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Opening of the session No. 8

Current affairs debate: Recent developments in Libya and in the Middle East: what consequences for Europe?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:39:54

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Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,

Let's open the session. I am a temporary chair of the meeting. They will come and that chair who is supposed to be here, so I'm helping a little bit because they were force majeure for Mr Andreas NICK. He will come soon.

We do have actually now the current affairs debate on the item "Recent developments in Libya and in the Middle East: what consequences for Europe?" That is the item. This sitting is an open one. And speaking time is limited for all members except the first speaker chosen by the Bureau, who is allowed 10 minutes under the rule 53.4.

The debate will end at 16:20 and in this debate I call now first Mr Piero FASSINO. You have now the 10 minutes, please. The floor is yours.

Mr Piero FASSINO

Italy, SOC 

15:41:07

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Thank you, Mr. President.

The Italian delegation asked for this urgent debate because the Mediterranean and the Middle East are affected by particularly important events. Of course, as some have objected, the Mediterranean and the Middle East do not belong to the area of the Council of Europe. But no one can ignore the fact that everything that happens on our doorstep, and the Mediterranean is on our doorstep, affects us and produces dynamics that directly affect us. One needs only to think about the flows of refugees and migrants, fleeing the conflicts in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, seeking security in Europe.

Moreover, in the past, our Assembly has dealt with this area by adopting numerous resolutions and recommendations. Finally, I would like to remind you that representatives from Morocco, Jordan, Palestine and Israel sit in our Assembly. And that the Political Committee has a sub-committee on the Middle East and the Arab world, which is currently meeting, and I believe that Mr Andreas NICK is not here because he is still chairing the sub-committee.

On the borders of Europe, lies a scenario of instability and conflict, from the Persian Gulf to Gibraltar and from Tripoli to Nairobi.

Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya are devastated by bloody civil wars. Other countries – Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan – live in a precarious balance between autocracies that have been in power for decades and vast civil movements demanding reforms.

The conflict between the United States and Iran has broken out again, and after the Baghdad raid, the Tehran authorities announced their intention to resume nuclear programmes. The clash between Shiites and Sunnis affects the entire region, destabilizes Iraq and sees Iran and Saudi Arabia at the head of opposing fronts.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, on opposite sides, are part of the Libyan crisis, increasingly a proxy war.

Israeli-Palestinian relations have been blocked for years and the proposals made two days ago by President Trump have, so far, raised unhelpful reactions.

Not only that, but the presence of Jihad and ISIS cells in Somalia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and sub-Saharan Africa indicate that the fire is spreading to the south and affecting the African continent.

Each of those conflicts and crises produces very serious violations of civil and human rights and this is a matter for the Council of Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people are forced to flee war zones, women are subjected to all forms of abuse and violence, even to slavery, as has happened to Yazide women. Thousands of children grow up amidst the bombs and fighting, prisoners are subjected to torture and summary executions. Migrants are held in detention camps that the UNHCR considers uncivilized and, where demonstrations take place – such as in Iran or Algeria –, police forces resort to repressive measures, arrests and trials, often without guarantees for the accused.

All this requires action.

Action must be taken to stop the spiral of violence in Libya, abandoning the illusion of a military solution and pursuing a political solution, negotiated and shared between the parties. It is therefore good that we have reached a formalised truce in Berlin, which must now be consolidated.

A similar effort must be made to pacify the Middle East, starting with the Syrian civil war, from which we can emerge by speeding up the conclusion of the Geneva talks. Just as for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a shared solution must be pursued between the parties. And there is an urgent need to support the stabilisation of Iraq and to convince the Iranian authorities to resume the implementation of the nuclear agreements.

But, achieving these goals, means that the international community must overcome the illusion that any state can act alone.

In the face of every crisis, the international community declares that the solution cannot be military, it can only be political. But if we look at what is really happening, we have to see that political solutions languish, while military solutions advance. And this is because the international community is paralysed by its divisions. The opposing positions of Russia and the United States prevent any decision by the Security Council. The clash between Shiites and Sunnis divides the Arab world. This can also be seen in Europe, where the Libyan and Syrian crises are testimony to the irrelevance of condemning a Europe that is incapable of speaking with one voice and acting with one hand.

In short, the condition for any political solution is that the international community has unified strategies, shared and supported by all countries.

For all these reasons, I believe that the Council of Europe, too, must contribute with its initiative to supporting peace-building and stabilisation processes, with a particular commitment, of course, to matters within our competence, namely, the protection of human and civil rights. By calling on the 47 countries of the Council of Europe to implement policies that prevent a humanitarian catastrophe: humanitarian corridors for the reception of refugees, reception of children to take them away from the suffering of war, we discussed this morning, reception and assistance to women who have suffered all forms of abuse and humiliation, legal migration policies to crush the black market for migrants, monitoring detention conditions to combat torture and suffering. These are all points contained in resolutions and recommendations adopted by the Assembly of the Council of Europe, in particular with regard to migration issues.

In short, those crises affect us because they are close to us, and it is illusory to believe that we can stay away from them. Instead, we have a duty to contribute, because of the competences and responsibilities that the Council of Europe has, to seek solutions. I therefore believe that it was right to hold this debate, even though low participation is certainly something that should concern us, given the dramatic nature of the events we are discussing. And in any case, I think this discussion should be followed up.

The follow-up I propose is that we do a report on the conflicts shaking the Mediterranean and the Middle East, as well as the consequences they have for civil and human rights. I hope that the bureau of the Assembly and the Political Committee will agree to this proposal.

I thank the President, I thank you all for your attention.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

15:48:15

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Thank you, Mr Piero FASSINO for introducing the debate.

I now go back to the speaking list. The next speaker on behalf of European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance is Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO please. 

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group 

15:48:31

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Thank you.

Thank you, Chairman.

Dear colleagues,

Yesterday, I told myself that I will not, during this session, say the word Russia anymore. But, unfortunately, I should do this again because it's an extremely important issue and I want to thank everybody who were proposing this debate. We know, today, the latest news that yesterday evening-night in Idlib, a rebel-held province in Syria, there was an air raid. It is believed that it was made by Russian military forces and because of this 10 civilians were killed. An air raid near a bakery, near hospital and now we have victims that are civilians and this is awful.

We all understand that what is going on in Idlib, this situation, the offensive that is held by Syrian government forces together with the Russians, has already driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes towards the border. First of all, with Turkey, which is a country member state of the Council of Europe. So certainly, we as the Council of Europe and member states, are absolutely involved in what is happening there now.

And we understand that the waves of migration from there are also caused by the situation in the Middle East. We understand that the situation in Libya is extremely dangerous, we see now how military airlines are forming, backing different groups inside the country, and we understand that it will influence all of us.

Ukraine felt it very well, because you know that, in the beginning of January, a Ukrainian passenger plane was shot down by the Irani military with 176 victims, which were killed. The majority of them were Canadians. Where is Canada? Where is the Middle East? But it is what we see in the modern world. Ukrainians died, from Great Britain, from Sweden, from Germany, people died in this awful situation.

Once again, it was in the Middle East, with the country Iran, which now, doesn't want to give to Ukraine black boxes of the plane. We couldn't say, in this situation, the concern appears that maybe they want to hide something. We know that the plane was crashed with Russian-produced missile surface planes, now we want to know what the answers will be.

So I want to say that this debate is important. Europe is not about geography. Europe is about values and we need to influence the whole world if we want to be safe in our countries. If you want to see that we are moving in the right direction. So never, please, we can never forget this, Let's work together to change the situation there for the better.

Thank you very much.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

15:51:42

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Thank you.

Next speaker on the list is Mr Georgios KATROUGKALOS from Greece.

Mr Georgios KATROUGKALOS

Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group 

15:51:49

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Thank you, Chair. Dear colleagues,

There is a triangle of instability in the Middle East. Libya, Syria, and Iraq are part of the theater of an extended proxy war: a new, bloodier variant of the great game of the 19th century. Especially Libya represents a massive political failure of the international community. First of all a failure of the EU foreign policy. The absence of a clear strategy and the inability to reach a common position reflect conflicting visions of strategic influence, but also economic interests related to oil reserves. This failure and the ambivalence, to use another statement, of the Trump Administration have created a vacuum that of course has been covered by other powers, the most active among them: Turkey.

Our Turkish colleagues at the political committee presented as a positive evolution the presence of Turkey on the ground. The problem is that this does not happen through the diplomatic but through through military means. Turkey has now army forces in Syria, Iraq, and, don't forget, Cyprus. Obviously this does not make Turkey part of the solution but part of the problem., as all these military operations are contrary to the international law.

Speaking of the Turkish invasion in Syria as incursion is the same as to define rape as penetration. In Libya, Turkey did not invade directly but it is present through the proxy of Syrian fighters. It has, moreover, manipulated the very fragile government of Tripoli in order to sign, to null and void, as contrary both to the national law and domestic Libyan law, memoranda: one of military aid, which violates the arms embargo and the recent agreement of the Berlin process or the ceasefire.

Even yesterday, according to a statement by President of France Emmanuel Macron, Turkish frigates were transporting weapons and fighters to the country.

The second memorandum is about the delimitation of the exclusive economic zones of Turkey and Libya to non neighboring countries to the detriment of legal and legitimate rights of both Cyprus and Greece. This is not just contrary to the international law, but also a violation of geography and common sense.

All states should refrain from violating international law and from actions which might exacerbate divisions, undermine human rights and Libya's democratic transition.

The Council of Europe should follow closely, but finally, only the Libyan themselves can solve the problems of their country.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

15:55:04

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Thank you.

Next speaker on the list is Mr Evripidis STYLIANIDIS from Greece.

Mr Evripidis STYLIANIDIS

Greece, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group 

15:55:10

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Thank you very much President.

If the colleagues could understand the consequences of this Libya conflict for Europe and for the world, then we would have many more speakers here today.

The situation in Libya doesn't only concern Libya, it affects the Mediterranean, and it can affect in a horrific fashion all of Europe and the entire World.

The war in Libya can't just lead to simple movements of huge groups of people. It's not only that. It's also the world energy market, world peace and world respect for human rights overall.

We ought to support the Berlin initiative for peace and stability in the region.

Countries that decide in unilateral fashion to intervene diplomatically and militarily, such as Turkey, do not facilitate the international effort. They just become part of the problem and not part of the solution. More particularly when what they try to do is they try to take advantage of a neighbouring country declaring an exclusive economic space in the sea between Turkey and Libya. This violates the law of the seas. It also violates the rule as far as territorial waters of the islands in the Aegean. These are islands that belong to the European Union.

This is being done by a country that has still not signed the international law of the seas.

We invite Turkey to respect international law and to respect peace and stability, serving the values and principles of this particular organisation at least.

Thank you.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

15:57:10

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Thank you. The next speaker on the list is Lord Donald ANDERSON from the United Kingdom.

Lord Donald ANDERSON

United Kingdom, SOC, Spokesperson for the group 

15:57:18

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One lesson is clear from the tragedy of Libya and that is to be cautious about the consequences of one's own actions.

Eight years ago, the United Kingdom and France with US air support invaded Libya, then they departed after having seen the regime collapse leaving a void for other countries to go into and exacerbating the regional rivalry between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.

I make three points. First, its turbulent history. Libya has no experience of democracy, compromise is an alien concept. I first visited Libya when King Idris was on the throne. I saw, just after the colonisation by Italy, I saw the beginnings of the oil riches, the way in which corruption and interference, particularly by private companies, was beginning. Then came the eccentric and chaotic rule of Colonel Gaddafi with no checks and balances, which collapsed after the invasion eight years ago.

Since the conflict between the United Nations recognised government in Tripoli supported by Turkey, by the West, and of course by civilian militias, against the forces of General Haftar, the warlord now dominant in the country, supported by Russia, Egypt and the Emirates increases.

This is reminiscent, as one colleague has already said, of the great game of the 19th Century. Hence, Libya is now a cockpit of struggle for dominance, lubricated by vast oil and offshore gas resources.

On 8 January, President Erdoğan and President Putin met in Istanbul. Clearly, Libya and Syria are no doubt high on the agenda as potential spheres of influence.

Finally, our subject includes consequences for Europe. The United Nations Security Council is paralysed by the Russian veto and European powers have little influence in the region hence the fact that the deal of the century for the Palestinians by President Trump was announced without any consultation with the Europeans, yet the Council of Europe countries are much affected by the region, not just in migration flows, but also because of the traffic of arms, which flow both to Europe and the Sahel. This week, we've seen massacres in Burkina Faso; there is Mali, and of course there is Chad. Humanitarian impulses and self-interest combined.

And I commend the initiative of Germany. Questions still arise, how do we analyse the new opportunistic alliance between Russia and Turkey? Is this a new Ottoman presence? Is Russia seeking to pursue its own dream of influence in the Eastern mediterranean? Oil and gas resources can only complicate an already complicated problem. 

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:00:45

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Thank you Lord Donald ANDERSON.

The next speaker on the list is Ms Nicole TRISSE from France.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group 

16:00:51

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Thank you, Mr President. Dear colleagues,

Libya and the Middle East, as we all know, are close to Europe in more ways than one. Geography, history and parts of our respective cultures are all bridges between the different shores of these regions and continents.

Everything that is happening in the Maghreb and the Middle East cannot leave the European states, and therefore the Council of Europe, indifferent. By their geo-political effects, their impact on migratory flows and the questioning they sometimes provoke with regard to our democratic values and principles, the events affecting the countries of the region directly concern us. In recent weeks, however, there have been two major events which, in the view of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, justify the holding of this topical and urgent debate.

