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Round table on action against trafficking in human beings, St. Petersburg, 18 April 2012
Trafficking in human beings remains a burning issue, which is why the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Interparliamentary Assembly and the Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) organised together, for the first time, a round table on this subject on 18 April 2012 in St. Petersburg. The event brought together some one hundred participants, including parliamentarians, public officials from CIS countries, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, researchers and representatives of non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations.
In an opening statement at the outset of the round table, Ms Maud de Boer Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, recalled the pioneering role of the pan-European organisation in combating this abominable scourge which affects millions of women, men and children and stressed that the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings “provides States with effective tools to prevent trafficking, protect its victims and prosecute traffickers”.
The OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Ms Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, highlighted the role of parliamentarians, saying that “Parliaments should establish better regulation and monitoring of recruitment agents, which are often the first segment of a trafficking chain as they take advantage of the social vulnerability of workers to establish debt bondage and exploitation”. The need for national Parliaments to unite against human trafficking was also stressed by Ms Sahiba Gafarova, member of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe Convention, Ms Petya Nestorova, spoke about the legal obligations of Parties under the Convention, its unique mechanism designed to monitor compliance with these obligations and the first results of GRETA’s evaluations.
The added value of the Council of Europe Convention as a co-operation tool, a “real code of international legal assistance”, was explained by the President of the GRETA, Mr Nicolas Le Coz. Recalling that the judicial authorities of the current 35 Parties to the Convention are expected to co-operate to the widest extent possible, he warned that “delays and obstructions in mutual co-operation in criminal matters are in the interest of traffickers and seriously penalise the safety and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking”.