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2022 Assembly

 

Report from the Sixth EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels

 

9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015

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EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Persons, 21 October 2015

9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015

High Level Conference Marking the 9thEU Anti-Trafficking Day, 18 October

Organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of European Union, the conference took place in Brussels on the 20th of October, 2015. The Mary Ward Loreto Foundation was invited to attend as an active participant of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings (THB).
The theme, “Time for concrete actions: Implementing the Legal and Policy Framework on Trafficking in Human beings” and  aim of the conference was to develop a policy for the implementation of the EU legal framework and policies addressing trafficking in Human Beings. The Conference marks the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, instituted on 18th of October, 2007 with a view to highlighting the EU common commitment to eradicating trafficking in human persons.
Two important components of the Conference were:
– Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements & Keynote Address
– High Level Panel, Interactive Discussion.
Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements and Keynote Address
Ms. Myria Vassilidou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, European Commission,   introduced1 the meeting and welcomed the 200+ participants, the representatives of the EU Parliament, the EU Commissioners, Ministers, Europol, Eurojust and Civil Society. She explained that the main priorities common to the European Union and the European Commission are: “Following the money and reducing demand for trafficking in Human Beings in all forms of exploitation”.
These important issues will be the subject of the two interactive discussions of the honourable panellists listed in the Appendix.  After the introduction Ms. Vassilidou concluded by saying that: “States are strong, and they can protect and defend themselves, but individuals, especially those exploited, are not as strong and it is our duty to protect them.”
(…) Full text available at the end of this post.
 

The EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings

This event was organized on the 21st of October, 2015, comprising three parallel workshops. The NGO representatives were divided into three groups to discuss a special topic, after which they presented and shared their thoughts on the issue to the collective audience.
Workshop 1. Children as high risk group of trafficking
The members of this group focused mainly on unaccompanied children as well as on the child refugee crisis. The group shared their concerns for the fake ‘adoption’ of children and for children involved in forced labour and domestic servitude. Another concern highlighted by this group was the recruitment of children in armed conflicts and child trafficking for exploitation in forced criminal activities.
Worksop 2. Emerging Concerns
The second group focused on the current Syrian refugee crisis, which is leading to an increased risk of people being exploited and trafficked. They recommended a greater awareness about this issue and called on more people to become involved in preventing exploitation at a national level, when the refugees are being assisted in transitory or residential camps.
Also another emerging concern raised by this group was the sham of forced marriages which leads to different forms of exploitation, especially in domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
Workshop 3. Prevention of trafficking in Human Beings
The third group focused on demand, reduction and prevention initiatives. The MWL Youth Manager was a member of this group and made a presentation at the group session.
They [who?] The group commenced by reflecting upon Article 18.48 of the EU Directive: “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.” This article criminalises the use of services by each citizen who knows that the person who offers the services is a victim of trafficking. In this context ‘’following the buyers’’ was thought as a prevention initiative which would lead to identifying the victims. While the conviction of buyers can reduce demand, it is very difficult to prove that the buyer is aware that he/she is purchasing services from a victim of trafficking. It was felt that the key to success is to work locally in order to change the mentality of our governments and our judiciary and then start lobbying at a European level.
Another suggested action regarding prevention was to ensure that there is a legal requirement for businesses to state publicly their policy against Trafficking in Human Beings and show that their supply chain is free from exploitation.
At the end of the group session, it was decided to discuss the topics relating to each form of exploitation and to identify concrete ideas to be implemented to prevent trafficking. The group was subdivided into smaller groups who will continue to work on it by means of the e-Platform.
Outcomes of the Event   
It was both a good opportunity and experience to attend these very important meetings. It has been a meaningful exchange on best practices. It was so positive to participate and contribute to meetings where the highest institutions of the EU commit to eradicating trafficking in human beings.
Ten contacts were established and more than thirty MWL leaflets were distributed in the Market Place.