First of all, the situation in Libya, far from improving, is tending more and more towards confusion and the absence of any prospect of stabilisation. Despite the efforts of the international community to promote cooperation between the Government of National Accord of Mr. Fayez el-Sarraj and General Haftar, the civil war is still going on.

In fact, the Libyan political agreement signed on 17 December 2015 and the action plan of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Libya of 20 September 2017, which were hopeful in their time, seem almost illusory today. Worse. The seeds of Libya's difficulties, which are at the root of the current chaos, are still at work in different forms. Several Council of Europe member states are more or less openly providing military and political support to the belligerents, without seeking to encourage dialogue and national reconciliation, which is the only viable prospect for a sound reconstruction of the country in the long term.

This situation is regrettable and worrying. The ALDE group, for its part, would like to see the geopolitical games disappear behind collective responsibility and the ambition for a better future for Libya. In this regard, a return to the fundamentals of the Libyan political agreement of 2015 and the action plan of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for 2017 seem to us to be the only viable and credible way forward. The Council of Europe, in this framework, could provide legal assistance for the reconstruction of a Libyan state based on law and democratic values.

The second important fact is from this week. It concerns the Middle East peace plan presented by the President of the United States on 28 January. We welcome any initiative to reinvigorate a stalled peace process. We can only hope that positive developments will take place to the benefit of both Israelis and Palestinians. However, in our view, achieving a final and lasting peace in the region requires the involvement of the Palestinians and their consent. In our view, the principle of a two-state solution must remain the fundamental basis of any solid and lasting peace plan.

Europe will undoubtedly have a say in the process that is beginning; or so we hope. Finally, for the ALDE Group, our Assembly must continue to remain both vigilant and demanding on developments in Libya and the Middle East.

Thank you.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:04:07

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The next speaker will be Mr Aleksander POCIEJ, who I don't see in the room.

Then we'll go forward.

The next speaker is Mr George PAPANDREOU.

 

Mr George PAPANDREOU

Greece, SOC 

16:04:20

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Mr President.

Dear Colleagues, nine years ago leaders from different countries decided to bomb Libya in order to protect innocent citizens. I was present at that meeting then as Prime Minister of Greece. I then pleaded that we refrain from doing so until we had exhausted all pressures towards Gaddafi for a peaceful transition. Unfortunately our decisions had the opposite result.

We are witnessing untold suffering of Libyan citizens as well as a proxy war which is tearing Libya apart, Mr Piero FASSINO very well has described.

A proxy war is something we in the Balkans often have suffered from, and can only be stopped through regional cooperation, not regional competition. The Berlin Conference stresses this need and has called for all international and regional actors to refrain from interference in this armed conflict.

Dear colleagues, we must not underestimate how the ongoing situation in Libya may further destabilise the Eastern Mediterranean while unleashing a new sea of refugees towards Europe.

Unfortunately tensions have recently heightened following the memorandum of understanding signed between the governments of Tripoli and Turkey. This agreement is a quid pro quo. Turkey gives you military support and you agree to delineate new maritime zones in the Mediterranean in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This memorandum of understanding ignores the sovereign rights of Greece and other neighbouring countries of the region.

The German Bundestag legal department has clearly stated that such an agreement without the consent of other Mediterranean countries concerned violates the customary law of the sea and cannot be considered as legal.

The international community, key regional players, the European Union and even the internationally recognised Libyan parliament have made similar protests.

As my Turkish colleagues know I personally have fought and contributed towards a spirit of cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the region. Despite our outstanding issues such as Cyprus, Greece's long-standing position has been that we delineate the continental shelf through dialogue and if necessary going to the Hague, the court of the Hague.

So I call on my Turkish colleagues to send a message to the government. Do not undermine this spirit of cooperation. One which we have developed in constructive ways and constructive ties over the past 20 years. Unilateral actions violate this spirit of peace and cooperation. Working together we will be much more effective in helping the people of Libya find peaceful solutions, protecting refugees, human rights and in the end protecting our European values.

Thank you.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:07:14

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Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Alfred HEER from Switzerland.

Mr Alfred HEER

Switzerland, ALDE 

16:07:20

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Yes, thank you, Mister Chair.

Unfortunately the Arab Spring that began ended in an Arab winter. Not only in Libya we have a complete war zone, also in Egypt we have a military dictatorship, we have in Syria still Hafez al-Assad in power. We didn't see any democratic evolvement that we hoped for when the Arab Spring was starting. What concerns Libya we have to say that member states of the Council of Europe have a responsibility for the situation as it is today.

I'm not an advocate of Gaddafi, he was a cruel and brutal dictator, but the bombing of Libya didn't lead to an improvement of the situation. As we see today it was easy for France who was leading to bomb Qaddafi away, but they didn't have a concept of what should be coming after the tumbling down of Libya.

Today we have a proxy war in Libya. We have a war between warlords and clans. We have Turkey and Russia getting involved. We have a humanitarian crisis with refugees coming from African states wanting to cross the Mediterranean to go to Italy. They are abused, they are extorted by criminals in Libya, and the Council of Europe - if we are really truthful to ourselves - we have to say there is not much we can do because now military actions is ruling Libya. And we only can hope together with Russia and Turkey who are now involved in Libya, who are member states also of the Council of Europe, that we can return to a peaceful solution, that we can have the hope for a democratization of Libya. We hope for rule of law, for democracy, and for human rights in this Libya that is today shaken by terror and abuse of human rights.

So, it's a big task for us. And of course we can speak here, we can show our goodwill, but in the end we are dependent on Russia and Turkey that they find a way to find a piece together with the Council of Europe. Together we have to work to find a better solution for the people in Libya.

Thank you.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:10:17

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Thank you.

Next speaker on the list is Mr Ahmet Ünal ÇEVİKÖZ, from Turkey.

Mr Ahmet Ünal ÇEVİKÖZ

Turkey, SOC 

16:10:25

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Thank you, Mister President.

Distinguished members of the Assembly, we are discussing here today the recent developments in Libya and in the Middle East, and we are trying to identify which could be the consequences of those developments for Europe.

The immediate consequences for Europe are many folds. But the most acute among those consequences happen to be the increasing pressure emanating from massive population displacements and growing migration, as well as the increasing danger of terrorist elements reaching out to our own societies. Turkey is very much exposed to the immediate negative consequences of the Syrian quagmire. The presence of close to 5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey is the most severe result of the Syrian civil war. The unfolding situation in Idlib, I'm afraid, is going to aggravate the situation even more.

Let me also mention the principled approach that my party has pursued concerning the developments in Libya. We have voted against the bill to send troops to Libya when the issue was brought to the Turkish parliament. In fact, all the opposition parties in the Turkish Parliament voted against the bill. We argued that the bill itself was contradicting to the UN Security Council resolutions 1970, which imposes an arms embargo, as well as resolution 2259, which confirms that the Libyan political agreement signed in Skhirat on 17 December 2015 is still the only framework in which an end can be brought to the Libyan crisis.

Our position was confirmed in Berlin on the 19th of January, at the International Conference on Libya, where the institutions deriving from the Libyan political agreement continue to receive International recognition. I have to reiterate that legitimacy in Libya would be incomplete if it fails to include all the institutions, both in Tripoli and in Tobruk, and this is our understanding.

We believe that the solution in Libya should be political, not military, and in order to achieve a non-military solution you have to avoid escalating the conflict militarily. We are also concerned about the reports that suggests that there is a serious flow of terrorist fighters from jihadist organizations, which are currently based in the Idlib province of Syria, to Tripoli in Libya. This is dangerous, and all the countries should respect international law, avoid getting involved in proxy wars through their clients and support the resolutions of the United Nations.

Finally, as we are talking about Libya and the wider Middle East, we should be very careful about the possible consequences of the plan presented yesterday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is widespread agreement that the plan fails to present a legitimate framework for lasting peace in the Middle East. In fact, reactions to the plan, immediately after it has been released, justify this understanding.

Thank you.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:13:09

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Thank you.

The next speaker on the list is Mr George LOUCAIDES, from Cyprus.

Mr George LOUCAIDES

Cyprus, UEL 

16:13:14

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Thank you, Mr Chair.

Dear Colleagues,

Libya is suffering endless bloodshed in recent years, being the theatre of following interventions, openly involved in the civil war. At the same time, the collapse of state structures has turned the area into concentration camps for migrants from Africa at the mercy of human traffickers.

However, all of the above have a common origin and a specific course. As it was said by Mr George PAPANDREOU, Libya is currently in this tragic situation because, in 2011, it was bombed by NATO in order to overthrow GADDAFI. Overnight, he became a bloody dictator, from the previous privileged interlocutor and trading partner he had been for many European states. The truth is that in Libya, as in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the West organised and waged a war in order to control energy reserves and pipelines and promote geopolitical interests.

Furthermore, at the very core of the Middle East problem, remains the Palestinian question. TRUMP's so-called "deal of the century" is nothing less than an attempt to legitimise all illegal actions and claims of Israel throughout the years. Thus, violating international law and relevant UN resolutions that provide for a two-state solution within the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Dear Colleagues, the tragedy of the Libyan people is continuing. The imperialistic attack in Libya was followed by the interventions of foreign states to bolster opposing sides in the conflict, in order to get their share of the country's wealth the day after. On its path, the EU is unable to play an essential role in Libya because of member states' conflicting interests and their corresponding monopolies. Particular reference should be made to Turkish involvement within the context of its overall aggression and interventions in the inter-eastern Mediterranean.

We are referring to the illegal and irrational agreement concluded between the governments of ERDOĞAN and FAYIZ ES-SERRAC on the delimitation of the Turkey-Libya maritime zones, which constitutes a gross violation of international law, given that it is fully disregarding the legal rights of other coastal states and, most specifically, Egypt and Greece. These provocative actions of Turkey come in addition to the illegal activities it is pursuing in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone, that also undermines the perspective of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem and have taken the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey.

The international community should fully and unequivocally denounce the agreement, stressing that Turkey must fully comply with international law.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:16:29

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Thank you.

The next speaker on the list is Mr Alvise MANIERO from Italy.

Mr Alvise MANIERO

Italy, NR 

16:16:34

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Thank you, Chair.

Now, when I proposed this debate on behalf of the Italian delegation somebody reminded me that we should maybe stick to the strictest competencies of the Council of Europe and its member states. And I think that was a fair remark. But that's just as fair to remind all of us that what's happening in Libya, in the Mediterranean area, does concern us strictly.

So we all know and somebody already said, like my very good colleague Mr Piero FASSINO, some of the states in the area enjoyed the status of partners for democracy in this organization or observer. And, of course some of the member countries of the Council of Europe are playing a very important role in the peace talks these days. We saw that at the Berlin Conference a few days ago and at other peace talks.

Some of these countries are also playing a very influential role on a military point of view. Be it through weapons shipping or regular troops, war ships, or even more contractors like presence in the area. We should all be aware of that. So we are involved in this. And let me remind all of us, as we know, that human rights in Libya and in the area do concern us and they do concern us not just went those people desperate for their lives are coming to our shores looking for a future or even just a little bit of security.

So, please let me remind you that this does concern us and I think it's very ambitious to try and draw boundaries and borders to human rights in a globalized world.

I also stress, I think it is my duty, that now and tomorrow we will have to strive also for a better regulation framework in the European Union concerning immigration. We all care that those who come to Europe looking for safety are welcome by Europe, not by single states.

Leave the little alone, bearing a greater weight of this mission by a lousy Dublin regulation. I always remind that.

So we all said we do not need a proxy war in Libya. We do not need tension in the Mediterranean area or on the Middle East. Of course. So I will ask tomorrow for a follow-up of this discussion, and I really hope that my colleagues will share these considerations. This matter does deserve a few words and a great attention by all of us.

Thank you very much.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:19:24

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The next speaker on the list is Mr Allal AMRAOUI from Morocco.

I don't see him in his seat.

Is he in the room?

No, apparently.

Then I give the word to Mr Michel BRANDT, from Germany.

Mr Michel BRANDT

Germany, UEL 

16:19:39

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Yes, thank you very much.

The power situation, the proxy war and raw materials interests in Libya have already been discussed here. I would like to turn our attention once again to another geopolitical interest of Europe, namely migration policy.

The EU and its member states continue to finance the so-called Libyan coast guard out of interests in stopping the flight movement from Libya to Europe. But Libya, which was bombed to become a Failed State by NATO in 2011, has no state-controlled coast guard. These are militias; they are involved in the civil war with sometimes conflicting interests, operate internment camps, trade with people and commit many human rights violations. But the EU and its member states knowingly accept this in order to provide with technology, weapons, money and a floating operations centre to the militias earmarked for Europe's bouncer job. This was actually put into operation. But who you support there is secondary. The aim was only to stop people from fleeing to Europe.

War criminals such as Ahmed Dajabi, who were wanted by the UN, were titled and accepted as partners by Europe for the purpose of isolation. They continue their actions, which are contrary to human rights, in the state mantle, with cruel consequences. It has been documented several times how fugitives held off by the so-called Libyan coast guard prefer to jump into the water rather than return to the torture camps in Libya.

