“Cooperation across all levels of government is vital in ensuring a comprehensive approach to trafficking,” stressed Congress rapporteur on women and child refugees Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG), during the 31st Meeting of the Committee of the Parties of the Council of Europe Convention in Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings on 25 November 2022, reminding that “countries often develop their strategies at the national level, but local and regional authorities are the closest to ensuring their effective implementation as the first line of defence against human trafficking”.
“Our closeness to communities and our role as providers of key services means that we are well-placed to prevent trafficking and support victims. Involving us and incorporating our experience is crucial at every stage of the fight against human trafficking”, she continued.
She emphasised the support Congress provides for cities and regions in this fight, particularly in the context of the arrival of refugees. The Congress report on ‘Reception of women and children refugees in Europe’s cities and regions’, adopted in October 2022, includes best practices from a variety of countries about how cities and regions can help combat human trafficking and protect vulnerable persons.
The Congress Rapporteur urged national authorities to consult with their country’s mayors, city councillors and regional representatives. “We need to all work together towards the elimination of exploitation and trafficking of vulnerable refugees, in particular women and children,” Annika Vaikla concluded.