EU Civil Society Platform was officially launched on the 31 May 2013 in Brussels. Civil society organisations from EU Member States, working against trafficking in human beings, were invited to apply for participation. Applications were examined by the European Commission ensuring a maximum number of participants with a geographical balance to include all Member States if possible and taking into account a diversity of areas of expertise and type of organisation in order to allow the EU to understand, with a comprehensive approach, the reality which could effect the EU policy. A hundred organisations were represented in the first meeting of the Platform.
The second meeting of this Platform was scheduled for 9-10 December 2013. Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, welcomed new representatives from four non-EU Members States such as Albania, Turkey, Ukraine and Morocco. The aim of this meeting was to update participants with the recent developments of the European Commission and to present an outline of the Online Platform, and to discuss in the light of this information as a basis for assessing and further improving the policy. The representatives also participated in workshops on topics suggested earlier by Members of the Platform. The three areas of discussion were:
- Involvement of the Civil Society in the Implementation of the Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings
- Victims-Centred Approach: Identification, Assistance and Protection, National Referral Mechanisms
- Demand Reduction
There was an introduction to each working group done respectively by the speakers who participate in the meetings of the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREM): Venla Roth – NREM Finland, Patricia Le Cocq – NREM Belgium, Romulus Nicolae Ungureanu – NREM Romania.
Full description of the workshops is available here.
All participants were invited to the networking dinner at the hotel. It was very kind of Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, to express her interest and give attention to the work being done by the Civil Society Organisations. She stressed that the phenomenon of Human Trafficking is now more and more recognised even among youth. Having received many school/college groups she said that all had raised questions about Human Trafficking. This is a sign of a growing awareness consequent to many raising activities being undertaken by many stakeholders working in the field.
All groups had good discussions which brought many points for consideration and suggestions for future actions. Among the most important, there were:
GROUP No. 1.
- Involving civil society is fundamental for the fight against HT. It is good to have diverse ngos as members of the Platform.
- It is important to raise awareness of the Directive within society using the media to explain the role of the document.
- Directives should have a direct effect. However the experience shows that some countries who have been informed about transposition of the Directive have not really implemented it.
- Provisions and actions of the civil society to enable them to work and to prioritise for the benefit of the victims: non-punishment, access to assistance, right to protection, right to compensation, protection from the secondary victimisation.
- Shadow reporting from the different stakeholders working in the field of anti-trafficking would help the European Commission to see progress made on the implementation of the Directive. Full transparency is very important to get a real picture of the situation.
- Stress on prevention – important to use education.
GROUP No. 2.
- There is a lack of formalisation of the role of the ngos in the recognition of the victims of HT.
- Emphasis should be put on collecting evidence from the victims. Some victims are excluded from being identified.
- Promoting victim’s rights on the website banners.
- Address the lack of protection resulting from free movement.
- Need of training among social workers.
- Internal trafficking is on the rise. More victims of labour trafficking noticed.
- Mapping of ngos and services and what they provide would be helpful.
- Promoting new models of guardianship.
GROUP No. 3.
- Big challenge for many ngos is the issue of funding. EU funds are a chance for many but hard to access and manage (example of an ngo which had to close down).
- Different forms of trafficking – different groups of interests.
- Exit programme for labour exploitation.
- Problem of domestic servitude.
- The same demand for prostitution is equated with the same demand which results in sexual exploitation.
- Gender dimension when speaking about demand.
- Postulate to penalise/criminalise the demand on the EU level (directive) and harmonise regulations.
- Human Trafficking is the only violiation of Human Rights with money behind it.
Concluding the Second Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform, Myria Vassiliadou led our attention to the day of our meeting, 10th of December which is Human Rights Day. We observed one minute of silence for all those for whom we work, victims of present-day slavery. She thanked all participants for their presence, work on the topics and reminded about the coming challenge for the EU Member States which are obliged to measure reduction of the demand.
Full report from this meeting will be public and available on the EU Civil Society Platform website.