The conditions in these camps, which are contrary to human rights, have been discussed here many times. The EU is financing and equipping these militias of the Libyan coast guard; we must clearly state this again here today. The last time we did this was in the urgent report “Saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea: the need for an urgent response“ done in the last week of the October session. The latter states very clearly that the rescue of people in the Mediterranean is an obligation of European states under international and human rights law. But the urgent report goes even further: it calls for a de facto end to the cooperation of the EU and its member states with the so-called Libyan coast guard. It calls on the EU to link support for the so-called Libyan coast guard to full respect for human rights. However, the Libyan militias continue to be involved in human rights crimes. Recently, reports of a fugitive shot by them on board became known.

The resolution also puts pressure on the member states of the Council of Europe to ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is respected and to provide legal means of escape for the exercise of the right to apply for asylum or subsidiary protection on European soil. We should increase this pressure again today and make it clear that cooperation with the Libyan militias by the EU and its nation states must end. Thanks a lot!

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:22:39

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I must now interrupt the list of speakers as previously announced.

The speeches of members on the speakers list that have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the table office for publication in the official report.

I remind colleagues that the typewritten text can be submitted electronically if possible no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

I remind you that at the end of the current affairs debate the Assembly is not asked to decide upon a text, but the matter may be referred by the Bureau to the responsible Committee for report.

We now come to the joint debate on two reports from the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons. The first is titled “Concerted action against human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants“, in document 15023, presented by Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, Chairperson of Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, on behalf of the rapporteur Mr Vernon COAKER who is no longer a member of the Assembly.

This will be followed by a presentation of opinion by Ms Isabelle RAUCH on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination as available in document 15051. The second report is titled “Missing refugee and migrant children in Europe“, document 15026, presented by Ms Serap YAŞAR. This will be followed by a presentation of opinion by Lord Don TOUHIG on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, document 15032.

In order to finish by 6:40 p.m. I will interrupt the list of speakers at around 6:05 p.m. to allow time for replies and votes.

I remind members that speaking time in this debate is limited to three minutes.

May I ask everyone of the rapporteurs and committees to take their seats now.

Could you please take your seats? Could you please take your seats?

I can call Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ to present the first report on behalf of the rapporteur.

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ you have 13 minutes in total which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

The floor is yours.

Mr Bernard SABELLA

Palestine 

19:50:17

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

The Middle East is in need of healing both internally and externally. We as citizens of that region not only are perplexed by what is happening but feel worried that with Arab weakness, powerful regional and international actors take over without respect to the needs and rights of ordinary people. The malaise in the Middle East puts more urgent need for healing. Unfortunately, the recent peace plan by president Trump puts the Middle East further into troubled waters. While I do not go into all the dangers that the Trump initiative pose for us Palestinians, making us into a Bantustan or a number of citytustans controlled forever by Israeli occupation forces. No recognition of Jerusalem as a shared capital for three religions and for Palestinians and Israelis; annexation of settlements; imposing Israeli rule on the entire Jordan Valley and full control of Israel on borders, import taxes and a free hand in continuing to have checkpoints and imposing other security measures at will. The US has stopped making any pretext that it is an honest broker for peace between Palestinians and Israelis as it has taken the side of Israel and disregarded entirely the Palestinian position, narrative, history and rights. Aside from freezing financial aid to Palestinians, the Trump Administration stopped funding for UNWA which cares for over 5-million Palestinian refugees. This endangered the continuity of needed health and education services to hundreds of thousands of refugee camp residents.

Healing of the political void in the Middle East is of paramount importance at present. I ask in this context what is the role of Europe and the Council of Europe in helping out in a healing process and in a genuine peace process when our Palestinian people will exercise its natural right in establishing its viable state with East Jerusalem as its Capital. With Israeli occupation over, our Palestinian people can then live normal life at peace and harmony with all of our neighbors. This would also contribute in a definite manner to the healing process for the entire Middle East.

Mr Ziya ALTUNYALDIZ

Turkey, NR 

19:59:36

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear President, Dear Colleagues,

The recent turmoil and escalating conflict in Libya does not only pose a threat to Libyans themselves, but to Europe as well. The current affairs debate allows us as members of PACE to call on all states to ensure that the crisis in Libya is solved without further bloodshed. It is of the utmost importance that all relevant stakeholders should contribute to finding a lasting and robust peace in Libya.

As you know, the former General Hafter attempted a coup in February 2014, declaring that he had suspended the General National Congress, the government and the Constitutional Declaration but established so-called the Libyan Military Transition Council. This coup attempt further destabilized the situation in Libya. The attacks carried out in Libya created a security vacuum and provided fertile ground for terrorist groups like DAESH and Al-Qaida to gain further ground.

I would like to remind that the National Accord Government is the legitimate representative of Libyan people according to international law and UN decision. It is with no doubt that a stable government is essential for providing a solid basis to stop the ongoing chaos in Libya. In order to accomplish this task, Turkey has been supporting the current UN backed, legitimate National Accord Government of Libya.

The Berlin Conference of January 19 further underlined the fact that the solution to the Libyan problem could not be a military one. Turkey has contributed to the Berlin Process and supports the three-point-plan presented by Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General effort to reach out assist the United Nations in unifying the international community in their support for a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis. President Erdoğan, along with President Putin, have stressed that there can be no military solution but the diplomatic one in Libya and stressed the need for a ceasefire.

I would like to reiterate that Turkey would continue to support all measures for stabilizing the situation in Libya. I call on all PACE member states to support such measures by not putting their own interest before the unity and sustainability of Libya and the Libyans interests.

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Christiana EROTOKRITOU

Cyprus, SOC 

20:00:34

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear Colleagues,

We could very well be standing on the verge of a very detrimental development to the security of Europe and the stability of the Mediterranean.

The most worrying however development which does not seem to adequately alarm Europe is the fact that jihadi fighters have been transported to Libya for combat. Who has been exporting jihadist militias and offensive military equipment there is another matter, even though the answer is obvious. The reality on the ground today is that hundreds if not thousands of jihadi terrorists are fully armed and fighting in Libya, just a hop away from the Italian coast.

As stated yesterday by President Macron, Turkey is violating the arms embargo that was agreed in Berlin just a few weeks ago.

Dear Colleagues, make no mistake. No foreign country has been invited to go to Libya. Libya has been manipulated by Turkey who has taken advantage of the weakened and desperate government of Fayez Al-Sarraj of Tripoli, to strike a barter deal: Sign an illegal agreement splitting up the Exclusive Economic Zones that belong to other countries according to UNCLOS between us, and in return, if you invite me, I will send you military aid. Turkey is also attempting to steal Cypriot natural gas by drilling in plots that the Republic of Cyprus has already assigned to French Total and Italian Eni energy companies.

The Libyan situation has alarmed the entire region including Egypt and the UAE among others who realize the threat of the resurrection of ISIS in the Middle East. Arab public opinion has already been galvanised.

Europe should take a firm stance that any agreements contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is null and void and shall be met with a strong political response. Europe should take specific steps to ensure that ALL FOREIGN TROOPS and equipment immediately withdraw from Libya and all Foreign Intervention halted.

If we sit and idly watch the situation in Libya unfold, Europe risks re-living the Syrian crisis all over again just much closer to its borders and this will awaken the nationalists and populists in Europe with unforeseen effects.

So if humanitarian reasons are not enough, the political, economic, cultural and social crisis that awaits Europe should be.

Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY

Turkey, NR 

20:01:13

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear President

Dear Colleagues,

The recent developments in Libya deserve our utmost attention, since Libya has a unique geopolitical position which makes it pivotal for both the Middle East and Europe. This is way this current affairs debate provides a timely and much-needed occasion for examining the worsening situation in Libya.

Arab Spring has clearly demonstrated that military solutions to the crisis in the region brings more bloodshed and makes protracted conflicts even worse. Rather than resorting to the military solutions, intensive diplomatic efforts are required to address the ongoing problems. All key actors in the process should be included in the negotiation table in order to reach a sustainable resolution. In this context, Turkish initiatives in collaboration with Russia helped create an enabling political environment for ceasefire. Turkey is unilaterally exerting a huge diplomatic effort to allow the fragile cease-fire in Libya to blossom into a lasting peace. Our objective is not to engage in clashes on the ground. Instead, our sole objective is to prevent any development that may drag the region into further instability and lead to further humanitarian tragedies.

In parallel, Turkey has supported the Berlin Process to find a political solution to the conflict under the auspices of the UN, to reach an agreement among the relevant international actors and to provide a conducive atmosphere to start dialogue among Libyans. From the very beginning, Turkey has adopted a constructive attitude and contributed actively to this process.

Dear Colleagues, Turkey is part of a peaceful solution in Libya and supporting the internationally and UN-recognized Government of National Accord. What about the other countries? Who are they supporting? In addition, Turkish military personnel, invited by internationally recognized Government, is in Libya as training forces not as combatting forces.

Finally, I need to underline that a sustainable solution can only be achieved by a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process under the UN umbrella.

To conclude, our common concern is the peace and stability in the all regions of the world, not just in Europe. We should do our best to support these efforts towards a peaceful Libya.

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ

Turkey, NR 

20:02:11

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear President, Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to have opportunity to debate this critical issue since it has humanitarian and political impacts on not only the Middle East and North Africa, but also Europe.

Libya has hardly had stable government after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since then, measures taken through military means has deepened crisis rather than providing a solution. Therefore, I would like to stress that current stalemate cannot be resolved through military means. In this regard, we should promote dialogue between relevant parties. Turkey has been constantly in touch with neighbouring countries and major international actors to reach a permanent ceasefire and a return to political dialogue.

The stance of international community has a crucial importance on efforts towards ending the conflict and creating convenient atmosphere on the road of peace and stability in Libya. Moreover, in order to halt the military conflict in Libya and settle disputes, all sides should have a constructive attitude in accordance with international law and norms. If a political solution is not reached, the vacuum in Libya would turn the region into a breeding ground for terrorists and warlords.

In this regard, the United Nations should be the sole address for a political solution in Libya. Turkey backs the Government of National Accord in Libya, which has also been recognized in line with the UNSC Resolution 2259. Turkey's efforts are directed towards achieving a permanent ceasefire in Libya. In addition to this, there is urgent need to return to the UN-facilitated political process since the immediate ceasefire is of utmost importance.

I would like to highlight once more that peace and stability in Libya could solely be achieved through political dialogue. As members of PACE, it is our utmost responsibility to contribute to the political dialogue in the most constructive fashion.

Dear Colleagues,

While we are discussing the recent developments, one of our focusing point should be Jerusalem, Kudüs. Few days ago, Trump presented a plan regarding Kudüs. This so-called deal is actually another plan to legitimize the occupation on Palestinian territory. Moreover, this so-called deal is jeopardizing regional peace. As the members of this honorable Assembly, we should raise our voice and say “one minute” to this one-sided deal for preserving the stability in the region and to have a sustainable peace. Jerusalem belongs to Muslims, Christians and Jewish people; but not to the occupying forces.

Thank you.

Mr Armağan Candan

Representative of the Turkish Cypriot Community 

20:03:28

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

With the fall of Ghaddafi, an era of more than 40 years ended in Libya. Back then, it was obvious that it would take some time to stabilize the country and install a functioning state.

Yet, no one expected that the situation would escalate to this extend endangering the stability of the whole region.

Along with Syria, the crisis in Libya, has led to a rise of instability in the Eastern Mediterranean, which has been suffering from the long-lasting conflicts such as the conflict between Israel and Palestine and my country Cyprus.

Another factor escalating the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, has been the hydrocarbon exploration activities in the region and the rivalry regarding delimitation of exclusive economic zones. Again, with Cyprus at its epicentre. The natural resources should be utilized as a tool for cooperation rather than as a pretext for tension.

In fact, we all know that the solution of the Cyprus Conflict is possible if there is the necessary political will. Needless to say, its settlement would not only end the longlasting dispute between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, the two co-owners of the island, but would serve as a breakthrough contributing towards cooperation and stability within the region.

If the Council of Europe wants to contribute towards the stabilisation of the region, it should be saving no effort to encourage the two sides on the island and the other relevant actors to find a settlement to the Cyprus conflict as soon as possible.

Joint Debate: Concerted action against human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Chairperson of the committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

16:25:10

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Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

Almost two years ago, our friend and colleague Vernon COAKER was appointed rapporteur on this subject, a subject he had proposed in a motion for a resolution. Since then, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has had the opportunity to listen to a number of experts who have testified about what it really means to be a victim of trafficking in human beings in Europe, in our different member states.

Mrs #Agnès Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, informed our committee of the very high estimates of victims of trafficking and smuggling of migrants who are killed along their route unnoticed. Ms Odette Herijgers, a doctor in the Netherlands, gave a shocking account of her experience with trafficked and sexually exploited migrants in camps on the Greek islands. Ms Sabine Constabel, social worker and founder of the NGO Sisters in Stuttgart, informed the Committee of the tragic fate of women trafficked to Germany for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Finally, I would like to mention Ms Annabel Canzian of the Committee against Modern Slavery in Paris and Ms Anna Sereni of the NGO Anti-Slavery International in London, who highlighted forms of forced labour and other forms of modern slavery.

For this trafficking in human beings can take different forms, each as sordid as the next, and which sometimes accumulate for the victims:

- The exploitation of the prostitution of others and other forms of sexual exploitation, the most common form, is an abominable scandal;

- Trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, which is often forgotten but which is a major problem, a major reality in some parts of Europe;

- Trafficking in organs, a subject which will also be dealt with tomorrow in a report by the Committee on Social Affairs;

- And finally, trafficking for the purpose of forced marriage or illegal adoption.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive but it does cover the main problems.