Prepared by Gazmir Memaj, Project Manager, Mary Ward Loreto Youth

Full text available here: Report from the Sixth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings, October 2015

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

Report from the Fourth EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels

 

Fourth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform in Brussels, 21-22 October 2014
Fourth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform in Brussels, 21-22 Oct. 2014

Fourth meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings 21 and 22 October 2014, Brussels

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 and Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Ukraine, working at the European and International level.

At the beginning NREMs (National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms) from five member states: Italy, Bulgaria, France, Ireland and Latvia presented themselves, their work, and the cooperation with and role of civil society organisations in their countries.

 

First day, 21 October 2014

Joint Meeting of the Informal Network of NREMs with the EU Civil Society Platform

After this there was time for networking and bilateral meetings. The NREMs and participants of the Platform discussed issues of joint concern. For the non EU-member states this networking was not possible, because their national coordinators against human trafficking were not invited. The International Federation of the Red Cross was present to share best practices with organisations from third countries.

The last three reports from the EU Commission were made public and mainly the civil society recommendations for the next EU Commission Strategy after 2016 were prepared. These reports can be found here:

  1. The Commission presented the Midterm Report, covering the period June 2012 – 3rd quarter 2014, which refers to various deliverables of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 (the EU Strategy) as well as the policy and legal context in which it is being implemented.

http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/trafficking_en_swd_part1_v2.pdf

  1. the Commission presented the Second Eurostat Report on THB, which includes statistical data from all MS, plus ME, NO, RS, CH, and TR. But we have to be aware, that there are indications to believe that the actual number of victims is much higher than the one recorded

http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/thb_wp2013-2014_final_161014.pdf

  1. the Commission presented the Report on the application of Directive 2004/81/EC on residence permits to non-EU victims of THB, who cooperate with authorities. This directive could be used more, only half the number of permits given than registered victims.

http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/trafficking_en_act_part1_v6.pdf
 

Second day, 22 October 2014

Parallel Workshops

The participants split into three workshops to discuss and draft recommendations.

 

Workshop I

Early identification of victims of THB
The main objective of this workshop was to discuss the full implementation of EU legal and policy framework on the identification of victims.
 
Workshop II
Assistance to and protection of victims of THB
The participants were asked to focus on the full implementation of the EU legal and policy framework in the area of assistance and protection to victims of THB.
 
Workshop III
Ensuring demand reduction
The participants were asked to focus on the full implementation of the EU legal and policy framework in the area of demand reduction.
According to article 18.4 Member States are obliged to consider criminalizing those who knowingly use services of victims of trafficking. Further, article 23 requests that in 2016 the Commission will produce a report assessing the legal measures some Member States have taken to criminalise the use of services of victims of trafficking in human beings and if necessary proposing further action.
The participants were asked to focus their discussions on this issue.
 
Report written by Sr. Mirjam Beike RGS

Report from the Third EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels

 

Third Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform in Brussels, 7-8 May 2014
Third Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform in Brussels, 7-8 May 2014

The EU Civil Society Platform met for the third time on May 7th and 8th. This time the platform started with a Joint Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform with the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREMs). The National Rapporteurs are responsible for monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policy at the national level and play a key role in data collection on trafficking in human beings at national and EU level. The first and main focus was on the implementation of Article 19 of the Directive 2011/36/EU. There was also a time to get in contact and discuss common issues. At the end of the day there was a discussion and recommendation for a follow up meeting.
The EU wants a victim-centred approach: It is important to get testimonies of the victims of human trafficking in order to sentence the perpetrators. Video testimonies can be helpful as this helps the victim to avoid a re-traumatisation. Law enforcement has been difficult. Traffickers and their companies will be pursued. The demand is expected to be throttled, we want to criminalize the clients of victims of human trafficing. It can not be, that somebody who profits knowingly from a victim of human trafficking is not at risk to be punished. Some countries have prohibited prostitution, because most sex workers are victims of trafficking. An EU Business coalition was launched to improve the awareness for zero tolerance for the use of persons living and working in slave-like conditions. For example the group was encouraged to avoid buying products, which had been made under slave conditions, by victims of human traffikcing. There has to be an education for human rights in schools. Also cinemas and theaters should be used to raise this awareness. There have to be shelters for victims.
Representatives from Portugal, Croatia , Germany and Romania gave explanations as to how the reporting mechanisms in their countries function.
One phenomena is actually that the number of sentenced perpetrators has decreased, while the number of victims has increased. This does not mean that the prosecution is less effective, but that the possibilities to spot a victim are better. We know that there are more victims, as the collected datas show. We have to improve the collection of our data.
 
