Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings : Modern-Day Slavery: Member States' Wait-and-See Policy Denounced

European Social Policy, May 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings : Modern-Day Slavery: Member States' Wait-and-See Policy Denounced


More victims, less convictions and a generalised delay in the implementation by EU member states of a 2011 directive against human trafficking - a modern form of slavery in Europe. On 15 April, the Commissioner for Internal Security, Cecilia Malmstrom, spoke out against this paradoxical situation and threatened the straggler states with reprisal measures. Only six member states (the Czech Republic, Latvia, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden) had implemented the directive by the 6 April deadline. The aim of this directive is to harmonise minimum sentences against human trafficking and provide better protection for victims, namely children. Three countries have partially implemented the directive: Belgium, Lithuania and Slovenia. Yet the situation is worse than ever, with some 23,600 victims detected between 2008 and 2010 - an 18% increase over the period. As can be expected, sexual exploitation is the main side of this type of crime (62% of victims), followed by forced labour (25%) and the category other' (14%), which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced begging, removal of organs, forced marriages and selling of children. Women remain the most affected, making up 68% of victims, compared with men, who represent 17%. Malmstrom said her services could not understand the member states' wait-and-see policy. Her services would find out the reason, she said, adding that whether red tape or other reasons were to blame, light should be shed on the delay, otherwise her services would take the necessary retaliatory measures.

According to Eurostat, human trafficking is a particularly acute phenomena in Romania, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Estonia. "Many victims come from Roma communities," Malmstrom noted. Her services have also looked into why the number of convictions has decreased, going from 1,445 in 2009 to 1,339 in 2009. Police forces reportedly told Malmstrom's services that human trafficking was difficult to prove so Malmstrom and her team intend to knuckle down and hammer out a common definition. Malmstrom has also called for the training of police forces to be stepped up. …

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