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European Anti-Trafficking Day: the crucial role of legislators in preventing and combating trafficking in human beings

The theme of migration and asylum in the election campaign and the consequences on the welcoming and rights of migrants

On the eve of European Anti-trafficking Day (18 October), Theodoros Rousopoulos (Greece, EPP/CD), Chairperson of PACE’s Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons made the following statement:

“As we mark the 15th anniversary of the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, legislators have an essential role in monitoring the progress made by member states in implementing the Convention and ensuring that sanctions but also prevention mechanisms are in place to tackle this horrendous crime.

The crime of trafficking in human beings does not necessarily involve the crossing of borders. However, as underlined in a number of reports by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), men, women and children on the move, including people in need of international protection, are particularly exposed to the risk of exploitation due to their travelling, living and working conditions, which are often precarious.

The lack of safe migration channels, limited awareness of their human rights, de facto situations of deprivation of liberty or limited freedom of movement – especially in the working environment – and lack of access to support networks, including social or legal counsellors, are all factors that contribute to their vulnerability.

As Simon Russell (United Kingdom, EC/DA), Vice-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings, has emphasised, ‘the role of GRETA is essential in supporting States parties to the Convention to assess their legislation and to find solutions that are centred on victims and their rights in order to live up to the ambition of this core document’.

Over the past year, the adoption of the Reykjavik Declaration at the Fourth Summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government in May 2023, and of the Recommendation on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation by the Committee of Ministers in September 2022, are clear markers that pan-European co-operation remains of the highest importance to effectively address and stop trafficking in human beings.

To this end, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, including through the work of its Sub-Committee on Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings, is fully committed to enhancing parliamentary oversight over such commitments.

In December 2023 the committee will consider a report by Diana Stoica (Romania, ALDE) on ‘Precarious and irregular work situations of migrant seasonal workers and domestic migrant workers’ for adoption.”