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Brussels, 17 October 2008

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Preventing and combating human trafficking: the Commission calls for extraordinary effort by the EU and Member States in 2009

The second EU Anti-trafficking day will take place tomorrow. On this occasion, the European Commission approves an evaluation of the implementation of the EU Action Plan to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings. The Commission concludes that the EU has developed a dynamic process of approximation of legislation, both in the fields of criminal law and victims' support. However, there is still a serious gap between legislation and implementation.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, stated: "Although the Commission, the Council and Member States have been active in the field of anti-trafficking policy, the factual situation shows substantial weaknesses. Figures concerning criminal proceedings are not high enough. Trafficking is still a high profit and low risk crime. As to victims' assistance and protection, only a few countries have adopted policies that can be considered a real response to the estimated scale of the criminal phenomenon, meaning hundred thousands people trafficked in Europe every year".

"We are aware that trafficking victims are often the most vulnerable, be third country or EU nationals. Very often they are children exploited in prostitution, labour, servitude, begging, illicit activities. To protect their fundamental rights is an absolute imperative, and is also in the interest of justice" said Vice-President Barrot. "Trafficking victims, once they are supported and protected, are an important source of evidence and very helpful in combating the crime. We are therefore preparing the revision of our framework decisions on the treating of human beings and on the sexual exploitation of children: the key advances introduces could be installed by a non-punishment clause for trafficking victims who violated immigration rules or by the introduction of measures that enforce investigation capacities as well as victim support.

The Commission calls on the EU and Member States to make an extra push in 2009, and commit themselves to implement a few anti-trafficking key-actions indicated in the Commission Working Document "Evaluation and monitoring of the implementation of the EU Plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing trafficking in human beings", adopted today. At the end of next year the Commission will assess if there is substantial improvement and will establish a new strategy for the future The Commission is preparing the revision of the Framework Decision on trafficking and will submit a proposal in March 2009.

The Commission is also determined to join efforts with other international organisations: a joint initiative with ILO to improve methods for the production of statistics and assessments is being developed and the synergy with the OSCE Special Representative against trafficking in human beings on the same issue is proving effective.

The Commission Working Document is based on the replies to a questionnaire circulated by the Commission in December 2007, received from 23 Member States and Norway. The Document also takes into account information transmitted by EU bodies such as EUROPOL and EUROJUST.

In 2007 the Anti-Trafficking Day was established on 18 October every year, following a recommendation of the European Parliament, and a proposal of the Commission. In 2007 the first EU Anti-Trafficking Day a Conference was held in Brussels, focussed on victims' identification and assistance. In 2008 various actions has been taken by different stakeholders. The Secours Catholique and the Caritas network organise a conference in Paris on 16 October, under the auspices of the French Presidency and the European Commission, in the presence of Vice-president Jacques Barrot (SPEECH/08/539).

Other meetings will take place in Belgium, organised by the European Women's Lobby, and the Centre for equal opportunities together with the Samilia Foundation.

For more information on the activities of Vice-President Barrot, please see:

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