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Report from the Sixth EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels

 

9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015

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EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Persons, 21 October 2015

9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015

High Level Conference Marking the 9thEU Anti-Trafficking Day, 18 October

Organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of European Union, the conference took place in Brussels on the 20th of October, 2015. The Mary Ward Loreto Foundation was invited to attend as an active participant of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings (THB).
The theme, “Time for concrete actions: Implementing the Legal and Policy Framework on Trafficking in Human beings” and  aim of the conference was to develop a policy for the implementation of the EU legal framework and policies addressing trafficking in Human Beings. The Conference marks the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, instituted on 18th of October, 2007 with a view to highlighting the EU common commitment to eradicating trafficking in human persons.
Two important components of the Conference were:
– Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements & Keynote Address
– High Level Panel, Interactive Discussion.
Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements and Keynote Address
Ms. Myria Vassilidou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, European Commission,   introduced1 the meeting and welcomed the 200+ participants, the representatives of the EU Parliament, the EU Commissioners, Ministers, Europol, Eurojust and Civil Society. She explained that the main priorities common to the European Union and the European Commission are: “Following the money and reducing demand for trafficking in Human Beings in all forms of exploitation”.
These important issues will be the subject of the two interactive discussions of the honourable panellists listed in the Appendix.  After the introduction Ms. Vassilidou concluded by saying that: “States are strong, and they can protect and defend themselves, but individuals, especially those exploited, are not as strong and it is our duty to protect them.”
(…) Full text available at the end of this post.
 

The EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings

This event was organized on the 21st of October, 2015, comprising three parallel workshops. The NGO representatives were divided into three groups to discuss a special topic, after which they presented and shared their thoughts on the issue to the collective audience.
Workshop 1. Children as high risk group of trafficking
The members of this group focused mainly on unaccompanied children as well as on the child refugee crisis. The group shared their concerns for the fake ‘adoption’ of children and for children involved in forced labour and domestic servitude. Another concern highlighted by this group was the recruitment of children in armed conflicts and child trafficking for exploitation in forced criminal activities.
Worksop 2. Emerging Concerns
The second group focused on the current Syrian refugee crisis, which is leading to an increased risk of people being exploited and trafficked. They recommended a greater awareness about this issue and called on more people to become involved in preventing exploitation at a national level, when the refugees are being assisted in transitory or residential camps.
Also another emerging concern raised by this group was the sham of forced marriages which leads to different forms of exploitation, especially in domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
Workshop 3. Prevention of trafficking in Human Beings
The third group focused on demand, reduction and prevention initiatives. The MWL Youth Manager was a member of this group and made a presentation at the group session.
They [who?] The group commenced by reflecting upon Article 18.48 of the EU Directive: “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.” This article criminalises the use of services by each citizen who knows that the person who offers the services is a victim of trafficking. In this context ‘’following the buyers’’ was thought as a prevention initiative which would lead to identifying the victims. While the conviction of buyers can reduce demand, it is very difficult to prove that the buyer is aware that he/she is purchasing services from a victim of trafficking. It was felt that the key to success is to work locally in order to change the mentality of our governments and our judiciary and then start lobbying at a European level.
Another suggested action regarding prevention was to ensure that there is a legal requirement for businesses to state publicly their policy against Trafficking in Human Beings and show that their supply chain is free from exploitation.
At the end of the group session, it was decided to discuss the topics relating to each form of exploitation and to identify concrete ideas to be implemented to prevent trafficking. The group was subdivided into smaller groups who will continue to work on it by means of the e-Platform.
Outcomes of the Event   
It was both a good opportunity and experience to attend these very important meetings. It has been a meaningful exchange on best practices. It was so positive to participate and contribute to meetings where the highest institutions of the EU commit to eradicating trafficking in human beings.
Ten contacts were established and more than thirty MWL leaflets were distributed in the Market Place.

Prepared by Gazmir Memaj, Project Manager, Mary Ward Loreto Youth

Full text available here: Report from the Sixth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings, October 2015