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World Anti-Trafficking Day: protecting victims must be the top priority

"It is time to turn the spotlight on those hidden recesses where trafficking in human beings flourishes and take determined action against all forms of exploitation," said Gülsün Bilgehan (Turkey, SOC), Chair of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), speaking on the World Day against Trafficking in Persons (30 July 2015). "In particular I am thinking of the invisible victims, who do not ask for help because they themselves do not realise that they are victims".

"These individuals are not aware of their rights because they have been fed with false information either in their country of origin or in the destination country. They are often reluctant to approach the authorities, for fear of being obliged to leave our countries. Some of them believe that they do not need help, as some semblance of a roof over their heads and token payment is already more than they had in their country of origin."

"Protecting victims must be the top priority in action against trafficking in human beings, which calls for close police and judicial co-operation at international level and the support of legislators, experts, judges, police forces and intergovernmental organisations. Thanks to its approach geared to human rights and the protection of victims, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings provides added value in relation to the other international instruments in this field and should be signed, ratified and implemented by all those countries not yet having done so," she concluded.