Case Law Database

Trafficking in persons

Diamond City

Fact Summary

In the period of January 2006 up to and including 4 September 2006, in Eindhoven (Netherlands), the defendant was alleged to been involved in trafficking several Chinese persons. The victims worked for about eleven hours a day and six days a week in the defendant’s restaurant. The victims worked in exchange for food and lodging. They received an inadequate salary and were housed in a small room in the premises of the restaurant. The defendant prevented them from leaving the building or from seeking contact with the outside world.

The defendant was charged with recruitment, transportation, transferring, housing or receipt of persons for the purpose of exploitation under article 273(a)(1) and article 197(a)(2) of the Dutch Criminal Code. The indictment stated that the victims were exploited through their obligation to work long hours at the defendant’s restaurant in exchange for food, housing and a very low salary.



Abuse of power or a position of vulnerability
Purpose of Exploitation:
Forced labour or services
Form of Trafficking:
Sector in which exploitation takes place:

Cross-Cutting Issues


... for

• completed offence

... based on

• criminal intention

... as involves

• principal offender(s)



• occurred across one (or more) international borders (transnationally)

Involved Countries

Netherlands (Kingdom of the)


Procedural Information

Legal System:
Civil Law
Latest Court Ruling:
Supreme Court
Type of Proceeding:

1st Instance:

Court: District Court

Location: Den Bosch

Date of decision: 8 March 2007


2nd Instance:

Court: Court of Appeal
Location: Den Bosch

Date of decision: 30 January 2008


3rd Instance:

Court: Supreme Court

Date of decision: 27 October 2009


4th Instance:

Court: Court of Appeal

Location: Den Bosch


Victims / Plaintiffs in the first instance

Several Chinese

Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

Legal Reasoning:

1st Instance:

The Court acquitted the defendant in relation to the offence of human trafficking because it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The Court of first instance found that it could not be said that the defendant took active steps to induce the Chinese persons to come to work in the restaurant. It was not proved that the defendant purposely abused the weak/vulnerable position of the Chinese persons when providing accommodation or receiving them.

The Court took into considerations the following facts:

- the Chinese persons were already in a vulnerable or weak position as they were residing illegally in the Netherlands;

- none of them owed any money or had any other kind of obligation to those in the restaurant;

- they were all free to leave at any time. Some of them had indeed previously worked in one or more other places.

Regarding the charge of human smuggling for profit, the Court deemed that it had been proven that the defendant acted for the purpose of making profit, either directly or indirectly.

The Court thus convicted the defendant to a custodial sentence for a period of 24 months, eight months of which was to be suspended, with an operational period of two years, with deductions in accordance with Article 27 of the Criminal Code.

Charges / Claims / Decisions

Charge details:
Human trafficking for the purpose of exploitation
Not Guilty
Charge details:
Human smuggling for profit
A custodial sentence for a period of 24 months, eight months of which was to be suspended, with an operational period of two years, with deductions in accordance with Article 27 of the Criminal Code
Fine / Payment to State:
Appellate Decision:

2nd Instance:

The Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the District Court.

It was contended that the presumption of ‘abuse of authority arising from the actual state of affairs’ and ‘abuse of a vulnerable position’ required a certain initiative and positive action on the part of the perpetrator, whereby the weaker or vulnerable position of the victims was consciously abused. The Court of Appeal stated that the defendant did not take the initiative or any active steps with regard to the Chinese persons, for example, by approaching them or inducing them to come and work at his restaurant. It was held that the defendant responded to requests and, in a number of cases, even pleas from the Chinese people to work. Under these circumstances, the Court of Appeal held that it had not been proved that the defendant purposely misused the weaker/vulnerable position of the Chinese people or misused the authority arising from the actual state of affairs when housing or receiving them.

Regarding the alleged exploitation, the Court of Appeal held that the working conditions of the victims did not constitute an "exploitative situation". It should be noted that article 273(a)(1) of the Criminal Code did not require exploitation to have taken place; the article required no more than that the perpetrator acted for the “purpose” of exploitation. Therefore, the Court of Appeal's judgment should be understood as requiring that the perpetrator's purpose lay in the actual working situation. The Court of Appeal was of the opinion that this working situation did not constitute exploitation and that the purpose of exploitation was not an issue.

The public prosecution service appealed to the Supreme Court.

3rd Instance:

The public prosecution argued on appeal that the Court of Appeal had wrongly interpreted article 273(a) of the old Dutch Criminal Code, in particular the elements “abuse of a vulnerable position”. The appeal submitted that the Court of Appeal had failed to give adequate reasons for it’s finding that there was no exploitation.

The Supreme Court ruled that to prove abuse it was sufficient to show conditional intent on the part of the suspect with respect to those circumstances; the same applied for cases where the victims were in a vulnerable position.

The Supreme Court reached the conclusion that the Court of Appeal’s decision that there was no situation of exploitation was incomprehensible, particularly given the Court’s earlier findings. These findings included that some victims worked 11 to13 hours daily, just for room and board, and other victims worked for a monthly income of just EUR 450 to EUR 800. They also considered that they had no more than five days off a month and that they had to share their bedrooms with others.

The case was referred back to the Court of Appeal in Den Bosch.

4th Instance:

The Court of Appeal convicted the defendant of human trafficking. He was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment and 240 hours of community service.


Supreme Court