Federal Court of Justice (BGH), Judgment as of 4/18/2007
File number 2 StR 571/06

Key issues

Criminal proceedings regarding human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation; interpretation of the element “inducement” in the case of a person under 21 years of age.


Citing its own decisions, the criminal division of the highest appellate court (BGH) held that a person can only be induced to work as a prostitute, and therefore human trafficking can only be found, if such person had previously wanted, at least temporarily, to give up working as a prostitute or if the perpetrator believed that such person no longer wanted to work as a prostitute. On this basis, the BGH denied the appeal of the public prosecutor against the judgment of the court of first instance of 16 August 2006.

The accused maintained a sexual relationship with Ms K., who was under 21 years of age. Both of them were addicted to drugs. The couple financed their basic living expenses and their drug consumption partly from the money the accused earned from his job as a platform builder and partly from what Ms K. earned as a street prostitute (for drugs) - which she was already doing before she moved in with the accused - and as a prostitute in a commonly used apartment. They lived together from the middle of January 2003 to the middle of September 2005 in the apartment rented by him until K. was taken in as an in-patient in a clinic. She left the clinic prematurely, however, with the help of the accused in order to satisfy her drug addiction. The court of first instance had acquitted the accused of the charges of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, of exercising control over a prostitute, and of providing narcotic substances to a minor. The public prosecutor’s appeal against this to the BGH was dismissed. The accused’s acquittal remained in place.

The BGH saw it as having been proved that K. worked as a prostitute to satisfy her drug addiction and that this was not influenced by the conduct of the accused. The fact that he had helped her to leave the clinic and that he took her in again in his apartment was found by the court not to constitute an “inducement to work as a prostitute”. There had been no actual or, from the point of view of the accused, presumed indications that K. had previously wanted to stop working as a prostitute. She had also left the clinic on her own free will or to satisfy her drug addiction and to work as a prostitute to finance it.

Decision in full text:

BGH_18_04_2007 (PDF, 69 KB, not barrier-free, in German)

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