Women account for more than two thirds of all victims and this proportion is even higher in forms of trafficking that involve sexual aspects, especially among victims of forced prostitution.

These inadmissible abuses concern first and foremost the most vulnerable people and migrants; isolated migrants, especially women and unaccompanied minors, people in an illegal situation, represent ideal targets and then ideal victims.

Our Member States and ourselves, as national parliamentarians, are called upon to intensify concerted action in this area. We owe it to the too many victims, and we must not look away from the immense suffering that takes place every day in our countries.

For too many years now, Europe has been affected by this abominable scourge of the sale and exploitation of human beings. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reported very alarming figures in 2012 for the European Union alone: 888 000 people were in forced labour in the European Union at that time, 58 per cent of victims of forced labour were women and the proportion of all victims of sexual exploitation, mostly women, was estimated at 30 per cent; 30 per cent of almost 900 000 people, that is between 250 000 and 300 000 women victims of forced prostitution in the European Union. This was the case in 2012; given the large number of migrants who have arrived in Europe since then, these figures are probably below the reality today.

Let us repeat: being an irregular migrant or an unaccompanied migrant child leads to a situation of particular vulnerability. That is why our Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population was chosen to prepare this report.

As chairman of the committee, I have the privilege of presenting and defending this report drawn up by Mr Vernon COAKER, which was unanimously adopted by our committee in Paris on 2 December, which is also the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

In the Council of Europe, we have excellent legal standards and recognised expertise in the fight against trafficking in human beings.

In fact, and the text of the resolution is quite an exhaustive list, a whole series of international bodies have worked on the subject and drawn up recommendations, in addition to the Council of Europe:

- The European Union in its Fundamental Charter;

- GRETA (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings);

- The United Nations;

- The ILO - with its conventions on forced labour and domestic workers;

- THE OSCE;

- The sport ethics and abuse community.

Conventions, resolutions and legal texts abound, but the problem remains a cruelly topical one. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has therefore decided to make this subject a priority, to highlight it more prominently and to do everything possible to strengthen the fight against trafficking in human beings, a decision taken at its 129th session on 17 May 2019 in Helsinki.

Talking is good, acting is even better. Each success, however modest, represents a step in the right direction, an essential step for the victim who manages to get out of her nightmare.

In this context, the report before you today makes a number of proposals. I mention just a few important ones.

Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits trafficking in human beings. Therefore, Member States will be reminded of their obligation to protect all persons under their jurisdiction against trafficking, and victims are entitled to have recourse as a last resort to the European Court of Human Rights for any violation of this protection.

We call on parliaments to co-operate more actively on a multilateral basis in the fight against trafficking and to establish a parliamentary network for collaboration against trafficking in co-operation with our Assembly.

We also call on governments to establish anti-trafficking delegates or advocates who can tackle trafficking and smuggling of migrants on the ground and act as a point of contact for victims. These victims need to know that if they come forward, they will be helped, supported and, above all, protected.

In the spirit of the decision of the Committee of Ministers in Helsinki last year, we recommend in particular that the Committee of Ministers examines ways of strengthening the prohibition of trafficking in human beings, in accordance with Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and draw up a new Council of Europe convention against the smuggling of migrants.

Ms Isabelle RAUCH, from the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, author of a report for opinion, usefully suggested including the aspect of violence against women by a reference to the Istanbul Convention. Women are the majority of victims, and violence is used daily to force them into sexual exploitation, forced labour or other forms of human trafficking.

Each and every one of us should ensure that the core values of this organization are equally accessible to these victims and effectively protect them.

Before concluding, I should like to point out that our Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons decided, at its meeting yesterday, to set up a sub-committee on this subject - trafficking and smuggling of migrants - thus demonstrating its willingness to make this dramatic subject one of its priorities.

I expressly thank Mr Vernon COAKER for his work and I sincerely hope that this House will adopt the resolution and recommendation, ideally unanimously, thus giving a clear signal of the will to combat this modern-day slavery in a determined manner.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Andreas NICK

Germany, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:33:34

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Thank you.

I now call Ms Isabelle RAUCH, rapporteur, for the first opinion. You have three minutes.

Ms Isabelle RAUCH

France, ALDE, Rapporteur for opinion, committee on equality and non-discrimination 

16:33:45

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Mr President, Madam President, Dear colleagues,

As rapporteur for the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, I congratulate Mr Vernon COAKER on his report aimed at reviving and strengthening action against trafficking in human beings in Europe.

The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination supports the draft resolution and recommendation and in particular shares the human rights-based approach adopted by the rapporteur and the strong support for the work of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).

However, the committee draws attention to the fact that trafficking in human beings affects women disproportionately - this was rightly pointed out just before. According to the 2016 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Report on Trafficking in Persons, 71 percent of victims are women and girls. On the basis of data from UNODC, Eurostat and the European Police Office (Europol), the study on the gender dimension of trafficking in human beings, prepared for the European Parliament in 2016, 96% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in Europe would be girls and women.

Also, the UN's Sustainable Development 2030 Programme confirms the link between trafficking and gender-based violence: under Sustainable Development Goal 5, "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls", target 5.2: "Eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, including trafficking and sexual and other forms of exploitation, from public and private life.»

Furthermore, Mr Vernon COAKER's report and the draft resolution refer to several subjects that are relevant to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence or Istanbul Convention, such as forced marriages and forced prostitution, but without mentioning it.

Indeed, the question of marriages contracted by force shows precisely the relevance of this convention to the subject matter of this report. It is important to recall that article 37 of the Istanbul Convention introduces an obligation for parties to criminalize forced marriage.

In addition, article 32 is intended to facilitate the annulment of marriages contracted by the use of force.

Article 59 supplements these provisions by introducing the obligation to grant an autonomous residence permit to victims of forced marriage in the event of dissolution of the marriage.

That is why the draft resolution and recommendation adopted by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons represent an opportunity to remind Council of Europe member states, observer states and partners for democracy of the importance of adopting this kind of approach in order to combat trafficking more effectively.

It is therefore essential, while strongly supporting these texts, to introduce an explicit reference to the gender dimension.

Furthermore, it was essential that the draft resolution should remind Member States of the relevance and importance of the Istanbul Convention, with an appeal to sign and ratify it for those that had not done so.

The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has adopted three amendments on my initiative, which aim to strengthen the texts adopted and make them more appropriate in the current context.

I hope that this House will follow the committee and adopt them by a large majority.

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

16:37:20

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Thank you Ms Isabelle RAUCH.

And I will now call Ms Serap YAŞAR, who is the rapporteur for the second report.

Ms Serap YAŞAR, you have 13 minutes in total which you may divide between the presentation of the report and your reply to the debate.

The floor is yours.

Ms Serap YAŞAR

Turkey, NR, Rapporteur, committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

16:37:35

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Thank you, Mr President, dear colleagues, dear Members of the Assembly,

During their flight from Afghanistan to Europe, children - a family of nine - were separated from their families. Once they arrived in France, where they were taken in charge by the service for the protection of minors, these children contacted the French Red Cross because they did not know where their families were and could not find any trace of them. The French Red Cross forwarded their request for family links to the Turkish Red Crescent, which immediately launched a search with the Red Crescent, which managed to find the family in Turkey.

Once she was located, a Turkish Red Crescent team visited her in her hometown and helped her to travel to Istanbul where she was able - in the absence of a passport - to apply for emergency travel documents at the French consulate. The family, accompanied by a member of the Turkish Red Crescent, was transferred to Toulouse to meet the two children. The family, which had been separated since February 2007, was reunited last week thanks to concerted information from the French Red Cross and the Turkish Red Crescent.

This story shows that it is sometimes possible for things to end well, despite distances and national borders. In addition to respect for international humanitarian principles, this requires swift action, good cooperation, effective information systems and people of good will. There must also be determination on the part of the families concerned, who must be fully - and understandably - informed of their rights, their possibilities and all the assistance they can request. Finally, there must be great solidarity between countries and a genuine willingness to resolve the difficulties caused by migration, both for individuals and for States.

To return to my example, the Turkish Red Crescent Society helps to reunite migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with their families through national associations and the International Committee of the Red Crescent. It finds missing persons, reunites families and transmits messages between family members. That's what I'm trying to show in my missing children's report. The resolution recalls all the international legal provisions that may apply in the event of a child's disappearance. It sets out guidelines for the search of missing children and the specific measures that should be taken to find them and then organise their reception and care.

It warns of the dangers to which these children are exposed. It calls for more to be done to prevent disappearances through coherent systems of care and referral for unaccompanied children, the dissemination of child-friendly information, procedures for determining the age of asylum seekers, among other recommendations to the Committee of Ministers, which shows that the work of the Council of Europe is also doing much to draw attention to unaccompanied children and to advocate policies and practices in this respect.

The resolution encourages local and regional authorities to work on unaccompanied refugee children and on the social integration of children living and/or working on the streets, particularly in relation to measures to prevent the disappearance of children. The Ad Hoc Committee on the Rights of the Child has been mandated to examine policies to prevent the disappearance of migrant children.

The Council of Europe Action Plan on the Protection of Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe 2017-2019 should be widely used. The priority nature of this issue should be reaffirmed so that the work, which has already been completed, can be continued.

The experiences of different countries in preventing the disappearance of refugee and migrant children due to human trafficking and sexual exploitation should be shared. To return to the example of the programme to restore family links, mutual assistance strategies should be multiplied and better coordinated and the use of Interpol notices and the Schengen Information System should be systematized in all the countries concerned.

In December 2019, I attended the UN Global Forum on Refugees in Geneva, where it was mentioned that at the beginning of the 2020 decade, there are 71 million displaced people worldwide, both within their own countries and abroad, 25 million of whom are refugees. That's the highest number so far.

It is stressed that, in order to cope, we need a logical and comprehensible plan and global access. On this 70th anniversary of the Convention on Human Rights, as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we would like our Assembly to be remembered for the measures adopted on this tragic subject.

Ladies and gentlemen, the question that needs to be asked is whether we are really witnessing a refugee crisis or whether it is rather a crisis of collaboration and our failure to work together to manage migration. I think it is both. The sheer number of refugees around the world clearly shows that we are dealing with a profound crisis of collaboration. The refugee crisis is not just about numbers. It's about children and their stories. Because, in reality, statistics are human beings without the tears. There is a huge gap between what is being done and what is needed. More international cooperation and more concrete and effective action is therefore needed than ever before.

Colleagues, preventing disappearances is easier than finding missing children. Today, refugees fleeing for their lives are demonized and portrayed as horrible figures. What we really need is not fear and rejection, but focused, principled and targeted international action based on concrete solutions to draw attention to the fate of missing children and to give the problem as much visibility as possible.

Personalities from all sectors of society should be called upon: sportsmen and women, artists, celebrities, influencers... I ask all of you to consider, when you return home, how to raise awareness of this issue as widely as possible to stop the disappearance of children.

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

16:46:35

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Thank you, Ms Serap YAŞAR. You have 4 minutes remaining.

I now call Lord Don TOUHIG, the rapporteur, for the second opinion.

Lord Don TOUHIG, you have 3 minutes.

 

Lord Don TOUHIG

United Kingdom, SOC, Rapporteur for opinion, Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development 

16:46:45

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President, Colleagues, 

Can I immediately apologise for not being here at the start of the debate. I do apologise, I thought that the debate was starting a bit later. It is my fault entirely, and I meant no disrespect. 

Can I congratulate Ms Serap YAŞAR on this report and thank you for the way she willingly engaged and entered into discussions to consider the amendments that we put before her and also thanks to the Secretariat for all the hard work that they have done.

Across Europe, we have achieved much in recent years to mitigate the worst consequences of missing migrant refugee children. But we still have not done enough and this report gives us a way forward. It offers us a ray of hope that we can, working together, achieve much more.

Member states have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. These refugee children not only have need of our protection, they are entitled to it, as Ms Serap YAŞAR points out in her report. Who among us would deny a child the right of protection and a family life? Yet across our continent the health and well-being of unaccompanied refugee children is still being compromised. As we speak now, now at this minute, across our continent, hundreds, perhaps thousands of youngsters, are suffering; they are being abused, they are being trafficked, they are self-harming and, yes, indeed colleagues, some are taking their own lives and there is evidence of that.

And yet, in every parliament across Europe, there are members who are using toxic rhetoric about migration and displaying intolerance and prejudice, which violates the basic human rights, which we in this house are here to defend and protect. Political point-scoring about refugees, most especially refugee migrant children, should not be allowed to deny these children the help, the care, and yes indeed, the love that they would expect, a love we give to our own children and our own families.

I think I would ask you to do one thing. Heed the words of a former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, he said, "History will judge harshly those who sacrifice tomorrow for today". Those who sacrifice tomorrow for today. Short-term gains. We must have a long-term vision of support and protection for these children. This report, I believe, points us in the direction of progress and of hope and without both these aspirations - progress and hope - our continent, our Europe, will be the less.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

16:49:07

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Thank you Lord Don TOUHIG.

We now move to the list of speakers from the political groups.

The first of those is Mr Michel BRANDT from Germany for the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr Michel BRANDT, you have the floor.

Mr Michel BRANDT

Germany, UEL, Spokesperson for the group 

16:49:21

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Thank you very much.

I will first deal with the report on missing children of refugees and migrants in Europe. It's bad that people just disappear. But the fact that children disappear in such large numbers in Europe is not by chance and shows the deep crisis of humanity and solidarity in which we find ourselves.

