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Report from the Third EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels

 

Third Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform in Brussels, 7-8 May 2014
Third Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform in Brussels, 7-8 May 2014

The EU Civil Society Platform met for the third time on May 7th and 8th. This time the platform started with a Joint Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform with the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREMs). The National Rapporteurs are responsible for monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policy at the national level and play a key role in data collection on trafficking in human beings at national and EU level. The first and main focus was on the implementation of Article 19 of the Directive 2011/36/EU. There was also a time to get in contact and discuss common issues. At the end of the day there was a discussion and recommendation for a follow up meeting.
The EU wants a victim-centred approach: It is important to get testimonies of the victims of human trafficking in order to sentence the perpetrators. Video testimonies can be helpful as this helps the victim to avoid a re-traumatisation. Law enforcement has been difficult. Traffickers and their companies will be pursued. The demand is expected to be throttled, we want to criminalize the clients of victims of human trafficing. It can not be, that somebody who profits knowingly from a victim of human trafficking is not at risk to be punished. Some countries have prohibited prostitution, because most sex workers are victims of trafficking. An EU Business coalition was launched to improve the awareness for zero tolerance for the use of persons living and working in slave-like conditions. For example the group was encouraged to avoid buying products, which had been made under slave conditions, by victims of human traffikcing. There has to be an education for human rights in schools. Also cinemas and theaters should be used to raise this awareness. There have to be shelters for victims.
Representatives from Portugal, Croatia , Germany and Romania gave explanations as to how the reporting mechanisms in their countries function.
One phenomena is actually that the number of sentenced perpetrators has decreased, while the number of victims has increased. This does not mean that the prosecution is less effective, but that the possibilities to spot a victim are better. We know that there are more victims, as the collected datas show. We have to improve the collection of our data.
 
The next day, 8th of May, after a short evaluation of the joint meeting, there were three parallel workshops:
Working Group I (identification)
Discussion Points:
1. Which elements should be included in the EU reporting on Article 11 par. 4 of Directive
2011/36/EU (identification as part of the national referral mechanisms, exchange of best
practices on effective measures taken at national level to early identify victims,  the
multidisciplinary approach, need for guidelines/common indicators?)
2. How could the civil society contribute to reporting on identification as per Article 11 par. 4 of
the Directive (cooperation between civil society and law enforcement, education, training on
identification, awareness raising?)
Answers:
The disussion in this workshop came to the conclusion that it would be better if the NGOs produced supplementary reports, and after the report from the member state has been given. The NGOs could add information, the NGOs could also work in groups for their supplementary reports and they could use the e-platform, which will be launched in June, to work together in producing these reports. Until now we have no example for such a work, as it is the first time that the civil society is included in such reporting.
 
Working Group II (assistance and protection)
Discussion Points:
1. Which elements should be included in EU reporting on Articles 11-12 of Directive
2011/36/EU (assistance and protection including protection in criminal investigations and
proceedings) and Article 13 -16 (Special provisions on assistance and protection to child
victims)?
2. How could the civil society contribute to reporting on these Articles?
Answers:
Human trafficking can not only be fought in identifying victims or in migration policies. The NGOs are involved in the process of identifying victims of human trafficking. This involvement needs to be implemented officially, until now it is done but not implemented as it should be. The NGOs could produce an additional report or a shadow report. Our report should be given after the official report is done, to higlight discrepancies between the member state report and the NGOs reports, for example recording the number of victims. The NGOs not only want to give data but also reflect on the process of identifiying a victim and the way of dencouncing and sentencing.
 
Working Group III (demand)
Discussion Points:
1. Which elements should be included in EU reporting on Article 18 Directive 2011/36/EU
(Prevention)?
2. How could the civil society contribute to reporting on Article 18 (Prevention) (education,
training, internet, awareness raising campaigns, research, criminalisation of use of victims of
trafficking)?
Answers:
All forms of trafficking have to be mentioned in the reports. There has also to be reported how much funds the member states give to support the NGOs and the fight against human trafficking. Some forms of forced marriage are not recognized as a form of trafficking, this has to be clarified. Who has the profit, and how has the demand risen? This would be the way to decrease the demand. There are some states that have also profited from the exploitation of victims of human trafficking and they are increasing the demand. There has to be reporting about the trafficking from men also. The NGOs should report after the member state reports in order to add things and to produce shadow reports or reports in which they also give their experience about what is helping to combat the demand and what is not helping in this work.
 
Report written by Sr. Mirjam Beike RGS