Modern slavery, sexual exploitation, recruitment of child soldiers – trafficking in human beings has a lot of different appearances. We do not know exactly how many people are victim of this crime. But according to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons of UNODC, 70 percent of the detected victims are women, most of which suffer from sexual exploitation. According to the recently published Global Slavery Index an estimated 45,8 million people worldwide are in some form of modern slavery.
„Trafficking in human beings constitutes one of the worst forms of human rights abuses, as it reduces human beings to commodities“, human rights spokesperson Barbara Lochbihler of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament and Vice-President of the Committee on Human Rights sums up. She wrote a report about the fight against trafficking in human beings in the EU’s external relations. The report was voted on 5 July in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The report calls on the EU and its Member States to have a human rights-based and victim-centred approach and to place victims and vulnerable populations at the centre of all efforts. „We have to ensure that victims are not re-victimized or criminalised for acts committed in the context of their exploitation”, said Barbara Lochbihler. To hold perpetrators to account, it would be necessary to guarantee that victims are safe. Barbara Lochbihler: „No one will testify against his perpetrator, if one has to fear deportation or prison. The support for victims should be independent of their willingness to cooperate in criminal proceedings“.
Barbara Lochbihler also urges to disrupt the flow of illegal money: “To stop money laundering activities, there must be better control of banks and companies and financial investigations need to play a much bigger role”. We have to also ensure the criminal prosecution of corporations which are involved in forced labour along their entire supply chain.
A critical distinction needs to be made between trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling. The concepts require different legal and practical responses. Trafficking in human beings should not be addressed under a security perspective, as this also means that victims do not get adequate support and protection but are instead criminalised. Uprooted people are particularly vulnerable to become victims of trafficking in human beings, such as refugees and particularly vulnerable people like minors. „We need special training for officials to identify these victims“, says Barbara Lochbihler.