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Report from the Fifth EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels

 

EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings
On the 5th April 2011 Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council was set up, to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings to protect its victims. This Directive establishes minimum rules in the European Union (EU) level concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of trafficking in human beings. It also provides measures aimed at better prevention of this phenomenon, and at improving the protection of victims.
At the local, national, regional and international level, many organizations, NGOs, governmental organizations and groups, work to combat trafficking from various angles and disciplines, often in a non-coordinated way. Effective and efficient efforts to combat trafficking need a coherent multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary approach. The strengthening of the network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms is an essential part of such an approach at the EU level.
The establishment of the rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms in line with Article 19 of the EU Directive is crucial for such coherence at national levels and is therefore an important obligation for Member States.
To further adjust activities and facilitate cooperation an EU Civil Society Platform against THB was established in May 2013, which is to meet twice a year. Over 100 organizations participate in the platform.
Cecilia MalmströmOn 31st May 2013, Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Home Affairs, announced during a press conference the launch of the new EU Civil Society Platform against trafficking in human beings, where over 100 European civil society organizations are joining forces. The Europe-wide Platform, started to serve as a forum for civil society organizations working at European, national and local levels, in the field of human rights, children’s rights, women’s rights and gender equality, migrants’ rights and shelters. Participants are able to exchange experiences and concretise ideas on how to best assist victims, expand their networks, and prevent others from falling victims to this crime.
This platform is supplemented with an EU Civil Society e-Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings. In May 2014 the Commission organized a joint meeting for the Civil Society Platform and the National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms.
Since the second meeting, four neighbouring priority countries (Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Ukraine), working at the European and International level, were invited to the EU Platform, and since this time Sr. Mirjam Beike RGS attended on behalf of RENATE and MWL.
 
EU Civil Society Platform MeetingThe Second Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings gathered representatives of 98 civil society organizations from 27 Member States and four non-EU countries, and of NGOs working at the European and international level. After a Commission presentation on the latest developments related to trafficking in human beings at the EU level, the participants split into three working groups to discuss:

  • The involvement of civil society in the implementation of the Directive 2011/36/EU
  • The victims-centred approach stipulated in the Directive and
  • Demand reduction.

 
The Third Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings took place in Brussels on 7-8 May 2014, and gathered representatives from over one-hundred civil society organisations from EU Member States and four neighbouring priority countries, working at the European and international level. The first day of the meeting was an occasion for NGOs participating in the Platform to meet with the representatives of the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms. On the second day of the meeting the importance of discussing the concrete proposals for the contribution of NGOs to the reporting processes as per Articles 19-20 of the THB Directive was stressed.
 
The Fourth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings took place in Brussels on 21-22 October 2014, and gathered representatives from 92 civil society organisations from EU Member States (MS) and four neighbouring priority countries (Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Ukraine), working at the European and International level. The first day of the meeting was the second occasion for NGOs participating in the Platform to meet with the representatives of the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREMs). On the second day, 22 October 2014 three parallel Workshops took place:

  • Workshop I – Early identification of victims of THG
  • Workshop II – Assistance to and protection of victims of THB
  • Workshop II – Ensuring demand reduction.

 
The Fifth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings took place in Brussels on 21-22 May 2015. The main focus this time were three workshops, where the members could report about their experience in the member states according to the following topics. This was very interesting and fruitful, because a whole picture of Europe was exposed and the priority countries (Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Ukraine) also shared their experiences and were open to questions and discussion about their various challenges in the field.

  • Workshop 1: Children as high risk group of trafficking
  • Workshop 2: Emerging concerns (sham marriages, forced criminality, trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal vs. organ trafficking)
  • Workshop 3: Prevention of trafficking in human beings.

RENATE Members with EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou (second from right) and Katarzyna Cuadrat-Grzybowska (second from left)
RENATE Members with EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou (second from right) and Katarzyna Cuadrat-Grzybowska (second from left)

 
Short evaluation for the four meetings with participation of RENATE/MWL
Main objectives of this Platform: to be a forum for the civil society organizations to engage at the EU level, to facilitate partnerships and synergies between actors, to inform on the implementation of the EU Strategy, and for the European Commission, to be better informed about the challenges civil society organizations face.
Achievement of these objectives:
Sr Mirjam distributed the leaflets and brochures from MWL at the conference and made some contacts. A real co-working has not started because the services of the institutions at the EU Platform are specific to their country. RENATE is a network of networks and so we are there under the umbrella of MWL. Mirjam also distributed information about the shelter in Albania managed by Different and Equal (D&E).
To hear about the EU Strategy was very interesting. Albania is not a member state of the EU, so when the members of the National Referral Mechanism were invited, twice, it did not make such a big sense for a country such as Albania to be present as Albania was not yet subject to EU Policy.
What was most useful was to give actual information about the situation in Albania to the working groups. This is something that was also interesting for other countries. There was a good co-working with a representative from Greece, this representative is a native of Albania, so we could give some information about trafficking and the cross border trafficking. Living two years at the border of Greece, meant that this topic was shared with good information.
 
Report written by Sr. Mirjam Beike RGS