2022 Assembly


Report from the Fifth EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels


EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings
On the 5th April 2011 Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council was set up, to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings to protect its victims. This Directive establishes minimum rules in the European Union (EU) level concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of trafficking in human beings. It also provides measures aimed at better prevention of this phenomenon, and at improving the protection of victims.
At the local, national, regional and international level, many organizations, NGOs, governmental organizations and groups, work to combat trafficking from various angles and disciplines, often in a non-coordinated way. Effective and efficient efforts to combat trafficking need a coherent multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary approach. The strengthening of the network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms is an essential part of such an approach at the EU level.
The establishment of the rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms in line with Article 19 of the EU Directive is crucial for such coherence at national levels and is therefore an important obligation for Member States.
To further adjust activities and facilitate cooperation an EU Civil Society Platform against THB was established in May 2013, which is to meet twice a year. Over 100 organizations participate in the platform.
Cecilia MalmströmOn 31st May 2013, Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Home Affairs, announced during a press conference the launch of the new EU Civil Society Platform against trafficking in human beings, where over 100 European civil society organizations are joining forces. The Europe-wide Platform, started to serve as a forum for civil society organizations working at European, national and local levels, in the field of human rights, children’s rights, women’s rights and gender equality, migrants’ rights and shelters. Participants are able to exchange experiences and concretise ideas on how to best assist victims, expand their networks, and prevent others from falling victims to this crime.
This platform is supplemented with an EU Civil Society e-Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings. In May 2014 the Commission organized a joint meeting for the Civil Society Platform and the National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms.
Since the second meeting, four neighbouring priority countries (Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Ukraine), working at the European and International level, were invited to the EU Platform, and since this time Sr. Mirjam Beike RGS attended on behalf of RENATE and MWL.
EU Civil Society Platform MeetingThe Second Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings gathered representatives of 98 civil society organizations from 27 Member States and four non-EU countries, and of NGOs working at the European and international level. After a Commission presentation on the latest developments related to trafficking in human beings at the EU level, the participants split into three working groups to discuss:

  • The involvement of civil society in the implementation of the Directive 2011/36/EU
  • The victims-centred approach stipulated in the Directive and
  • Demand reduction.

The Third Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings took place in Brussels on 7-8 May 2014, and gathered representatives from over one-hundred civil society organisations from EU Member States and four neighbouring priority countries, working at the European and international level. The first day of the meeting was an occasion for NGOs participating in the Platform to meet with the representatives of the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms. On the second day of the meeting the importance of discussing the concrete proposals for the contribution of NGOs to the reporting processes as per Articles 19-20 of the THB Directive was stressed.
The Fourth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings took place in Brussels on 21-22 October 2014, and gathered representatives from 92 civil society organisations from EU Member States (MS) and four neighbouring priority countries (Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Ukraine), working at the European and International level. The first day of the meeting was the second occasion for NGOs participating in the Platform to meet with the representatives of the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREMs). On the second day, 22 October 2014 three parallel Workshops took place:

  • Workshop I – Early identification of victims of THG
  • Workshop II – Assistance to and protection of victims of THB
  • Workshop II – Ensuring demand reduction.

The Fifth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings took place in Brussels on 21-22 May 2015. The main focus this time were three workshops, where the members could report about their experience in the member states according to the following topics. This was very interesting and fruitful, because a whole picture of Europe was exposed and the priority countries (Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Ukraine) also shared their experiences and were open to questions and discussion about their various challenges in the field.

  • Workshop 1: Children as high risk group of trafficking
  • Workshop 2: Emerging concerns (sham marriages, forced criminality, trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal vs. organ trafficking)
  • Workshop 3: Prevention of trafficking in human beings.

RENATE Members with EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou (second from right) and Katarzyna Cuadrat-Grzybowska (second from left)
RENATE Members with EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou (second from right) and Katarzyna Cuadrat-Grzybowska (second from left)

Short evaluation for the four meetings with participation of RENATE/MWL
Main objectives of this Platform: to be a forum for the civil society organizations to engage at the EU level, to facilitate partnerships and synergies between actors, to inform on the implementation of the EU Strategy, and for the European Commission, to be better informed about the challenges civil society organizations face.
Achievement of these objectives:
Sr Mirjam distributed the leaflets and brochures from MWL at the conference and made some contacts. A real co-working has not started because the services of the institutions at the EU Platform are specific to their country. RENATE is a network of networks and so we are there under the umbrella of MWL. Mirjam also distributed information about the shelter in Albania managed by Different and Equal (D&E).
To hear about the EU Strategy was very interesting. Albania is not a member state of the EU, so when the members of the National Referral Mechanism were invited, twice, it did not make such a big sense for a country such as Albania to be present as Albania was not yet subject to EU Policy.
What was most useful was to give actual information about the situation in Albania to the working groups. This is something that was also interesting for other countries. There was a good co-working with a representative from Greece, this representative is a native of Albania, so we could give some information about trafficking and the cross border trafficking. Living two years at the border of Greece, meant that this topic was shared with good information.
Report written by Sr. Mirjam Beike RGS

