 Despite Western Europe and the European Union performing better on governance issues and scoring consistently well on the CPI, progress has stagnated. The neglect or curtailment of accountability and transparency measures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have remained unrestored across the subregion, and public trust has fallen in the wake of scandals associated with procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in response to the pandemic.29 These have included allegations of corruption, overpricing, substandard quality of PPE, and unequal distribution.30

Despite impressive economic growth that has helped halve the number of people living in poverty in the region over the 20 years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,31 economic inequality still leaves many at a stark disadvantage,32 increasing their vulnerability to modern slavery. The impacts of income inequality in some communities include higher rates of health and social problems, such as poor health outcomes, increased poverty and homelessness, and lower levels of economic growth.33 Inequality will likely increase as the region faces a cost-of-living crisis fuelled by COVID-19, climate change, and most recently the war in Ukraine.34 As food and energy prices surge, already vulnerable populations across Europe and Central Asia will be further impacted. When individuals and families struggle to access basic necessities, they become more vulnerable to exploitation and forced labour. Additionally, the increased demand for food and energy can create opportunities for traffickers and exploiters to take advantage of the situation by profiting from the higher prices. This can lead to the exploitation of vulnerable populations, including forced labour in the agriculture, fishing, and energy sectors.

While some countries such as Norway, Switzerland, and Ireland have made significant progress on gender and income inequality, women in neighbouring countries still face widespread discrimination.35 However, even among countries with strong performances on gender rights measures, domestic and intimate partner violence remains a significant problem, as in the region more broadly.36 Evidence also suggests that this issue has been exacerbated by recent crises across the region, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.37 In addition to being paid on average 30 per cent less than their male peers, 38 women living in Europe and Central Asia are more likely to work in the informal sector, be irregular migrants, and face greater risks of trafficking and abuse.39

Limited access to basic needs also drives vulnerability to modern slavery. Across the region, the COVID-19 pandemic has had major health, social, and economic impacts on people and communities, as around the world,40 which in turn have compounded challenges for already vulnerable populations. For Tajikistan, one of the least economically developed countries in the region, the impact on access to basic needs was felt across the population. Four out of 10 Tajik households reported they were forced to reduce their consumption of food, while one in five families have said they were unable to obtain medical care.41 An analysis of impacts of the pandemic across the EU revealed educational gaps across low-income families and significant rises in households in arrears.42

Vulnerability to modern slavery in Europe and Central Asia is also exacerbated by the adverse impacts of climate change and climate-related disasters, which in turn are not evenly shared across the region. For example, severe drought has affected many parts of Europe and is expected to expand and worsen,43 which ultimately increases the risk of exploitation and modern slavery through decreased livelihood opportunities and increased migrant flows to and from the region.44

Table 2: Level of vulnerability to modern slavery, by country
Country  Total (%)
Tajikistan 67
Russia 60
Azerbaijan 57
Uzbekistan 56
Kyrgyzstan 55
Türkiye 51
Armenia 48
Ukraine 48
Turkmenistan 47
Kazakhstan 42
Belarus 41
Kosovo 40
Albania 40
North Macedonia 38
Georgia 38
Bosnia and Herzegovina 36
Moldova 36
Israel 35
Serbia 34
Croatia 30
Bulgaria 26
Romania 26
Italy 22
Cyprus 21
Lithuania 21
Greece 21
Poland 19
Hungary 19
Latvia 17
Slovakia 16
Estonia 15
United Kingdom 14
Switzerland 14
France 13
Czechia 13
Belgium 11
Germany 11
Spain 10
Ireland 9
Slovenia 9
Austria 8
Sweden 7
Portugal 6
Netherlands 6
Denmark 6
Finland 5
Norway 1

What are governments in the region doing to address modern slavery?

Walk Free assessed government responses to modern slavery across 52 countries in Europe and Central Asia. Overall, the Europe and Central Asia region continues to have the strongest response to modern slavery, scoring an average 54 per cent rating among countries. Responses to modern slavery vary significantly within the region and there remains a relatively higher level of political will to address modern slavery in Europe, in part driven by regional and multilateral coordination bodies which hold governments to account and monitor their responses.