We consider the report to be very necessary, unfortunately, although this report does not adequately identify the main reason which contributes to a large extent to the disappearance of children on the run: a completely wrong approach to people seeking protection, an asylum policy which creates isolation and deterrence. In principle, the treatment of persons seeking protection is becoming more stringent throughout Europe. Unfortunately, it is the logical consequence that children in particular suffer from this inhuman treatment.

All members of the Council of Europe are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and are, therefore, bound to safeguard the best interests of the child as a primary consideration and to afford him or her all the protection and care necessary for his or her well-being. The fact that this must be emphasised in the report clearly shows that the comprehensive implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the member states has not yet taken place sufficiently. On the contrary, in Germany, for example, the government only last year created the legal possibility to take children into custody pending deportation.

The majority of the missing children go into hiding on their own. The most common reasons for disappearance are a lack of prospects for a place to stay, fear of deportation or fear that relatives or friends live elsewhere. Most of them hide from the structures and institutions they are supposed to protect. This movement in the illegal space then makes it easier for criminal trafficking rings to make contact with them.

This shows very clearly how wrong state structures are often designed for people seeking protection. A European directive or regulation that unaccompanied minors be directly integrated into mainstream schooling, or the obligation to facilitate family reunification; this would be a preventive policy against the disappearance of children on the run

The impossibility of family reunification in an increasing number of countries is a blatant violation of children's rights and encourages many minors to go into hiding. I was at the Moria hotspot on Lesbos in September. In this completely run-down, overcrowded camp, the need is boundless. More than 2 000 unaccompanied minors live in inhuman conditions on the Greek islands. Here in Germany, civil society campaigns for reception failed and the offensive receptiveness of more than 120 municipalities failed due to the government's unwillingness to accept them. To this day, the situation is becoming more and more acute, but this hotspot policy of the EU is leading to children and young people withdrawing from state, and I really don't want to talk about "care" here.

The need for this report is a repeated warning signal to European asylum policy. Perhaps two more sentences on the report on concerted action against trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants: we think it is wrong to place too much emphasis on trafficking in human beings by traffickers because behind trafficking in human beings there are rings of organised crime and that must be named. Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

16:52:38

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Thank you Mr Michel BRANDT.

The next speaker is Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN from Finland for the Group of the European People's Party.

You have the floor.

Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN

Finland, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group 

16:52:46

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Mister President, dear colleagues,

Let me start by congratulating both rapporteurs on their important and very timely reports.

I will focus this intervention on the report on human trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labor, organ trafficking, forced marriage, illegal adoption, forced begging, and forced criminal activity. These horrible crimes happen in our countries every day. Every single day people are being sold as trade ware, used, thrown away under our watch.

This is a very profitable business. And unfortunately the profit is made at the cost of vulnerable people. We must admit that the number of reported cases of trafficking is only a scratch on the surface. In real life millions of people are victims of human trafficking. This number is simply too high. It should be zero.

We are talking about human beings, neighbors, sisters, and children. Imagine if it was a member of your family, a friend, or a person you know. Would you just stand by and let it happen? I don't think so. You wouldn't do that.

Mister President, this report clearly calls for action in our parliaments, in our governments. We open our eyes and react. This means the need too much better recognize the problem and to identify the victims.

In Finland the national rapporteur for human trafficking has introduced a victim identification mechanism used in all government agencies. This is a good start, but it is not enough. We need concerted action to support victims and to help them reintegrate into the society. We must also continue to raise awareness, to inform decision-makers of the situation, and train people to understand this awful phenomenon.

In order to put an end to human trafficking we must work together, and international cooperation is key in fighting this problem. However, we must make sure that those people working with this issue, they are reliable and trustworthy. Actually victims will not approach aid workers or authorities if there is a lack of trust and understanding.

Mister President, dear colleagues, we must stop human trafficking and the only way is to do it together, right now.

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

16:55:32

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Thank you Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN.

Next from Turkey, Ms Selin SAYEK BÖKE.

Ms Selin SAYEK BÖKE

Turkey, SOC, Spokesperson for the group 

16:55:38

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Thank you very much Mr President.

We have two very timely reports. I deeply congratulate the rapporteurs.

The ILO estimates that there are 40 million people in modern slavery today prone to human trafficking.

UN reports that one registered migrant child is reported dead or missing every day worldwide for the past five years.

Human trafficking is nothing but exploitation. Migrants, especially women and children, face the highest risk. Children also face the risk of going missing.

Therefore it is our obligation and responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. But an even more urgent application we face is to change the human made world order that is indeed leading to these outcomes, these awful hideous outcomes that we are discussing.

We need to focus on ensuring that the need for protection actually doesn't materialise. Instead of focusing on the ex-post, we should focus on the ex-ante, or do both at least at the same time.

Exploitation, forced deprivation of rights, children going missing is not fate. They are the outcome of the world order we build, so we should change the world that we actually build. We should tackle the root causes of these hideous problems. The root causes which include, but are clearly not limited to, conflict, poverty and neoliberalism. That is nothing but the marketisation of everything including human lives.

I invite you to walk through a journey. Assume, just assume that a conflict arises in your very own home town. The state or the society are unable to provide the much needed protection. You are forced to flee. This puts you at huge risks.

The solution is clear. Let's end all conflicts and violations. Let us as politicians focus instead proactively on building peace wherever we can.

Let's go back to the journey. You are now on the move, still at risk. The risk of becoming stateless, losing all access to legitimate forms of labour, losing all of your very basic human rights.

The solution is clear. Let's build strong welfare states. Let's stand against austerity. Let's change the neo-liberal world order. Let's ensure fundamental rights for all human beings.

Back to the journey. You now have made it to a new geography. You hope to call it home, but you find yourself trapped at the mercy of opportunists and at the mercy of politicians who are shamelessly willing to negotiate political deals via your very own human dignity.

The solution is clear. We put an end to all hypocritical political deals that instrumentalise and ride roughshod over human lives. We stop political shows of tearing apart our national flags in parliaments. We change politics.

We have a lot to do, and these two reports are the steps in the right direction.

I congratulate the rapporteurs.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

16:58:48

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Thank you,

The next speaker, from Ukraine, is Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK for the ALDE group.

Please.

Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group 

16:58:57

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Thank you Mr Chairman,

Distinguished members of the Assembly,

Dear guests,

I congratulate both rapporteurs on the excellent reports. I will stop on Mr COAKER's report. He managed to pull together many-sided data and draw conclusions aimed at strengthening the rule of law, democracy and human rights across Europe in the understanding of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Europe has become a major destination for migrants long ago and the Assembly underlined in its numerous and recommendations that unfortunately migrants often tend to be targets for exploitation by human traffickers and smugglers.

ALDE group is fully supportive of messages and instruments recommended for both the Committee of Ministers and the member states in drafts, which we are considering now. Though I have to draw the attention of the members of the Assembly to hidden factors that inevitably lead to the growing number of victims of human trafficking. These are threats which we, unfortunately, witness on the territories suffering from protracted military conflicts or frozen conflicts across the continent.

For people residing in non-government-controlled areas and frozen conflict zones, obtaining birth certificates and other life important documents is a painful and even dangerous process. Risk of statelessness is the growing challenge in protracted conflicts, hitting the teenage population the most. People without internationally-recognised identification documents are easy targets for human traffickers.

The Assembly should undertake the concerted actions navigated by two UN instruments of international law: the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. I would like to underline what the Assembly's Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination draws attention to. Human trafficking disproportionally affects women. 71 per cent of victims are women and girls according to a study published by the European Parliament in 2016.

This problem must be particularly addressed by both delegations at the national level, national parliaments and the Assembly as a whole. That is why it is of vital importance for us to unite our efforts in finding the solutions for these particular groups of people, using all legal remedies for the international community. Our suggestion, on behalf of the ALDE group, would be to strengthen the sanctions against all forms of human trafficking in all international law instruments and to recommend for the member states to do the same at the level of national legislation. We have to put an end to this shameful phenomena of human trafficking across Europe. 

Thank you. 

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:01:56

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Thank you Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK.

From the United Kingdom, for the European Conservatives Group, Lord Alexander DUNDEE.

The floor is yours.

Lord Alexander DUNDEE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group 

17:02:05

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Mr President, I join others in congratulating this joint debate's four rapporteurs on their excellent contributions towards two reports which we now consider.

As current Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Refugee and Migrant Children and Young People, and in focusing upon missing refugees and migrant children, I will briefly connect together three prescriptions.

Firstly, among our 47 states, the case for greater collective preparedness to acknowledge responsibility and to take necessary actions.

Secondly, the need for much better arrangements for safe passage and guardianship.

Thirdly, that for increased deployment of the Dubs initiative. This is a scheme for voluntary relocation of migrants in need of humanitarian protection.

There are forty thousand migrants on Greek Islands with some refugee camps operating at ten times their capacity. Almost 4 000 unaccompanied child migrants in Greece now live in extremely difficult conditions. They could be protected and cared for if every Council of Europe member state each agreed to receive about a hundred children.

However in the first place, national parliaments and governments must want and decide to do this.

Here our own Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons members can help with persuasion and coordination. This is through dialoguing with their respective national parliaments then at regular intervals and Strasbourg reporting back on progress made.

Nation states must not pass the buck implying, as they often do, that this is someone else's problem and not theirs. Instead they have to work with the Council of Europe to provide solutions. Only then will the numbers of missing children and the instance of smuggling start to diminish so that instead competent expedients are put in place. These have to guarantee safe routes and legal ways for children to reach either their families or else trusted guardians.

The Dubs initiative is named after a Holocaust survivor and former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who arrived in the United Kingdom in 1939 at the age of six on the kindertransport. Within two years, the latter intervention saved nearly 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Now 80 years later the Dubs scheme of voluntary relocation has recently enabled 480 unaccompanied migrant children to reach safe homes in the United Kingdom from travelling points in Greece, France and Italy.

The Parliamentary Assembly should therefore look at ways to extend voluntary relocation to safe homes within all our different Council of Europe countries so that similar projects can be adopted nationally, reflecting good practice, such as that among others already demonstrated by the non-government organisation Safe Passage and the Turkish Red Crescent - Red Cross.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:04:57

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Thank you Lord Alexander DUNDEE. The rapporteurs will of course reply at the end of the debate, but does Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ wish to respond at this stage? Do you wish? No. Thank you.

Does Ms Serap YAŞAR wish to respond at this stage? No.

Thank you very much. Right, we now move to the general list and the first speaker on that list, from France, is Mr André REICHARDT. Monsieur, you have the floor.

Mr André REICHARDT

France, EPP/CD 

17:05:30

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Mr Speaker, ladies and gentlemen,

I, too, wish to thank our fellow rapporteurs for their important work, which enables us to address two themes that are strongly interlinked: on the one hand, concerted action against trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants; on the other hand, the disappearance of refugee or migrant children in Europe.

The reports remind us that the Council of Europe, and in particular our Assembly, has long been interested in these issues.

Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits trafficking in human beings, as confirmed by the European Court in its case law.

Our Assembly has adopted several resolutions: in 2013, on trafficking in migrants for forced labour; in 2014, on prostitution, trafficking and modern slavery in Europe; and in 2016, on the harmonisation of the protection of unaccompanied minors in Europe.

The stakes are high, since, according to the words of a Europol official in 2016, quoted in one of the reports, around 10 000 migrant or refugee minors are said to have disappeared in Europe. The large waves of migration since then are likely to lead to even more impressive figures today.

Respect for the human person and the protection of those who are more vulnerable, namely minors, are cardinal values of Europe. This is obviously to be welcomed. But we must give them all their strength!

As stated in one of the draft resolutions, "there is no lack of analysis, but rather a willingness to make things happen".

I welcome the decision of the G7 interior ministers, taken in Paris in April 2019, to strengthen operational cooperation and the exchange of information through Europol. This operational cooperation is obviously an essential element, all the more essential, as we know, since the financial flows generated by this trafficking in human beings are fuelling terrorism in many of our countries.

With the same objective in mind, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided in May 2019 in Helsinki to examine ways of strengthening the fight against trafficking in human beings: this is obviously excellent news and we can only welcome it.

But we must go beyond that, and that is the whole point of the debate we are having today: as parliamentarians, we must exercise vigilance and control so that the announcements made by governments are actually followed up. When there are no announcements, let the announcements take place!

I therefore thank our colleagues for allowing us to keep up the pressure that is so necessary to safeguard our values and I particularly welcome the proposal to establish a parliamentary network of collaboration in this respect, collaboration, of course, with our Assembly.

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:08:24

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Thank you Mr André REICHARDT.

The next speaker is, from the United Kingdom, Ms Kerry MCCARTHY.

Ms Kerry MCCARTHY

United Kingdom, SOC 

17:08:31

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Thank you Sir Roger GALE.

I want to start by paying tribute to Mr Vernon COAKER. He did tremendous work in the UK Parliament on trafficking and also on this report, and it's a great shame that because of our recent election he cannot be here today to present it.

I represent Bristol, a port city whose fortunes were built on the triangular slave trade.

Bristol merchants financed over two thousand journeys by ship carrying more than half a million enslaved human beings many of whom died on the voyage.

We would all now condemn the horrors of the slave trade. We would all now say that this must never be allowed to happen again and yet it is happening as this report shows.