EU Foreign Ministers' Plans to Establish a Naval Force to Combat People Smugglers


Federica MogheriniEU Foreign Ministers on 18 May 2015 approve plans to establish a naval force to combat people smugglers operating from Libya.
The European Union is struggling to cope with the tens of thousands of illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East, crossing the Mediterranean Sea for the safety of Europe. RENATE supports the rehabilitation of these desperate migrants, uniting with Pope Francis, calling for safe passage and refuge for them.
So far this year, the United Nations estimates that as many as 60,000 have tried to make the dangerous crossing, often facilitated by traffickers as they flee conflict or dire poverty in  Syria, Nigeria, Somalia and Eritrea. Many pay their traffickers as they travel in unseaworthy boats, risking their lives for safety and better life.
The Mediterranean naval mission is due to commence in June 2015, with the aim to disrupt the smugglers. It also aims to ensure each EU State adopts a national quota (18% Germany; 14%; 12% Italy; 9% Spain. UK has refused any quota) in order to accept the migrants, thereby easing the pressure on Italy, Greece and Malta.
EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini (pictured) called the approval of the plans “an absolute record” and is hopeful that member states will cooperate in order to finally put an end to the business model of the traffickers.
To read more:
Adapted and prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

RENATE Training on Intervention and Integration of Victims of Trafficking, Spain


A RENATE Training on The Intervention & Integration of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings for the members has now been organized and will take place in Madrid, Spain, from Sunday, 31st May – till Friday, 5th June 2015. We expect 33 participants from twelve European countries.
Outline of RENATE Training in Spain
Speakers: Mrs. Helena Maleno Garzón, Sr. Marta González Manchon, Mrs. Angela Sánchez-Barbudo Virgil-Escalera, Mr. Antonio Rivas, Mr. Elvis Popaj. All trainers are experts in their field.

The Norwegian Debate on the Sex Buying Act (in force since January 2009)


Broken chain
Professor Janne Haaland Matlary, Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, presented a paper entitled A ‘Liberal Profession’? The Norwegians Debate on the “Sex Buying Act” to Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) at Casina Pio IV, Vatican City, April 17th-21st, 2015.
Professor Matlary’s paper gives a comprehensive insight into the impact of the Sex Buying Act (SBA) legally in force in Norway since January 2009. Intending to reduce the demand for sex and to help women find alternative work and a better quality of life, the Act also aimed to prevent human trafficking and to change attitudes towards prostitution.
A recent evaluation of the Act reports a reduction in both demand and supply on the street by as much as 40-65%. Research has found that because of the Act, it is now much more difficult for traffickers and pimps to work in Norway, as both are criminal activities. Another significant research finding concerns attitudinal change in young men against the buying of sex.
RENATE values any research or legislated acts which indicate or lead to the reduction in demand for any form of trafficking and exploitation in human persons.
To read the full text of Professor Matlary’s paper:
Adapted and prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences Plenary Session 17-21 April 2015


Pope Francis“The light of the Gospel is a guide for anyone who is at the service of the civilisation of love, where the Beatitudes have a social resonance and where there is a real inclusion of the lowliest.” Pope Francis
Thus spoke Pope Francis to delegates at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) at their 17th-21st April, 2015 meeting to consider the theme of Human Trafficking: Issues beyond Criminalization.
The meeting considered human trafficking as a crime against humanity and raised challenging questions about repatriation; the necessity for improved assistance and support to victims of human trafficking and what is being done to stop the national and multi-national demands for exploited labour and sexual exploitation.
RENATE Conference will conduct a training programme on the issue of repatriation when it meets in Madrid in June, 2015.
For full information and final recommendations arising from the PASS meeting:
Adapted and prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