GDP per capita PPP (current international $) varied greatly across the region,57 meaning certain economies have far more resources available to dedicate to responding to modern slavery than others. Overall, the countries with the strongest government response to modern slavery are those with a higher level of wealth, such as the top-ranking countries in the region and globally — the UK and the Netherlands. However, notable outliers are present. For example, Liechtenstein and Iceland, despite having some of the highest GDP per capita in the region and as such having relatively more resources to combat modern slavery, were among the nine governments taking the least action in the region. Both countries scored poorly on indicators relating to national, regional, and cross-border coordination and tackling forced labour in government and business supply chains. Conversely, while Albania and Georgia are among the region’s countries with lower levels of GDP per capita, they have shown relatively stronger government responses to modern slavery, with both countries scoring highly on addressing risk factors.

Strong government responses in the region are typically characterised by robust criminal justice mechanisms and effective identification and support to survivors of modern slavery. The countries with the strongest government response scored high on indicators related to criminal justice mechanisms, highlighting their function to effectively prevent modern slavery. Conversely, it is concerning that more than half of the countries in the region did not have laws in place that recognise that survivors should not be treated as criminals for conduct that occurred while under control of criminals. Treating survivors as criminals not only fails to acknowledge the exploitation they have faced, but it also creates additional barriers to accessing support and justice. This approach also undermines the EU Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which states that the “rights and dignity” of trafficking survivors must be respected and that they should not be penalised for their involvement in criminal activities that are a direct result of their trafficking situation.

Throughout Europe and Central Asia, Turkmenistan and Russia have the weakest responses to modern slavery. This is characterised by limited action to address underlying risk and drivers of modern slavery. In general, this reflects a combination of limited political will and a lack of resources, which means these governments do not prioritise the response to modern slavery. Our assessment of government responses also reflects evidence of state-imposed forced labour in both countries, as well as in Belarus and Poland. In Turkmenistan, reports highlight forced labour being used as a method of mobilising labour for the purpose of economic development; and as a means of labour discipline, tens of thousands of adults are forced to pick cotton, and farmers forced to fulfil state-established quotas, under the threat of penalty.64 In Poland, abuse of prison labour for private interests has been reported.65 In Russia, an initiative has been approved by the prison service and several government bodies for prisoners to exchange confinement for labour on major construction projects.66 More than a third of the country’s total prison population are eligible, while it is unclear how voluntary this labour is and if it will be paid.67 Further, there have been reports of North Koreans in forced labour within the construction and agriculture industries in Russia, with migrant workers sending the majority of their earnings back to North Korea to help prop up the regime.68 Abuse of prison labour occurs in Belarus69 while so-called medical labour centres70 see citizens struggling with drug addiction forced to work as part of their recovery.

Encouragingly, for the first time in 11 consecutive years of monitoring forced child and adult labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields, the latest reports found that state-imposed forced labour during the country’s cotton harvest no longer occurs.71 This is due to central government policy, international pressure, and national awareness raising of the illegality of forced labour.72 In other countries across the region, modern slavery responses have been undermined by state authorities. While most countries have criminalised corruption, reports of official complicity in modern slavery cases failed to be investigated 14 countries. This includes reported instances in Bulgaria, where police officers have not been investigated for allegedly taking payments to turn a blind eye towards women exploited in commercial sex.73

Albania, Portugal, and Ireland have all taken further action to combat modern slavery since the previous assessment of government responses in 2018.74 Recent developments have occurred in Albania, with the government operating one specialised shelter and allocating US$175,390 to NGO-run shelters in 2020 to support staff salaries.75 Additionally, in Portugal, guidelines were published to outline that frontline responders, including police and NGOs, could identify and refer presumed victims to services.76

“Police need more training on the signs for victims. Many don’t know what the signs are — they take the word of the trafficker over the victim.” Male survivor of modern slavery, United Kingdom, 2018

Significant gaps remain in legal frameworks to combat modern slavery across Europe and Central Asia. Thirty-four countries have failed to criminalise forced labour and 29 countries have failed to criminalise forced marriage. Both Cyprus and Malta were the latest countries to criminalise forced marriage since the last Global Slavery Index in 2018. Although 14 countries in the region have ratified the ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 since 2018, overall ratification remains disappointing, with 23 countries in the region failing to do so. Other critical gaps across the region include uptake of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, 1990.

