Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trafficking Passes Drugs in Europe

Human Trafficking in Europe Outweighs Drug Smuggling, says Report
By Ekaterina Popova and Ivailo Anguelov
Epoch Times Staff Apr 13, 2009 

The current scale of human trafficking outweighs the smuggling and spreading of drugs, according to a recent report by the European Commission (EC). The Commission is the executive branch of the European Union (EU).

1.2 million people globally become victims of human trafficking every year, according to estimates provided by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Most of the victims are women and children used for cheap labor and sexual services by organized multinational criminal groups, warns the EC.

The report also says that well-organized criminal conglomerates generate great profit from human trafficking and develop money-laundering schemes. The number of these criminal groups has mushroomed in the past several years. In response, the EC called on the countries in Europe to make tougher laws to tackle the illegal trafficking of people across their borders.
Tougher Laws by the EU

Last month, the EC adopted new proposals to strengthen the efforts to fight against human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children.

The new proposals intend to update the current statutes and bring them to the highest European standards. They will provide better protection and care for victims, and stricter sanctions against trafficking.

Prosecuting criminals, protecting victims, and preventing offenses are the three areas that EU member states will be obliged to act upon and translate into national legislations if the proposals are approved.

As stated in the proposals, criminal offenders being brought to justice even if the crimes are committed abroad will be emphasized. Police will be allowed to use similar tools and techniques as used against organized criminals, such as phone-tapping and eavesdropping.

Accommodations and medical care will become standard aid for victims. Police protections will be provided, if necessary, to help the victims recover from their ordeal, make them feel safer, and eliminate fear of testifying against their perpetrators in court, essential for successful legal proceedings. For the purpose of claiming financial compensation and punitive damages, victims will be entitled to free legal representation.

The proposals further encourage member states to scrutinize the clients who buy the sexual services of victims. Such clients may be sanctioned under new laws, as well as the employers who exploit trafficked people. Independent bodies will be put in place to monitor the implementation and development of these actions.

“We want to build an EU that is truly able to protect the most vulnerable citizens against the most terrible crimes,” said the Vice President of the EC responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, Jacques Barrot in a statement. “Our message is clear. These crimes which know no borders are unacceptable. Europe will continue to set the highest and most ambitious standards in fighting them.”

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