The report highlights the vulnerability of trafficked children and calls for them to be treated as victims not criminals. This right should extend into adulthood too. I want to illustrate this with the case of Samet who lives near Bristol. As a child in Albania, Samet was beaten and abused and by the age of 11 he was begging on the streets. It's not surprising he fell prey to traffickers. Age 15 he was found in the back of a lorry entering the UK.

As an unaccompanied child he was granted leave to remain but only until he turned 18. Now as an adult he's been forced to reapply. His application was refused. His appeal has been rejected. His case is still in the courts, but he's facing the threat of imminent deportation to a country where his supporters say it is not safe for him to return.

His supporters are many. His foster father, John Stokes, started a petition which was presented to the Home Secretary last week. It has nearly 400 000 signatures.

We're talking about a young man who now has a stable home with his foster father and foster brothers who unsurprisingly, given the traumas of his childhood, suffers from PTSD. He worked hard, did well at school and is now studying carpentry.

There are many other Samets out there. Although Albania does not seem to recognise them as a problem and the UK government does not show compassion.

This report ends by saying "economic, racial and gender prejudices are the unarticulated premise for the neglectful way in which national laws and policies respond to this widespread criminal phenomenon". I believe that this is true that it is economic, racial and gender prejudices that underpin this. That is why this terrible trade in people, this modern day slavery is still allowed to persist.

Our national governments must aspire to do much much better and much much more to prevent trafficking and to protect its victims.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:11:07

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Thank you,  Ms Kerry MCCARTHY. From Luxembourg Mr Gusty GRAAS, please.

Mr Gusty GRAAS

Luxembourg, ALDE 

17:11:12

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Mr Speaker, dear colleagues,

Trafficking in human beings is a vast field: it ranges from sexual exploitation to labour exploitation and forced services. This is, unfortunately, a cross-border phenomenon that is constantly evolving.

In addition to the traditional physical world, there is now the virtual world, which offers enormous opportunities for criminal networks. The Internet and technological developments are contributing to the creation of new and permanent forms of criminal activity. Because of the ease of using social networks or ad sites, accessible to all, traffickers can recruit their victims to provide broader services.

Apart from the fight against this scourge in the physical world, international cooperation in the fields of technology and open source intelligence should therefore be intensified in the first instance, while exchanging best practices in this field.

Let me give you a good example of cross-border cooperation, which, although territorially limited, is nonetheless very effective. Indeed, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, united since 1944 in the Benelux, have been working to combat trafficking in human beings. On 2 December 2016, a Declaration of Intent containing actions and measures to strengthen cooperation in the fight against trafficking in human beings was signed by the three Member States.

In addition, the Benelux Interparliamentary Assembly, of which I am pleased to be the current President, at its plenary session on 6 December 2019 in Luxembourg, voted recommendations on this issue in the virtual world. It was decided to focus on the most vulnerable people, namely minors and young people, by providing information in schools and deploying protection and resilience programmes in social networks. The Assembly is of the opinion that there is a need to work more in partnership with private companies, civil society organisations, municipalities and universities. In addition, investment in expertise and innovation in survey services is necessary to maintain the level of knowledge. It is also necessary to cooperate in the development of legal frameworks and instruments enabling investigating authorities to cooperate across borders and, inter alia, to use Internet data as evidence in criminal investigations or cases.

The example of Benelux shows to what extent intensive consultation and collaboration between several countries can contribute to effectively combating the scourge of human trafficking. Benelux even intends to extend its cooperation to non-member countries, such as the Baltic and Nordic countries.

Finally, I can only support the proposed resolution and recommendation and I take this opportunity to congratulate the two rapporteurs, Mr Vernon Coaker and Mrs Serap YAŞAR, on their excellent work.

Thank you. Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:14:25

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Thank you, Mr Gusty GRAAS.

Now, from Armenia we should hear from Mr Ruben RUBINYAN, please.

You have the floor.

Mr Ruben RUBINYAN? He was here. No.

In that case the next speaker is from Austria, Mr Stefan SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:14:47

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Thank you, Mr President.

Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen,

I too would like to start by expressing my sincere thanks for these excellent reports and, above all, for not being afraid to call a spade a spade. For that is the modern slavery that we are experiencing here, and not all states react to it in the same intelligent way, I have to say that this also applies to member states. For example, in forced prostitution, the passports of the victims are taken away; such victims are released, and some states deports the victims because they do not have a passport. Then there is a trial, according to the paragraph on slavery, and mostly the perpetrators walk out of this trial free, because there is no victim. The victim has been deported.

In this context, it is no wonder that one of the rapporteurs comes from the United Kingdom, from Great Britain, because there it is exactly the opposite. Any woman who enters the field of forced prostitution and does not have a passport is protected in Britain until the trial is over; and that is why Britain is particularly successful here. What is added, of course, is the form of forced labour. I will not hide the fact that there are also some embassies of other countries that employ people in forced labour.

Tomorrow, I will talk at length about the organ trade that goes with it. Forced marriage; my spokesman from Luxembourg has just spoken of this cooperation — in the case of forced marriage in particular, I would like to highlight the cooperation between Denmark and Sweden. The respective threatened people get a new identity in the respective other country. This is exemplary and protects so many young girls from being forced into marriage, but at a high price: that they never have contact with their family again in their lives.

When we come to the missing migrant and refugee children, our former Secretary General Thorbjörn JAGLAND, issued an alarm call at that time and that spoke about 16 000 missing children, and we will probably get much closer to that. We have set up a working group on missing children in my Parliament and there are already over 400 of them in Austria alone; and we are not a large country. Germany has about 9 000. If we take a closer look at this, and I did so very intensively at the time — I believe I have already spoken about it here too — if we look from country to country at what the legislation is like; when a child is missing and when it is not, it is so different. For example, in a neighbouring country, if the child does not respond after two days, it is simply removed from the list. That can't be it.

It is in this spirit that we need these actions, and I therefore warmly congratulate these two reports.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:18:20

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Thank you Mr Stefan SCHENNACH.

Could I gently say to colleagues that I'm likely to have to curtail the debate in terms of speakers from the floor at six o'clock, in order to accommodate the wind-up speeches and the votes.

That looks as though, at the moment, we should probably only reach number 18 on the speaker's list.

That advanced warning may be useful to you. It does depend upon whether or not speakers run over time.

If you can curtail your speeches to the appropriate time, that will help others.

Baroness Doreen MASSEY, from the United Kingdom.

Baroness Doreen MASSEY, the floor is yours.

Baroness Doreen MASSEY

United Kingdom, SOC 

17:18:56

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Thank you, Mr President.

These are two very important reports, we must not ever take our eyes off this vital issue of protecting child migrants, especially unaccompanied migrants. I mean, we must be vigilant about the ramifications attendant on human trafficking and smuggling.

As my colleague, Ms Kerry MCCARTHY, has said earlier, my colleague Mr Vernon COAKER was responsible the first report and has put so much effort into it. He's not here due to one of those vagaries of an election. I know that we are all very sad to have lost such an active, damnably, committed MP and member of PACE. His report is clear and powerful. It emphasises, in particular, that national parliaments are absolutely key to any attempts to tackle trafficking and child migration, and that legal standards must be adequate and implemented by all member states.

It's not just the act of trafficking that needs attention, it is the horrendous risks that come with trafficking: forced marriage, illegal adoption, torture, extortion, sexual exploitation and abuse. The report we saw speaks also of trafficking in sports, an other area where physical and verbal violence and harassment may occur.

We have research and analysis on all this. Many national organisations, including the UN the Council of Europe, have powerfully expressed their concerns. Voluntary sector organisations provide, repeatedly, examples of the horrendous nature of trafficking's aftermath, particularly on women and children. These reports are a call to action.

The UK has recently debated again, during the EU Withdrawal Bill, the issue of unaccompanied children and family reunification. Some of us are very fearful about what the issue of Brexit might bring with it, although we are told a new immigration bill will address these uncertainties.

Resource and determined efforts by the international community and the individual countries need to be made and sustained all the way. Along this line of danger, we must make special efforts. By line of danger, I mean from when trafficking begins, from stepping onto a boat, to providing dignified care in camps or other refugee placements and to fair considerations of status by governments.

Colleagues, the report recommends that members of our Parliamentary Assembly should cooperate more actively. For example, establishing a collaborative anti-trafficking network of parliamentarians, which should include parliamentarians from other countries beyond Europe in close partnership with NGOs. That seems to me to be a very practical and sensible approach.

These two reports are a profound recognition of the problems and the need for action and I commend both rapporteurs.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:21:49

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Thank you Baroness Doreen MASSEY.

From Armenia, Mr Mikayel MELKUMYAN, please.

The floor is yours.

Mr Mikayel MELKUMYAN

Armenia, EC/DA 

17:21:55

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Mr. Speaker,

Dear colleagues,

The subject of our discussion today is very topical, but I do not know if we can seek and find an effective solution. It is very difficult.

The governments of the member states of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe must do what is necessary to prevent the disappearance of millions of refugee and migrant children worldwide. It's in the best interests of the children.

As all member states of the Council of Europe are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, they must therefore defend their interests. The conditions of reception of these children as well as their care must comply with fundamental human rights.

Children, whether they are refugees or not, have the right to live in decent conditions so as not to lose their health and suffer psychological crises. What happened in 2016 during the Four Day War in April when the Azerbaijani military bombed the Armenian civilian areas of Nagorno-Karabakh. These scoundrels targeted schools. One 12-year-old Armenian boy died and dozens of schoolchildren were injured.

Has an adequate legal and political assessment been given to these crimes?

Dear colleagues, it is clear that such a crime must not be forgiven. Ramil SAFAROV is a hero in Azerbaijan. The state organizing this heroism is not to be forgiven. Yes, this practice exists in the international legal convention and it must be applied. On the other hand, presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 31 March. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh are ready and you will see what democracy is all about.

Yes, it's a well-constituted step with a state institution. We'll talk about that later in April.

Dear colleagues, today, this morning, our colleague from the delegation of Azerbaijan said something very odd, that the situation in Azerbaijan is unstable and the various problems, the main causes of which are the existence of an occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. No, and again no! This argument is artificial and I think that we must always, together with you, give a legal and political assessment.

Thank you for your attention.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:25:03

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Thank you, Mr Mikayel MELKUMYAN.

Now Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA, from Ukraine.

Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:25:09

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Thank you.

Dear President.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I think I've written my speech at least five times, because today we're speaking about a very sensitive topic which unites, not only this Assembly, but the whole world.

I'm not going to bore you with the reminders of the resolutions that we voted upon and other international documents. However, it is very important to remember that we're not talking today only about men and women. We're also talking about children.

There are many ways of exploitation. We're talking about labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, mixed exploitation and begging, which my colleagues also mentioned.

Therefore I would like to refer to trafficking in human beings as defined in article 3.a. of the Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, supplemented in the United Nations convention against transnational organised crime.

Because the topic of these reports is crime, we try to tackle all the crime that takes place in every region of the world. These activities are the fastest growing criminal activities, compared with drug spreading and other things in the world. It is the third highest in terms of profits after selling, as I've mentioned, drugs and weapons.

What is very important is that the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings entered into force on February 1st 2008, as you know. I would like to remind you that every state that is represented in this House and the Council of Europe has ratified it, except one state. Addressing trafficking in human beings, including migrants, demands a multi-agency approach, it demands involvement in close coordination between relevant government agencies, non-governmental organisations, regional and national organisations, covering different activities in criminal justice, judicial engagement on human rights and development.

I would like to remind us all that today we're not talking only about the trafficking of human beings, but also the reasons which led to this massive disaster, which was a refugee crisis. I want to remind us all that, in figures, such countries as Lebanon and Turkey, starting from the very beginning of this crisis up until today, hosted more than the whole European Union, more refugees.

Therefore, I call us all to support the joint initiatives of our colleagues.

Thank you for your attention.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:28:10

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Thank you very much indeed.

Now, from Spain, Mr Jokin BILDARRATZ please.

Mr Jokin BILDARRATZ

Spain, ALDE 

17:28:19

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Thank you very much, Mr President.

I think I can express gratitude for everything that has been said and especially for what the rapporteurs have said in their reports and in these debates.

I want to stress two points made by Ms Serap YAŞAR, prompting us to reflect on what's happening. I understand that the response to that question is that we're looking but not seeing.

We're not seeing the eyes of the individuals to whom you refer. We're not seeing the suffering of all the families and girls and boys who are in a predicament where they're not protected. We do not see the suffering endured every day by each and every one of them.

Someone mentioned what's happening in Greece. You can see the media coverage of what's happening in Greece. As in Chios. The NGOs are already abandoning the islands and the refugees are being left to their own devices. 2,000 of them are children and 250 of them are babies.

One of the points made, which I think is particularly interesting and was spelled out, is that we all need to get more involved. It's not enough for us to adopt resolutions here and then go back to our countries. We need to come forward with initiatives and proposals for proactive steps by our governments, commitments and initiatives. Populism is taking up much more of the public debate through demagoguery. Political parties are being turned into electoral machines. The children, the girls and boys, those who are unprotected, continue to suffer while they prepare for elections.

I'm going to support these reports for three reasons.

Firstly, because of an ethical stand.

Secondly, because it demonstrates a preventative approach.

And thirdly because it takes a proactive approach.

Exploitation of teenagers through alcohol abuse, prostitution and so on, highlights a grave problem of lack of protection. Girls and boys are not responsible. They're victims.