Where countries have enacted legislation or put in place relevant policies, implementation is not always consistent. Gaps in services appeared across the region, with 15 countries failing to provide services to all survivors. For example, in Serbia,77 Germany,78 and Hungary,79 among others, services for men and children were inconsistent. Further, despite National Action Plans existing in 41 countries, only 11 governments fully funded activities within these plans and just 10 countries monitored their implementation through an independent entity. Most recently, in October 2020, the Irish government appointed the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as the independent national rapporteur responsible for monitoring human trafficking policy and data collection.80

“There needs to be some sort of global standard of aftercare to avoid re-trafficking.” Female survivor of modern slavery, United Kingdom, 2018

Given the significant migrant flows across the region, cross-border collaboration on issues specifically related to modern slavery is integral. Encouragingly, most governments in the region did cooperate bilaterally in some way, either through repatriation efforts or labour migration agreements, and often this is facilitated through EU agreements. These agreements can help to prevent exploitation and modern slavery, as they can provide a legal framework for movement and workers’ rights. However, 35 countries did not have systems in place to allow asylum seekers to seek protection or there was evidence of systematic discrimination, detention, and/or deportation of these groups. This includes countries in the region with some of the largest asylum seeker populations, including Germany, the UK, Greece, Armenia, and Spain. For example, in April 2022, the UK announced plans to deport to Rwanda asylum seekers from that country who enter the UK using “irregular routes,” such as on small boats or in the backs of trucks.81 Although the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) stepped in to issue injunctions that halted deportation flights,82 a judicial review published in December 2022 found the policy to be lawful.83 The scheme has been justified by the UK government as a way to deter people making dangerous journeys; however, the numbers crossing have not fallen since the policy was announced. More than 45,000 people used irregular routes like this to come to the UK in 2022, the highest figure since records began.84

European migration policies in response to the crises in Libya have also been criticised for their hostility and focus on border enforcement and control.85 From 2020 to 2021, there was a 90 per cent increase in those attempting the crossing from Libya to EU countries.86 The safe and legal options for those seeking to flee humanitarian crises across Africa via Libya are limited and have been further impeded by the European Union’s support of the Libyan coastguard and its intercepting of those fleeing and returning them to Libya, where they are vulnerable to being bought and sold in slave markets.87 Such policies appear to be addressing the sentiments of European audiences at the expense of Libyan stakeholders and local vulnerable groups. Similar border management measures have been implemented by the EU and its member states with other African countries in recent years in an attempt to limit irregular migration from the region, such as an €80 million (approximately US$87 million) deal signed with Egypt in October 2022. Egypt is likely to see intensified flows of migrants in the medium to long term as a result of regional instability, climate change, demographic shifts, and a lack of economic opportunities.88 By limiting safe legal pathways for migrants, modern slavery, and exploitation risks will rise considerably.

Other examples of rights curtailments across the Europe and Central Asia region include labour laws in 12 countries preventing certain groups from exercising their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. For example, in Israel, prison staff do not have the right to form and join unions, nor do self-employed workers.89 In Denmark, certain groups of non-resident foreign workers do not have the right to collective bargaining.90

The Europe and Central Asia region scored poorly on indicators relating to government and business supply chains, although countries in the Europe subregion have among the strongest legislative responses globally in this area. France,91 Germany,92 and Norway93 have active mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence (mHRDD) legislation while the same type of legislation has been proposed Switzerland94 and the Netherlands.95 What this means in practice in Norway, for example, is that all Norwegian-domiciled “larger enterprises” (as determined by size and income thresholds) are required to carry out due diligence in identifying, preventing, and mitigating possible adverse impacts on human rights and labour rights. Failure to do so results in fines and/or injunctions. Encouragingly, progress in this area is likely to grow in the region. An EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD), including environmental concerns, was proposed in 2022 but has not yet been adopted.96 It would require in-scope companies to conduct due diligence on the human rights and environmental impacts of their operations and supply chains, and to take steps to address adverse impacts.

