Exploitative sham marriages: exploring the links between human trafficking and sham marriages

European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) in cooperation with partners from Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania and the Slovak Republic, has recently completed a transnational project entitled “Preventing human trafficking and sham marriages: a multidisciplinary solution” (HESTIA). The project is the first systematic research on the links between human trafficking and sham marriages. The final report consists of five individual country reports in addition to an introductory chapter which summarises the main findings. The full report can be downloaded as pdf. from HEUNI's website:

In short, the project was coordinated by the Latvian Ministry of Interior and conducted under the European Union programme “Prevention of and Fight against Crime”. The project team developed the concept “exploitative sham marriage” in order to describe the phenomenon studied. Each partner conducted a national research which was coordinated and led by HEUNI. Primarily qualitative data was collected, such as expert and victim interviews in combination with case descriptions from NGOS and embassies. Also statistical information and pre-trial investigation and court material were utilised. The report is written for a large variety of experts and professionals working in the field of anti-trafficking.