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Five years of commitment to action against human trafficking in Europe
Strasbourg, 1 February 2013 – Today marks the 5th anniversary of the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
With an emphasis on the human rights of victims of trafficking, the Convention contains measures to ensure the proper identification of victims, their assistance and protection, as well as the prosecution of traffickers and international co-operation.
The Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), which monitors the implementation of obligations under the Convention, has already published 16 country evaluation reports. GRETA’s reports on France and Latvia have just been made public. It is clear that not only human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation persists, but trafficking for the purpose of forced labour or services is on the increase in Europe.
The effective protection of victims and witnesses against retaliation from traffickers and the compensation of victims are amongst some of the concrete measures put forward by the independent expert group.
“The lack of victim and witness protection programmes constitutes an obstacle to testimonies and the collection of evidence that would help secure the conviction of traffickers”, observes Nicolas Le Coz, President of GRETA.
He adds: “The inadequacy or lack of compensation for victims who have suffered considerable damage has led GRETA to urge certain governments to ensure victim compensation through the setting up of a national fund and the confiscation of assets and money unlawfully gained by the traffickers”.
While 39 States have already accepted to be bound by the Convention, which demonstrates the deep awareness in Europe of the urgent need for action against human trafficking and co-operation, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Russia, the Czech Republic and Turkey are still to join. “These eight countries would be better armed against trafficking networks with the comprehensive and effective framework which ensues from the Convention”, underlined the President of GRETA.
“The Convention was made in Europe, but it is not meant just for Europe”, stated Nicolas Le Coz. “We should continue to work towards its promotion beyond the European continent so that its provisions and the co-operation framework that it provides can benefit other regions as well.”