Table 3: Government response score, by country and milestone
Country Survivors identified and supported (%) Criminal justice mechanisms (%) National and regional level coordination (%) Risk factors are addressed (%) Government and business supply chains (%) Total (%)
United Kingdom 59 81 75 71 38 68
Netherlands 77 62 88 64 38 67
Portugal 73 73 75 64 25 67
Ireland 59 69 88 64 25 63
Norway 55 73 75 64 38 63
Spain 55 73 75 71 25 63
Sweden 59 69 63 79 25 63
Albania 55 69 75 79 13 62
Austria 59 65 75 71 25 62
Denmark 64 65 75 64 25 62
France 41 81 88 57 38 62
Georgia 68 65 75 71 0 62
Germany 50 81 63 57 38 62
Greece 68 62 75 64 25 62
Finland 55 62 88 71 25 60
Montenegro 68 73 63 57 0 60
Azerbaijan 64 69 63 64 0 59
Belgium 45 65 75 71 38 59
Croatia 59 65 75 64 13 59
Czechia 59 62 88 57 25 59
Italy 50 65 63 79 25 59
Latvia 64 65 63 57 25 59
Bosnia and Herzegovina 68 65 63 57 0 58
Cyprus 64 62 63 57 25 58
Lithuania 59 65 50 64 25 58
North Macedonia 68 65 75 50 0 58
Romania 59 65 75 50 25 58
Slovakia 50 62 63 79 25 58
Estonia 59 46 75 79 25 56
Serbia 64 69 63 50 0 56
Slovenia 50 65 63 64 25 56
Bulgaria 50 65 63 57 25 55
Hungary 50 58 63 71 25 55
Poland 50 65 75 50 25 55
Armenia 64 58 75 50 0 54
Luxembourg 50 62 50 50 25 51
Ukraine 64 54 63 50 0 51
Switzerland 50 50 50 64 25 50
Malta 64 58 38 29 25 49
Türkiye 64 54 63 36 0 49
Belarus 64 50 38 50 0 47
Iceland 55 50 38 50 25 47
Kyrgyzstan 41 65 63 43 0 47
Moldova 45 50 63 57 13 47
Kazakhstan 45 50 50 64 0 46
Uzbekistan 45 54 50 57 0 46
Israel 41 50 63 57 0 45
Kosovo 59 50 50 36 0 45
Tajikistan 23 54 50 36 0 36
Liechtenstein 27 42 25 29 13 31
Turkmenistan 14 46 25 21 0 26
Russia 5 46 38 21 0 24

Recommendations for governments

  1. Strengthen efforts to protect vulnerable populations in situations of conflict and disaster from modern slavery risks, including repealing hostile migration policies that place securitisation above human rights and expanding the provision of safe and regular migration pathways and screening asylum seekers and migrants for modern slavery indicators. This should include ending political, financial, and material support to the system of forcible returns from international waters in the Central Mediterranean Sea to Libya.

  2. Ensure that the right of survivors to not be treated as criminals for conduct that occurred while under the control of traffickers is enshrined in legislation.

  3. Enhance efforts to prevent discrimination against certain populations — such as Muslim, Roma, and Jewish people — and ensure that state policies serve to further integrate rather than target these communities.

  4. Ensure that legal loopholes that facilitate state-imposed forced labour are closed and that the practice is abolished in Belarus, Poland, Russia, and Turkmenistan.

  5. Expand enactment of mHRDD laws across the region to place more robust requirements on companies to report on identifying and mitigating modern slavery in their supply chains.


