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Combating human trafficking and disappearances of refugee children

The Council of Europe should “do more to combat human trafficking and to ensure that its legal standards are adequate and implemented by all member States”, the Assembly declared today during a joint debate.

In an adopted resolution, based on the report prepared by Vernon Coaker (United Kingdom, SOC), the Assembly noted with deep concern the high numbers of victims of human trafficking in Europe, “of which the largest proportion concerns the exploitation of the prostitution of others, forced labour and organ trafficking as well as trafficking for the purpose of forced marriage and illegal adoption”.

Preventing trafficking and providing protection to victims “must be of highest priority”, the parliamentarians said. For this purpose, member States should in particular ensure that victims of human trafficking are not penalised, that they receive adequate health services and legal assistance, and that witness protection programmes exist for their testimony against human traffickers.

During the same debate, the Assembly called on national parliaments and governments of the Member States to do "whatever is necessary and required in the best interests of the child" to avoid the disappearance of thousands of child refugees and migrants around the world.

While recalling that all Council of Europe member states are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and therefore must uphold the best interests of children as a primary consideration, the parliamentarians called on governments to ensure that reception conditions and care for child migrant and refugees fulfil the basic rights and needs of these people.

The adopted text, based on the report prepared by Serap Yaşar (Turkey, NR), underlines that "on no account should children be placed in detention" and refugee and migrant children should be “accommodated as far as possible with their families". International cooperation between the police and the judicial authorities should be strengthened to prevent their disappearance, and civil society organizations helping to find them should be supported in their work.