Action against Trafficking in Human Beings

Sixth European Anti-Human Trafficking Day

“We will never win the war against human trafficking if we fail to empower victims.”

In Brussels today to speak at a conference organised by the Cyprus Presidency and the European Commission to mark the Sixth EU Anti-Trafficking Day, Mr Nicolas Le Coz, President of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), declared: “The fight against trafficking in human beings continues to be slowed down by persisting prejudices and misconceptions. There cannot be effective prevention of human trafficking without education, empowerment and anti-discrimination measures.”

The President of GRETA recalled that the construction of a system to fight human trafficking should follow a human rights-based and victim-centred approach. He noted that in certain countries, the identification of victims of trafficking is primarily done from a law enforcement or irregular migration perspective, without the involvement of multidisciplinary expertise. Many victims remain undetected and unassisted. "We will never win the war against human trafficking if we fail to empower the victims," he said. Mr Le Coz also stressed the need to improve co-ordination between all stakeholders and to step up proactive investigations.

“It is urgent that all EU Member States, and the Union itself, ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, as it provides a pan-European framework for co-operation between countries of destination, transit and origin and also enables country-by-country monitoring,” stressed the President of GRETA. “It is also crucial that different international bodies – including the EU, the OSCE and the Council of Europe – continue to work together to combat human trafficking so as to avoid the emergence of conflicting standards and duplication of efforts.”

The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was opened for signature in 2005 and is currently ratified by 37 States. Of the 27 EU Member States, Estonia, Germany, Greece and Hungary have yet to ratify the Convention, and the Czech Republic is yet to sign it.