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3Amnesty International 2021, Europe and Central Asia Regional Overview. Available from: [1 September 2022 ].
4University of Nottingham Rights Lab 2022, The impact of Covid-19 and Covid-related restrictions on forced marriage: Data report, University of Nottingham. Available from: [13 March 2023].
5Helsinki Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 2017, Bride Kidnapping in the Kyrgyz Republic. Available from:,are%20raped%20in%20the%20process. [13 March 2023].
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8United Nations Refugee Agency 2023, Operational Data Portal. Available from: [27 April 2023]; International Organization for Migration 2023, Displacement Tracking Matrix: Ukraine. Available from: [27 April 2023].
9Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 2022, Recommendations of the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (SR/CTHB) on the need to enhance anti-trafficking prevention amid mass migration flows. Available from: [22 February 2023]. The Freedom Fund 2022, NEW REPORT SOUNDS ALARM ON UKRAINE TRAFFICKING RISKS. Available from: [10 May 2022].
102022, ‘Concern Grows Over Traffickers Targeting Ukrainian Refugees’, VOA News March 12, 2022. Available from: [20 March 2022], Tondo, L 2022, ‘Ukraine prosecutors uncover sex trafficking ring preying on women fleeing country’, The Guardian, 7 July 2022. Available from: [12 July 2022].
11Bauer-Babef, C 2022, ‘Trafficking and sexual exploitation of Ukrainian refugees on the rise’, Euractiv, 30 November 2022. Available from: [10 May 2023].
12United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, PD 2020, International Migrant Stock 2020. Available from: [22 February 2023].
13The World Bank 2021, Refugee population by country or territory of asylum – Europe and Central Asia. Available from: [11 April 2022].
14David, F, Bryant, K & Joudo Larsen, J 2019, Migrants and their vulnerability to human trafficking, modern slavery and forced labour, International Organization for Migration. Available from: [13 January 2022].
15Amnesty International 2021, Europe and Central Asia Regional Overview. Available from: [1 September 2022].
16Simsek, A 2022, ‘Germany’s Jewish community fears rise in antisemitic attacks in winter’, Anadolu Agency 8 November 2022. Available from: [1 January 2023].
172022, ‘Austria sees record number of antisemitic incidents’, AP News, 13 May 2022. Available from: [1 January 2023].
18Valadares, H 2019, ‘Why is France facing an upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks?’, France 24, 13 February 2019. Available from: [1 January 2023].
19Booth, R 2022, ‘Anti-Jewish hate incidents hit record high in UK’, The Guardian, 10 February 2022. Available from: [1 January 2023].
20Human Rights Watch 2019, The Alarming Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe. Available from: [1 May 2023].
21Hafez, F 2022, ‘Criminalizing Muslim agency in Europe: The case of ‘political Islam’ in Austria, Germany, and France’, Sage Journals Available from: [1 February 2023].
222022, ‘Watchdog: ‘Entrenched Authoritarianism’ In Eastern Europe, Central Asia Led To More Corruption In 2021’, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, 25 January 2022. Available from: [26 January 2022].
23Transparency International 2022, Corruption Perceptions Index. Available from: [22 January 2023].
24As above.
25Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations 2019, Direct Request (CEACR) adopted 2018, published 108th ILC session (2019): Belarus, ILO NORMLEX. Available from:,P11110_COUNTRY_ID,P11110_COUNTRY_NAME,P11110_COMMENT_YEAR:3960872,103154,Belarus,2018. [16 December 2021].
26Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations 2019, Direct Request (CEACR) adopted 2019, published 109th ILC session (2021) Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105) Poland (Ratification: 1958), International Labour Organization. Available from:,P11110_COUNTRY_ID,P11110_COUNTRY_NAME,P11110_COMMENT_YEAR:4022356,102809,Poland,2019. [18 August 2022].
27Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations 2021, Direct Request (CEACR) adopted 2020, published 109th ILC session (2021). Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105): Russian Federation, ILO NORMLEX. Available from: [16 December 2021].
28Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations 2021, Direct Request (CEACR) adopted 2019, published 109th ILC session (2021) Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105) Turkmenistan (Ratification: 1997), International Labour Organization. Available from:,P11110_COUNTRY_ID,P11110_COUNTRY_NAME,P11110_COMMENT_YEAR:4013853,103551,Turkmenistan,2019. [7 September 2022].
29Transparency International 2021, CPI 2021 FOR WESTERN EUROPE & EUROPEAN UNION: TROUBLE AHEAD FOR STAGNATING REGION. Available from: [21 January 2022].
30Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) 2020, Europes COVID-19 Spending Spree Unmasked. Available from: [20 September 2022].
31UNICEF 2020, Ending Child Poverty Available from: [3 January 2021].
32As above.
33Cingano, F 2014, ‘Trends in Income Inequality and its Impact on Economic Growth’, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers. Available from: [22 January 2022].
34United Nations 2022, Lack of Grain Exports Driving Global Hunger to Famine Levels, as War in Ukraine Continues, Speakers Warn Security Council. Available from: [22 January 2023].
35The World Bank 2022, Nearly 2.4 Billion Women Globally Dont Have Same Economic Rights as Men. Available from: [22 January 2023].
36Equality Now 2023, Europe and Central Asia. Available from: [22 February 2023].
37Amnesty International 2022, Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Protect Women From Violence in Crises and Beyond. Available from: [22 February 2023].
38The World Bank 2022, Gender Equality in Europe and Central Asia. Available from:,and%20women%20is%20about%2030%25. [22 January 2023].
39United Nations Developement Group 2017, Building more Inclusive, Sustainable and Propsperous societies in Europe and Central Asia Available from: [20 February 2020].
40The World Bank 2021, Toward a Resilient Recovery – Battling the Pandemic in Europe and Central Asia. Available from: [22 January 2022].
41As above.
42Eurofund 2020, Education, healthcare and housing: How access changed for children and families in 2020. Available from: [2 February 2023].
43European Commission 2022, ‘Drought in Europe: GDO Analytical Report’. Available from: [2 February 2022].
44Nichols, W 2019, Modern slavery risks set to rise as number of climate migrants surge, Verisk Maplecroft. Available from: [1 October 2021].
45The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) 2023, Operational Data Portal: Ukraine Refugee Situation. Available from: [7 May 2023].
46IOM UN Migration Global Data Institute: Displacement Tracking Matrix, Ukraine Available from: [7 May 2023].
472023, “Protection”, OHCA Services. Available from: [7 May 2023].
48Global Protection Cluster, 2023, “Field Operations: Ukraine”. Available from: [7 May 2023].
49The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2022, Conflict in Ukraine: Key evidence on risks of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants Available from: ://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/ [7 May 2023].
50Migration and Home Affairs, 2023, “Temporary Protection”, European Commission. Available from: [7 May 2023].
51UNHCR Operational Data Portal Ukraine Situation: Regional Refugee Response Plan, January – December 2023. Available from: [7 May 2023].
52UNHCR Operational Data Portal 2023, Regional Child Protection Sub-working Group – Ukraine Refugee Situation. Available from: [7 May 2023].
53Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime 2023, The vulnerable millions: Organized crime risks in Ukraine’s mass displacement. Available from: [7 May 2023].
54UNHCR Operational Data Portal 2023, Regional Child Protection Sub-working Group – Ukraine Refugee Situation. Available from: [7 May 2023].
55Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime 2023, The vulnerable millions: Organized crime risks in Ukraine’s mass displacement. Available from: [7 May 2023].
56United Nations General Assembly Security Council 2022, Report of the Secretary-General on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace. Available from: [7 May 2023].
57The World Bank 2022, GDP per capita, PPP (current international $) – Europe & Central Asia. Available from:[2 February 2022].
58Anti Slavery International 2022, The New Plan for Immigration wont help survivors of modern slavery. Available from: [1 October 2022].
59UK Government 2021, New Plan for Immigration: Policy Statement. Available from: [1 October 2022].
60Illegal Migration Bill, 2023 (UK Parliament)
612023, ‘UK Asylum and Policy’, UNHCR, 7 March. Available from: [23 March 2023].
622023, ‘Our response to the publication of the Illegal Migration Bill’, The Salvation Army, 7 March. Available from: [23 March 2023]; Stevenson, R 2023, ‘New Illegal Migration Bill could endanger victims of modern slavery’, The House, 9 March. Available from: [23 March 2023].
63The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland n.d., Brexits impact on UK modern slavery governance. Available from: [1 September 2022].
64Ramos, RD 2021, State-imposed forced labour: Outlining the situation in Central Asia, International Union Rights, vol. 28 , no. 3–4, pp. 26–29. Available from:, [22 February 2022].
65Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations 2020, Direct Request (CEACR) – adopted 2020, published 109th ILC session (2021) Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) – Poland (Ratification: 1958) Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 – Poland (Ratification: 2017), International Labour Organization. Available from:,P11110_COUNTRY_ID,P11110_COUNTRY_NAME,P11110_COMMENT_YEAR:4054722,102809,Poland,2020. [18 August 2022].
66Luxmoore, M 2021, ‘As Russia Touts Convict Labor To Offset An Exodus Of Migrants, Some Fear ‘A Return To The Gulag’’, Radio Free Europe, 5 June. Available from: [7 September 2022].
67As above.
68Chance, M & Burrows, E 2018, ‘Russia’s hidden world of North Korean labor’, CNN. Available from: [13 March 2023]; 2019, ‘The secret world of Russia’s North Korean workers’, BBC. Available from: [13 March 2023].
69Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations 2019, Direct Request (CEACR) – adopted 2018, published 108th ILC session (2019): Belarus, ILO NORMLEX. Available from:,P11110_COUNTRY_ID,P11110_COUNTRY_NAME,P11110_COMMENT_YEAR:3960872,103154,Belarus,2018. [16 December 2021].
70  United Nations Human Rights Council 2019, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus A/HRC/41/52, United Nations, pp. 3, 13, 18. Available from: [6 September 2022].
71Uzbek Forum for Human Rights 2022, A Turning Point in Uzbekistans Cotton Harvest: No central government-imposed forced labor, freedom of association needed to sustain reforms, p. 3. Available from: [23 March 2022].
72As above.
73Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 2021, Trafficking in Persons Report: Bulgaria Country Narrative, United States Department of State. Available from: [1 February 2022].
74Walk Free Foundation 2018, Global Slavery Index: Government Responses Data. Available from:
75Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 2020, Trafficking in Persons Report: Albania Country Narrative, United States Department of State. Available from: [1 February 2022].
76Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 2020, Trafficking in Persons Report: Portugal Country Narrative, United States Department of State. Available from: [1 February 2022].
77Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 2020, Trafficking in Persons Report: Serbia Country Narrative, United States Department of State. Available from: [1 February 2022].
78Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) 2019, Report concerning the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Germany: Second round evaluation. Available from: [1 February 2020].
79Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 2020, Trafficking in Persons Report: Hungary Country Narrative United States Department of State. Available from: [1 March 2022].
80Irish Human Rights and Equality Submission 2020, Commission Takes on New Role as Irelands National Rapporteur on the Trafficking of Human Beings. Available from: [1 March 2021].
81The Government of The United Kingdom and the Government of The Republic of Rwanda 2022, Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Rwanda: Policy Paper, UK Home Office Available from: [20 April 2022].
82The Guardian 2022, ‘Rwanda asylum flight cancelled after 11th-hour ECHR intervention’. Available from: [1 December 2022].
83AAA and others v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWHC 3230
84BBC News 2022, ‘What is the UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda?’. Available from: [2 March 2023].
85Medicins Sans Frontieres 2022, Out of Libya: Opening safe pathways for vulnerable migrants stuck in Libya, Medicins Sans Frontieres. Available from: [3 February 2022].
86Frontex 2023, Migratory Routes, Frontex. Available from: [21 March 2023].
87Medicins Sans Frontieres 2022, Out of Libya: Opening safe pathways for vulnerable migrants stuck in Libya, Medicins Sans Frontieres. Available from: [3 February 2022].
88Lewis, A 2022, ‘EU funds border control deal in Egypt with migration via Libya on rise’, Reuters, 31 October. Available from: [3 February 2023].
89Survey of violations of Trade Union Rights 2022, Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining, Strike: Israel. Available from: [1 December 2022].
90Survey of violations of Trade Union Rights 2022, Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining, Strike: Denmark. Available from: [1 December 2022].
91Law on the Corporate Duty of Vigilance, 2017 (Act no. 2017-399) (France)
92Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains, 2021 (Germany)
93The Transparency Act, 2021 (Norway)
94Swiss Code of Obligations, 964j et seqq (Switzerland), Due Diligence and Transparency Ordinance, 2023 (Switzerland)
95Child Labour Due Diligence Law, 2019 (Netherlands)
96European Commission 2022, Just and sustainable economy: Commission lays down rules for companies to respect human rights and environment in global value chains, European Commission. Available from: [23 August 2022].
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