I conclude by saying that if we lose our ability to work, to react and to suffer, because all of these are left unprotected, if that day comes, we will realise we do not deserve to be here.

 

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:31:48

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Is Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW here?

He is not in his seat, allocated.

No, Okay, thank you.

In that case, Mr Franz Leonhard ESSL, please.

Mr Franz Leonhard ESSL

Austria, EPP/CD 

17:32:04

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Thank you, Mr Chairman.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we are debating this report 1523 on concerted action against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, this is a serious violation of human rights and a serious violation of human dignity.

 

But the facts say; trafficking in human beings takes place anyway. Criminals and criminal organisations take advantage of people's plight in order to make a profit. According to UNODC estimates, we are talking about 32 billion US dollars annually. We also know that trafficking in human beings mainly affects women, girls and children in general. It is about exploitation at work, and more recently also about the removal of organs, organ trafficking or prostitution.

We are talking about serious violations of human dignity, we are talking about very serious crimes. What must we do? Firstly, comprehensive protection for victims, secondly, severe penalties for offenders, and thirdly, cross-border cooperation and exchange of information between authorities. We also have different terms, we in Austria say the smuggling of migrants, not trafficking. Here, too, the greed for profit of trafficking organisations is in the foreground; and this must be fought.

 

However, it is often the case here that these are not people who have to fear for their life and limb and who are threatened; they are not just sitting at home but rather are persuaded by the trafficking organisations and who are sometimes told by the media, social networks and sometimes by politicians that there is a better life in other parts of the world. And they often pay 7,000/8,000 euros and place themselves in the hands of these tugboats.

The increasing number of cases shows this is a catastrophe; and yes, we have to rescue people who are in danger, but it is just as important to make our task clear here too, that not everyone who is rescued in distress at sea automatically has the right to enter Europe freely. Because if everyone who wants to come to Europe comes to Europe, then Europe too will be overtaxed. And we know at least from our country that not of all those migrants or asylum seekers who come to us, in the end, deserve it: after the asylum procedures have been completed, only one third can prove the real reasons for asylum and two thirds do not really have real reasons for asylum and must actually be rejected. It is difficult to determine and we need systems for exchanging information to achieve this.

 

The aim must therefore be that as few people as possible set off for Europe. We achieve this by helping resolve problems in the crisis regions. But we also support this if we do not raise expectations that ultimately cannot be fulfilled. And finally, a consistent approach and tougher penalties for traffickers and trafficking organisations are necessary.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:35:36

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Thank you, Mr Franz Leonhard ESSL.

From Cyprus, Ms Christiana EROTOKRITOU, please.

Ms Christiana EROTOKRITOU

Cyprus, SOC 

17:35:43

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Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues, I would like to thank the two rapporteurs whose reports were debating here today. In exposing these issues, that are global in nature, we can seek ways to improve the conditions in our own countries, where we are more familiar with the structures in place and remaining difficulties.

Both debates deal with persons who are inherently vulnerable. It is important to bear this in mind, because vulnerable people, such as victims of trafficking and migrant children, require specific measures that address their vulnerability and exposure to risk. In other words, our member states policy responses in terms of legislation and capacities is also an indication of the quality of our welfare systems and our attachment to human rights and the prevalence of human dignity. I wish to commend this Assembly for always showcasing and defending the rights of the most vulnerable, exposed and marginalised persons in our societies.

As my good friend Baroness Doreen MASSEY pointed out a few minutes ago, now national parliaments play a crucial role in fighting trafficking. That is why I am very proud to say that the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus has recently approved one of the most strict – on a European level – legal frameworks, criminalising all those involved, either directly or indirectly, in the process of trafficking. The expression of ignorance of the victim status can no longer be considered an alleviating factor in court proceedings.

Additionally, this law renders the fines for those implicated in human trafficking much more severe, with life sentences applicable when the victims are children. Every civilised state has a moral obligation to enact legislation effectively redressing the numerous discriminations and inequalities that, unfortunately, persist in many societies, that perpetrate patterns of abuse and exploitation. This must end and women, in particular, together with children, must be protected against all forms of violence.

As regards missing refugee persons in Europe, I would firstly like to endorse the draft resolution and recommendation and recall that all children should be able to thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. We must ensure that migrant and refugee children, whose circumstances have been aggravated, receive even more protection. These children are at a high risk of exploitation, trafficking and multiple discrimination. As this report documents, thousands have disappeared on reaching Europe with no trace. Their disappearance is a direct consequence of the many loopholes in our child protection structures and our fragmented policies.

Cyprus, who has the highest percentage – in proportion to its population – of influx of migrants in Europe as a host country, realised it needed to effectively adopt structures and procedures to cater to the constant influx of refugees and migrants. Despite limited resources and capacities, despite the scarce support and aid we received from our European partners. An efficient guardianship system, focusing on migrant and refugee children's best interests, has been put into place. These children, who have suffered persistent violations of their human rights, call for the highest possible level of care and protection. Members of the Parliamentary campaign of PACE to end the immigration detention of children had the opportunity to visit Cyprus last year and engage in fruitful dialogue with all relevant stakeholders. 

Thank you. 

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:39:03

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Thank you Ms Christiana EROTOKRITOU.

Ms Sahiba GAFAROVA from Azerbaijan.

Ms Sahiba GAFAROVA

Azerbaijan, EC/DA 

17:39:12

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Ladies and gentlemen, first of all I'd like to congratulate my dear colleague Ms Serap YAŞAR and the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons for this very important report. It is timely needed.

During the last years in this very Assembly we have discussed many reports on migrants, refugees and IDP issues.

I believe that the topic of this report is one of the most important because it's about children. Children which are missing during this very difficult time in terms of migration.

It is well known that migrant asylum seeking children are particularly vulnerable and are therefore in need of special protection against the multiple dangers they face along the journey: violence, human trafficking and exploitation. The rapporteur is right mentioning that many forms of violence against migrant and refugee children lead to their disappearance. That also awaits those whose trace is lost if they vanish into clandestine networks which remove them ever further from the protection and care to which they are entitled, first and foremost as children, then as migrants and refugees.

It should be mentioned that missing refugee and migrant children are not an homogeneous group. There are maybe various reasons for their disappearance as well as different vulnerabilities. This makes this very difficult to analyse this phenomenon and draw a conclusion leading to concrete political and legal initiatives to protect refugee and migrant children from going missing.

One of the main features of the report is that Ms Serap YAŞAR distinguishes the main characteristics of missing refugee and migrant children which have lead to their disappearance by the different categories. Age categories, accompanied or unaccompanied minors, voluntary and involuntary disappearances, registered and undocumented minors.

Dear colleagues, the issue of missing children is very sensitive for me because I am from the country, from Azerbaijan, where we have one million refugees and IDPs as the result of the occupation of 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan by Armenia.

Some minutes ago my colleague from Armenia spoke here. I think he forgot about that his country is a occupant country because Armenia occupied Azerbaijani territory. During this occupation thousands of children were killed and thousands of children were missing children.

Ladies and gentlemen, refugee migrant children, IDP children should be not missing. There is a need for an effective strategy to prevent it.

Legal assistance in cross-border cooperation between the relevant national and regional authorities, including the police, should be a key element of this strategy. The Council of Europe has a long experience in facilitating such cooperation in Europe and creating the necessary foundation for it and international law.

I fully agree with Ms Serap YAŞAR that we as parliamentarians working under the roof of the Council of Europe should use its unique experience to establish a basis for cooperation on the issue of missing migrant refugee children for whom it is presently not even possible to determine figures.

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:42:31

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Thank you, Ms Sahiba GAFAROVA and also from Azerbaijan Mr Nagif HAMZAYEV, please. 

Mr Nagif HAMZAYEV

Azerbaijan, NR 

17:42:38

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Mr President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Throughout our history the European continent has always been a place of destination for thousands of people from all around the world for better living conditions. Recent changes in world politics have resulted in the massive inflow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa. According to the United Nations, one in three migrant children was reported dead or missing every day between 2014 and 2018 worldwide. I think this is insane. Many forms of violence against these children lead to their disappearance as they vanish into gang networks. I'm especially concerned with this topic because, back home in Azerbaijan, we have around 1 million people who have had to abandon their homes due to occupation of our lands and aggression by Armenia and around 40 per cent of these people were children.

Dear Colleagues,

This report sheds light on the truly global nature of childhood migration, highlighting the major challenges faced by child migrants and refugees in Europe and I would like to thank all the rapporteurs for their contribution. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that migrant children are at risk of some of their worst forms of abuse and harm. Often dependent on human smuggling, they can easily fall victim to traffickers and other criminals. Many are subjected to extreme forms of abuse and deprivation during their journey. These violations have to stop. If these children reach their destination countries, they face new threats.

Refugee and migrant children disproportionately face poverty and exclusion at a time when they are in desperate need of essential services and protection. I'd like to know 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 interest of children as their primary condition. Supporting displaced and migrant children at home and globally is a shared responsibility because no one is untouched by the impact of this crisis.

Finally, I would like to touch upon a specific group of migrant children: undocumented children. They are extremely vulnerable because they lack the protection of the law. In order to prevent them from becoming undocumented, we together should ensure that every undocumented migrant child is registered and identified by the authorities.

Thank you for your attention.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:45:35

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Thank you Mr Nagif HAMZAYEV.

It is now a pleasure to welcome one of the observers of the Assembly of the Council of Europe.

From Canada, Ms Gwen BONIFACE please.

Ms Gwen BONIFACE

Canada 

17:45:46

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Thank you Mr Chair.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important discussion.

I'll focus my comments particularly on human trafficking as a significant global problem that affects all countries: developed, developing, rich, and poor. Indeed, all countries represented here today, including Canada, are countries of origin, transit or destination for trafficking in human beings.

Conservative estimates indicate that more than 25 million people worldwide are currently exploited by human traffickers in one of its various forms: labour trafficking, sex trafficking or state-imposed trafficking.

What’s more, the United Nations reports that this number is on the rise. While states are making progress in identifying survivors of human trafficking and collecting data on this problem, effective prosecution of perpetrators remains both challenging and elusive. As one previous speaker indicated, this is often connected to organised crime.

Human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation is the most prevalent form of trafficking worldwide, as well as in Europe and North America. Women and girls constitute the vast majority of these victims.

Migrants and refugees are particularly at risk of being exploited by traffickers due to their lack of access to resources, community and protection. It is not surprising, then, that the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe has exasperated the extent of human trafficking in the continent, particularly among women and children.

The phenomenon of child trafficking in the context of the migration crisis is particularly alarming. As you have all indicated, unaccompanied and separated children have been arriving in shockingly high numbers, presenting the perfect target for traffickers.

Canada, too, is no stranger to human trafficking. As with the rest of the world, human trafficking in Canada is on the rise. The vast majority of victims are young women trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation. Roughly half of these women in Canada are Indigenous, despite the fact that they're only 4% of the population. Forced labour exploitation is also evident, primarily affecting migrant workers.

In 2019, the Government of Canada unveiled its five-year National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking. The strategy builds on existing measures to prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute offenders and introduces a new focus area of empowerment to provide survivors with tools to regain their independence and dignity. Canada also established the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline in 2018 to help survivors access vital services and support. This hotline has received a significant number of calls.

It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure we implement strategies and legislation to prevent human trafficking, protect its victims, and equally important, bring its perpetrators to justice.

I thank you for the opportunity to give my input.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:48:56

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Thank you very much Ms Gwen BONIFACE. The next speaker is from France, Ms Laurence TRASTOUR-ISNART. Madame, you have the floor.

Ms Laurence TRASTOUR-ISNART

France, EPP/CD 

17:49:04

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Mr Speaker, dear colleagues,

I would like to thank the respective rapporteurs for these two texts. The debate before us concerns in particular two sadly topical issues: the disappearance of refugee or migrant children in Europe and trafficking in human beings.

This is a serious and worrying problem.

However, we focus mainly on the children's stay in Europe and do not include their journey to Europe. That's unfortunate. This trip is dangerous, even deadly. Refugee and migrant children did not arrive in Europe by chance.

They got there with the help of criminal smugglers' networks, who stripped them and put them in miserable boats. They have been exposed to criminal networks during the journey or forced into violence, sexual abuse and sometimes enslavement. Some of them never arrived in Europe and died before.

In the last five years, 18 000 men, women and children have drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean. They were killed because of individuals who exploit human misery.

It is against them that we must fight. For this to happen, the Council of Europe must invite member states to define a new multilateral legal framework for working with the states on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. The European States must be called upon to set up a joint intervention force to prevent smugglers from carrying out their evil activities and to impose a blockade on them at the ports of departure.

Sensitive access points must be set up to ensure that asylum applications are made in the migrants' countries of origin. The problem must be tackled at its roots, the "slavers" of modern times must be combated and asylum claims must be outsourced to the country of origin. Member States should also not be encouraged to have a lax migration policy. Refugee children who are "really minors" should be helped until a solution is found, but they should not be encouraged to migrate. I stress the term "genuinely minor" because some adults present themselves as unaccompanied minors in order to avoid any removal order.

We must not push European states to have a migration policy that encourages young people to take excessive risks in order to cross the Mediterranean.

I regret that the European Court of Human Rights imposes a dangerous interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights. I regret that it encourages the regularisation of illegal immigrants or prevents the expulsion of foreigners who are a threat to national security.

So let's stop with the angelicism and the guilt, let's fight these criminal smugglers. Let us fight against illegal immigration, so that the Mediterranean is not the coffin of children and no longer sheds tears of blood!