World Communications Day 17 May 2015 Communicating the Family


Pope Francis and familiesThe 49th World Communications Day was celebrated on Sunday, the 17th of May, 2015 –the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord and the Sunday before Pentecost.
The World Day for Social Communications was the only worldwide celebration called for by the second Vatican Council (Inter Mirifica, 1963). Pope Francis chose as this year’s theme; “Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love.”
In his message to the world, Pope Francis referred to Evangelii Gaudium 66, in stating “…the family is ‘where we learn to live with others despite our differences.” He spoke of the family as a community in which we all learn to communicate and to celebrate life.
Pope Francis spoke about making use of modern technology to our advantage, as a means to “…share stories, to stay in contact with distant friends, to thank others or to seek their forgiveness and to open the door to new encounters.”
RENATE Network, as a European ‘family’ of diverse countries, cultures and customs, shares the Gospel values in its effort to ‘free the oppressed’ from human trafficking and exploitation.
For the full text of the Pope’s address:
Adapted and prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

Tribute to the Late Maura O'Donohue MMM


Earlier this month, our dear colleague Maura O’Donohue, MMM, passed away after a lifetime’s work with those most in need. Her life’s work centred on the message of the Gospels, ‘rooted and founded on love.’  We especially valued the contributions which Maura made to RENATE during her latter years. Sr. Isabelle Smyth, her dear friend and sister in the congregation, a member of RENATE, shares with us her tribute to Maura.
Maura O'Donohue

In 2003, when she reached what would be the age of retirement for many people, she asked the Medical Missionaries of Mary to assign her to the work of raising awareness about the problem of human trafficking. She had come face to face with the situation in the course of her work in places like Thailand, the Philippines and several countries of Africa.
She was one of the founding members of APT in 2005, and represented APT on the Round Table of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit at the Irish Government’s Department of Justice. She was an early member of COATNET, the Europe-wide ecumenical network against trafficking in persons. She travelled extensively meeting survivors and sharing insights with those who worked to prevent trafficking on several continents.
She addressed international meetings on the issue, attended sessions of the UN at Geneva, spoke to religious leaders and persuaded influential media people to write on the topic – in fact she never lost an opportunity to make people aware of this evil in our world today.
Those who worked in team with her over the years speak of her as an amazing colleague, a quiet person who was full of warmth and passion. With clear vision she pursued each objective against all odds. She is lovingly remembered as an inspiration, mentor and guide, a listener, a bringer of healing, help and hope. To her family, friends and colleagues she was a very special person and is greatly missed.
Her final illness, leukaemia, witnessed her deep awareness of God’s call to the fullness of life that awaits us all.
Isabelle Smyth, MMM

Gift Box Awareness Campaign Exhibits at JobExpo 2015 in Slovakia


JobExpo 2015 Nitra in Slovakia_1The fifth annual Slovakian JobExpo took place on the 29th & 30th of April 2015, at the Agrokomplex in Nitra. Around 140 exhibitors presented at the jobs fair and offered work to visitors.
This is the second year that the Slovak Catholic Charity participated and used the Expo as an awareness-raising opportunity using its Gift Box Campaign – People are not for sale.
Since exploitation and forced labour are some of the aspects of human trafficking, the job fair is a good opportunity to draw the attention of visitors to this dangerous phenomenon, in the belief that awareness raising is critically important as a preventative measure.JobExpo 2015 Nitra in Slovakia
The Fair was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Interior, who provide lectures for the general public, on the issue of trafficking as well as informative lectures for high school students.

Social Pathology Amongst Youth, Interdisciplinary Conference in Slovakia


Conference in Slovakia helps in Raising Awareness to Prevent Human Trafficking
On 23 April 2015, “Stop Human Trafficking” in Caritas Slovakia and local RENATE members actively contributed to the first interdisciplinary conference on socio-pathological concerns amongst children, youth and adults.
The conference entitled “Social Pathology Amongst Youth” / SPAY 2015 / organized by the College of Health and Social Work Vol. Elizabeth and Pan European University with the participation of representatives from the academic and scientific institutions from Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
The Conference programme explored seven specialized sections. Specific emphasis was given to the most problematic socio-pathological phenomena in our society among children and young people. The following aspects were considered:

  • Addiction
  • Bullying and cyberbullying
  • Harassment and abuse of refugees and migrants
  • Prostitution and human trafficking
  • Children’s problem behaviours such as truancy, delinquency, crime, violence and aggression

Sr. Bohdana Bezáková, CJ – member of RENATE – presented a workshop on the project entitled “Prevention of trafficking in Slovakia.” The film Two little girls was presented as part of the workshop to conference delegates. The presentation was followed by questions and discussions
Jana Urbanová and Miroslava Víglašská, Caritas Slovakia staff and members of RENATE, presented information materials at the Conference and also presented the film Two little girls with subtitles for those who were unable to attend the workshop.