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The Anti-Trafficking Division of the Council of Europe, in collaboration with the Bulgarian National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, organised an international expert conference entitled Making Prevention Work: Addressing the Root Causes of Human Trafficking in Europe. The conference took place on 4-5 December 2012 in Sofia, Bulgaria and brought together some 130 participants from 37 countries, including high ranking officials, national anti-trafficking co-ordinators, diplomats, law enforcement officials, social workers, business people, civil society representatives, academics and journalists. There were also representatives of international organisations (UNODC, IOM, OSCE/ODIHR, EU and ICMPD).
In an opening statement at the outset of the conference, Ms Marja Ruotanen, Director of Justice and Human Dignity at DG 1 Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe, said: “Human trafficking targets the most vulnerable people of our societies - it breaks the lives of women, men and children. All countries, whether of origin, transit or destination, are concerned by the need to step up prevention. This conference aims to make the link between prevention at the source, in countries of origin, where lack of employment opportunities, social exclusion, ethnic and gender discrimination drive people into the hands of traffickers, and prevention at the receiving end, in countries where demand for cheap labour or sexual services makes it possible for traffickers to treat human beings as merchandise.”
The conference was organised around four main themes:
Ř prevention among minorities at risk, with a special focus on the Roma communities;
Ř measures to discourage demand, including through private-public partnerships;
Ř role of research and data collection in the prevention of trafficking in human beings;
Ř alternative/interactive awareness-raising methods.
Participants shared experiences on various aspects of prevention of trafficking in human beings, with an emphasis on a comprehensive, human rights-based approach and international partnerships. The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the reports of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) provided a framework for the discussions.