The next day, 8th of May, after a short evaluation of the joint meeting, there were three parallel workshops:
Working Group I (identification)
Discussion Points:
1. Which elements should be included in the EU reporting on Article 11 par. 4 of Directive
2011/36/EU (identification as part of the national referral mechanisms, exchange of best
practices on effective measures taken at national level to early identify victims,  the
multidisciplinary approach, need for guidelines/common indicators?)
2. How could the civil society contribute to reporting on identification as per Article 11 par. 4 of
the Directive (cooperation between civil society and law enforcement, education, training on
identification, awareness raising?)
Answers:
The disussion in this workshop came to the conclusion that it would be better if the NGOs produced supplementary reports, and after the report from the member state has been given. The NGOs could add information, the NGOs could also work in groups for their supplementary reports and they could use the e-platform, which will be launched in June, to work together in producing these reports. Until now we have no example for such a work, as it is the first time that the civil society is included in such reporting.
 
Working Group II (assistance and protection)
Discussion Points:
1. Which elements should be included in EU reporting on Articles 11-12 of Directive
2011/36/EU (assistance and protection including protection in criminal investigations and
proceedings) and Article 13 -16 (Special provisions on assistance and protection to child
victims)?
2. How could the civil society contribute to reporting on these Articles?
Answers:
Human trafficking can not only be fought in identifying victims or in migration policies. The NGOs are involved in the process of identifying victims of human trafficking. This involvement needs to be implemented officially, until now it is done but not implemented as it should be. The NGOs could produce an additional report or a shadow report. Our report should be given after the official report is done, to higlight discrepancies between the member state report and the NGOs reports, for example recording the number of victims. The NGOs not only want to give data but also reflect on the process of identifiying a victim and the way of dencouncing and sentencing.
 
Working Group III (demand)
Discussion Points:
1. Which elements should be included in EU reporting on Article 18 Directive 2011/36/EU
(Prevention)?
2. How could the civil society contribute to reporting on Article 18 (Prevention) (education,
training, internet, awareness raising campaigns, research, criminalisation of use of victims of
trafficking)?
Answers:
All forms of trafficking have to be mentioned in the reports. There has also to be reported how much funds the member states give to support the NGOs and the fight against human trafficking. Some forms of forced marriage are not recognized as a form of trafficking, this has to be clarified. Who has the profit, and how has the demand risen? This would be the way to decrease the demand. There are some states that have also profited from the exploitation of victims of human trafficking and they are increasing the demand. There has to be reporting about the trafficking from men also. The NGOs should report after the member state reports in order to add things and to produce shadow reports or reports in which they also give their experience about what is helping to combat the demand and what is not helping in this work.
 
Report written by Sr. Mirjam Beike RGS
 

Report from the EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels

 

EU Commission at the Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels, 9-10 Dec. 2013
EU Commission at the Civil Society Platform Meeting Brussels, 9-10 Dec. 2013

