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Statement on support for civil society organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic

Vienna, Austria 18 December 2020
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Statement on support for civil society organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic

On the occasion of International Human Solidarity Day (20 December), the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons' Expert Co-ordination Team (AECT) released a Statement, co-signed by 20 organisations involved in the AECT, including the Council of Europe, calling on states to increase their support to anti-trafficking civil society organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governments play a key role in promoting a conducive environment for civil society in national legislation, policies and practice, removing restrictions and taking measures to prevent attempts to hinder the work of human rights defenders. However, civil society organisations continue to face both legal, financial and practical challenges affecting their daily work.

The latest global challenge is that of the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses an amplified risk of trafficking in human beings due to increased vulnerabilities, changing modus operandi of traffickers, changing priorities or capacities of law enforcement, as well as reduced ability for service providers and other anti-trafficking stakeholders to do outreach and access victims of trafficking and other vulnerable people.

In the statement, the AECT calls upon States to enhance their efforts with regards to co-operation with anti-trafficking civil society organisaitons, in particular by providing them with long-term financial support to ensure the sustainability and digitalisation of their services, enabling their access to migration reception and detention facilities to allow for identification and referral of victims of trafficking, and facilitating their contacts and co-ordination with government institutions, including online.