EU Civil Society Platform was officially launched on the 31 May 2013 in Brussels. Civil society organisations from EU Member States, working against trafficking in human beings, were invited to apply for participation. Applications were examined by the European Commission ensuring a maximum number of participants with a geographical balance to include all Member States if possible and taking into account a diversity of areas of expertise and type of organisation in order to allow the EU to understand, with a comprehensive approach, the reality which could effect the EU policy. A hundred organisations were represented in the first meeting of the Platform.
The second meeting of this Platform was scheduled for 9-10 December 2013. Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, welcomed new representatives from four non-EU Members States such as Albania, Turkey, Ukraine and Morocco. The aim of this meeting was to update participants with the recent developments of the European Commission and to present an outline of the Online Platform, and to discuss in the light of this information as a basis for assessing and further improving the policy.  The representatives also participated in workshops on topics suggested earlier by Members of the Platform. The three areas of discussion were:

  • Involvement of the Civil Society in the Implementation of the Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Victims-Centred Approach: Identification, Assistance and Protection, National Referral Mechanisms
  • Demand Reduction

There was an introduction to each working group done respectively by the speakers who participate in the meetings of the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREM): Venla Roth – NREM Finland, Patricia Le Cocq – NREM Belgium, Romulus Nicolae Ungureanu – NREM Romania.
Full description of the workshops is available here.

Cecilia-Malmström-EU-Commissioner-for-Home-Affairs
Cecilia Malmström, EU-Commissioner for Home Affairs

All participants were invited to the networking dinner at the hotel. It was very kind of Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, to express her interest and give attention to the work being done by the Civil Society Organisations. She stressed that the phenomenon of Human Trafficking is now more and more recognised even among youth. Having received many school/college groups she said that all had raised questions about Human Trafficking. This is a sign of a growing awareness consequent to many raising activities being undertaken by many stakeholders working in the field.
All groups had good discussions which brought many points for consideration and suggestions for future actions. Among the most important, there were:
GROUP No. 1.

  1. Involving civil society is fundamental for the fight against HT. It is good to have diverse ngos as members of the Platform.
  2. It is important to raise awareness of the Directive within society using the media to explain the role of the document.
  3. Directives should have a direct effect. However the experience shows that some countries who have been informed about transposition of the Directive have not really implemented it.
  4. Provisions and actions of the civil society to enable them to work and to prioritise for the benefit of the victims: non-punishment, access to assistance, right to protection, right to compensation, protection from the secondary victimisation.
  5. Shadow reporting from the different stakeholders working in the field of anti-trafficking would help the European Commission to see progress made on the implementation of the Directive. Full transparency is very important to get a real picture of the situation.
  6. Stress on prevention – important to use education.

GROUP No. 2.

  1. There is a lack of formalisation of the role of the ngos in the recognition of the victims of HT.
  2. Emphasis should be put on collecting evidence from the victims. Some victims are excluded from being identified.
  3. Promoting victim’s rights on the website banners.
  4. Address the lack of protection resulting from free movement.
  5. Need of training among social workers.
  6. Internal trafficking is on the rise. More victims of labour trafficking noticed.
  7. Mapping of ngos and services and what they provide would be helpful.
  8. Promoting new models of guardianship.

GROUP No. 3.

  1. Big challenge for many ngos is the issue of funding. EU funds are a chance for many but hard to access and manage (example of an ngo which had to close down).
  2. Different forms of trafficking – different groups of interests.
  3. Exit programme for labour exploitation.
  4. Problem of domestic servitude.
  5. The same demand for prostitution is equated with the same demand which results in sexual exploitation.
  6. Gender dimension when speaking about demand.
  7. Postulate to penalise/criminalise the demand on the EU level (directive) and harmonise regulations.
  8. Human Trafficking is the only violiation of Human Rights with money behind it.

 

Work in Groups, Brussels, 9-10 Dec. 2013
Work in Groups, Brussels, 9-10 Dec. 2013

Concluding the Second Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform, Myria Vassiliadou led our attention to the day of our meeting, 10th of December which is Human Rights Day. We observed one minute of silence for all those for whom we work, victims of present-day slavery. She thanked all participants for their presence, work on the topics and reminded about the coming challenge for the EU Member States which are obliged to measure reduction of the demand.
Full report from this meeting will be public and available on the EU Civil Society Platform website.
Leaflets showing variety of participants
Leaflets showing variety of participants