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:52:05

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Thank you Ms Laurence TRASTOUR-ISNART.

And also from France Ms Nicole TRISSE.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE 

17:52:12

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Thank you, Mr President.

Thank you for the debate, really.

Thank you for this debate on the fight against trafficking in human beings and the disappearance of refugee or migrant children in Europe. In this respect, I would like to welcome the commitment of all the rapporteurs to combat these modern-day scourges that affect a considerable number of people on our continent.

The numbers, alas, speak for themselves. In 2017, the International Labour Organization estimated that there were 25 million victims of forced labour and 15 million victims of forced marriage. In the European Union alone, cases of trafficking in human beings would amount to several tens or even hundreds of thousands, estimates are by definition difficult.

It is no coincidence that these victims are most often women and children, mostly migrants or refugees. Their vulnerability is unfortunately proven and it exposes them to all sorts of dangers.

As has already been said by other Members, their exploitation, by mafia networks or criminal networks for despicable profit-making purposes, takes forms that are unfortunately well known. Prostitution, domestic servitude, hard labour in disregard of the most basic rights, forced begging, organ harvesting: unfortunately, this is the lot of too many people whose only fault is that they wanted to live a better life as migrants or who were unable to benefit from the protection of a loving family.

As the rapporteur of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population Mr Vernon COAKER explained very well, there are already tools in international or European law to combat and punish trafficking in our fellow human beings, in all its aspects. In addition, States devote substantial resources to the police and judicial fight against the channels and networks that thrive on this misery.

For my part, I am pleased that my country, France, adopted on 18 October its second national action plan against human trafficking, which was set as a priority by our Government. I am also pleased that, under the French presidency of the G7 in April 2019, the interior ministers of the most industrialised countries have decided to strengthen operational cooperation and the exchange of information in this area, via Interpol.

However, effective public action against these phenomena depends on the mutual commitment of States and on ever closer cooperation. Our rapporteurs are right to emphasise this crucial aspect, which also implies greater public awareness of these scourges.

I believe that this debate, in our Assembly, which is the bearer of humanist values and the rule of law, will make a contribution to this. I therefore sincerely thank our rapporteurs for their work, especially Mr Vernon Coaker and Mrs Isabelle Rauch, because they challenge us on a situation that must not last and they suggest useful and interesting proposals for action.

Thank you for your attention.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:55:04

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Thank you, Ms Nicole TRISSE. Ms Susana SUMELZO from Spain.

Ms Susana SUMELZO

Spain, SOC 

17:55:09

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Thank you President.

I would like to congratulate the rapporteurs of the reports that we've been dealing with in this session.

The entire Spanish delegation, particularly from the Socialist Party, we would like to say that it is of great concern to us the elevated number of victims of trafficked individuals in Europe. Individuals which are forced into prostitution, forced labour, organ trafficking as well. This goes hand in hand with violence and threats.

The protection of these victims ought to be a priority for all of us. We ought to guarantee furthermore that the perpetrators are punished.

Indeed we feel that it is extremely important to avoid any form of hate speech as well.

In Spain, unaccompanied vulnerable boys and girls have become the subject of victims of hate speech by the parties of the far right. We have to fight these messages of racism and intolerance. It has to be condemned. It has to be rejected.

We also have to fight against criminal groups who take advantage of these vulnerable individuals particularly during transit to Europe.

Indeed we have to work effective on this particular front to fight these problems.

Special attention has to be paid to sexual exploitation particularly of minors. We're speaking about a very serious human rights violation. One of the most heinous forms. Violence against women and children is totally unacceptable.

Parliaments in all member states must have the necessary legislative framework in order to provide for prevention and to fight against criminal gangs that are involved in this and also support, to the extent possible, women and children.

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

17:57:21

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Thank you, Ms Susana SUMELZO. Mr Arin KARAPET from Sweden.

Mr Arin KARAPET

Sweden, EPP/CD 

17:57:26

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Thank you, Mr Chairman and thank you to the rapporteur, the honourable lady.

Well, Mr Speaker, I want to speak about what's the source to this problem, to the migration crisis. Well, if you look at the Mediterranean Sea, we were one of the, not Sweden, but we participated in Libya, not in the bombings, but monitoring from space, during 2011. But where was the plan B? Gaddafi was gone. We talked about it. Now Libya is a new Somalia. The tribes are fighting. Islamic movements are present. The militia get funded by smuggling immigrants to Europe because that's fuelling their internal fight in Libya. But look at, for example, Egypt. I will get to my point.

Since September 2016, no boat has left Egypt - no boat - but they are still leaving Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Morocco and Algeria do not have so much of a problem as Tunisia and Libya because there is security and stability. What we are talking about, what's happening in Greece, is the causes of there is no peace and security on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. I will give credit some credit to the Turks that they took responsibility for the Syrian refugees but we made a deal with Turkey -the European countries - bigger than €3 billion. Okay! But then what after that? Now they are using that in the geopolitical strategy. Every time Europe open their mouth Erdogan says "we will open the gates to the hell"? And what's happening in Greece and in Malta, in Italy, in Spain?

The migrant, who is the most vulnerable, is getting used. That's why, Mr Chairman, most of us are members of our parliaments. It is nice to speak about European values, I come from one of those countries who took 160 000 refugees during 2015. The year before was 100 000 and the year before that was a 100 000. So Sweden takes the responsibility, but we have major problems then with integration. But first of all, we need to secure our borders. Not let immigrants, migrants, because not all of them are refugees, most of them are economic migrants. We shouldn't mix this because we have different legislations when they apply for asylum, when they want to stay in our countries.

So let's be honest. So Mr Chairman, let's protect our borders and some way together fight legal ways to Europe. And Turkey and countries like Egypt need to understand that they are not only transit countries. They are also a destination because Europe is not always, is not the only final destination.

Thank you. 

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:00:39

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Thank you much Mr Pere LÓPEZ. You've been very patient. I'm going to call you, but please be as brief as you can. From Andorra Mr Pere LÓPEZ, please.

Mr Pere LÓPEZ

Andorra, SOC 

18:00:50

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Mr President, I would like to make my statement on behalf of the Andorran delegation.

There's a lot of overlap between the issues that are up for debate today. We're delighted that we're having a debate on these issues in the home of human rights.

Andorra has not signed the UN Convention on the Suppression of Human Trafficking, nor the Protocol against illicit trafficking in migrants.

Moldova and Andorra are the two countries that have not ratified that Protocol, but we wish to point out that Andorra has signed and ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings which more importantly requires it to be transposed into a country's domestic legal order as to update the legislation via the protocols and make periodic reviews of the situation.

Against that backdrop, and following conversations with the government, we've been informed that they are willing to embark on the necessary procedures to ratify the United Nations Convention on Combating the Trafficking of Women and Children.

This is a commitment they have entered into and we as parliamentarians will see to it that they do as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:02:37

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Thank you very much indeed. And thank you for being so brief.

I'm afraid I have to interrupt the list of speakers. The speeches of members on the speaker's list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the table office for publication in the official report.

Can I remind colleagues that the typewritten text can be submitted electronically if possible no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

I now call Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ on behalf of the rapporteur to reply. Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, you have four minutes.

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Chairperson of the committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

18:03:08

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Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

Thank you for your various interventions. I liked your tone, a tone of revolt, a unanimous tone, a strong, determined revolt. You have expressed a call to action,... We have a lot of reports, a lot of conventions, but we have to act now.

We have priorities: it's helping the victims. We have to protect them. We must fight against criminals and traffickers, we must inform and denounce them relentlessly. Each success in dismantling a network, for example, will give other victims confidence and the courage to denounce their torturers. I liked the speeches of those who advocated for a better world, a world that reduces risks. War is a disaster that drives people on the roads and effectively puts them in the hands of smugglers, in the hands of shameless criminals.

We need peace, we need peace promotion, we need the rule of law, we need to fight corruption, we need more social protection, we need more education. A world like that would generate far fewer migrants, far fewer vulnerable people, far fewer stateless people, far fewer people in an irregular situation. Fewer people in this situation ultimately means fewer potential victims for criminal networks.

I will repeat, once again, what most of you have said: sex trafficking, forced labour, organ trafficking, forced begging and forced marriage are crimes. Let us dream of a world at peace, a more just world, a more egalitarian world, a world of greater solidarity and greater respect for the rights of the most humble. That, ladies and gentlemen, is in line with the values of the Council of Europe, our values.

We all have the opportunity together with our countries, with what we represent, to create this better world. So let's roll up our sleeves, it's time. Lost time carries the taste of the blood and tears of the victims.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Vernon COAKER again for his report and the Secretariat for its work.

Thank you. Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:05:29

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 Thank you Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ. Ms Serap YAŞAR, you have four minutes also.

Ms Serap YAŞAR

Turkey, NR, Rapporteur, Committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

18:05:37

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Thank you, Mr. President,

Dear colleagues,

Thank you very much for your contribution and kind words. I thank you in advance for the support you will give to this fragile and important subject, but of which there is little awareness and of which you will share the solution. I hope that our report, which emphasises that every day a migrant child disappears, will help to gradually prevent disappearances and to find missing minors.

Finally, I want to end my speech with a quote from Lord Don TOUHIG: "In 100 years from now, no matter what my bank account, the type of house I live in or the type of car I drive, the world may be different because I will be important in a child's life." Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:06:38

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Thank you very much indeed and I understand that a representative of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons wishes to speak. Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR, you have three minutes.

Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR

Iceland, UEL, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and displaced Persons 

18:06:54

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Dear President,

I just wanted to use some of these three minutes to welcome this debate and both of these reports and want to thank the rapporteurs, Mr Vernon COAKER and Ms Serap YAŞAR and the Secretariat, of course, for their very good work.

We are here talking about the darkest side of human nature and humanitarian issues, exploitation of other persons and modern slavery. Because human trafficking is nothing else than that and let us just call trafficking what it is. The rapporteur, Mr Vernon COAKER, points to this in his explanatory memorandum and raise our attention to the definition of the British NGO “Anti-Slavery International” on modern slavery.

And we have seen media reports about migrants in Libya that are auctioned like slaves for work or other purposes. This takes us all about 200 years back in time of practice and legalisation of slavery in United States. And the United States is still dealing with the social effects of that era of slavery.

And modern slavery does not only happening in Libya, but here also in Europe and in the Council's Member States. An increasing number of persons falls victim to traffickers across Europe, in particular migrants that are threatened by exploitation, often accompanied by physical and psychological violence that adds to the stark reality of people fleeing war, and war-torn areas, poverty and misery.

I totally agree with the rapport on trafficking that preventing trafficking and providing protection to victims must be of highest priority for the Council of Europe and this Assembly. Member states should ensure that victims of human trafficking are not penalised, that they receive adequate health services and legal assistance, and that witness protection programs exist for their testimony against human traffickers. And when we thought things couldn't be worse we are faced with the reality of missing refugee and migrant children in Europe.

Migrant and asylum-seeking children are particularly vulnerable group when it comes to exploitation and are therefore in need of special protection against the multiple dangers they face along their journey.

As a rapporteur of a report adopted here in June on violence against and exploitation of migrant children, I know the serious threats that migrant children face on the way to Europe, of falling into the hands of smugglers and traffickers but also sadly into the gap of policies and the lack of legal opportunities to ensure the migrant children rights and lives. We need a comprehensive politics and clear consensus of protection of missing migrant children and to combat modern slavery of human beings, whether they are adults or children. We need a firmer common strategy by the governments of the member states and how to avoid the disappearance of child refugees and migrants, thereby reducing risk to their lives.

And there we, the parliamentarians, play an important role in that combat. I therefore thank the rapporteurs and the Secretariat for their excellent report and hope we will all agree upon the action.

Mr Damien COTTIER

Switzerland, ALDE 

19:55:24

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Ms Inka HOPSU

Finland, SOC 

19:57:59

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Mister Chairperson, dear colleagues,

I would like to start by congratulating Mr. Coaker for his important work on one of the most disturbing subjects concerning mostly refugees and migrants. Human trafficking and smuggling are complex and multidimensional problems that require transnational prevention methods.

Unfortunately, also Finland is a destination and transit country for human traffickers. We have had several cases since 2004 when human trafficking was criminalized, the latest involving Nepalese restaurants, where a number of employees (even relatives to the owner) were brought to Finland to work and live in very bad conditions.

The unclear status of immigrants, refugees and undocumented migrants makes them vulnerable to exploitation, forcing them to work under poor or even cruel conditions, sometimes without pay. This is hard to detect. Fear of deportation stops many undocumented migrants from contacting the authorities. To improve the situation, we need to improve monitoring, legislation and ensure availability of and access to information in multiple languages both for victims and for employees.

Corporate responsibility is a key tool in stopping the exploitation of people. A responsible company does not abuse people and makes sure to control the quality also of its subcontractors. National legislation on corporate responsibility should include actions to combat human trafficking throughout the contracting chain.

Human trafficking and especially sexual exploitation are heavily gendered: more than two thirds of all victims are women. I was personally touched by the story of Nakout, a mother of three from Uganda. She fled to Finland via Greece and received a residency in Finland after being a victim of human trafficking and sex slavery for more than 10 years. She has not seen her children in 15 years, but hope for a reunion is still strong.

Family reunification should be possible in situations where it supports the recovery of the victim and is in the best interest of the child. Nakout’s story shows that people can be saved from human trafficking in a safe environment and with sufficient support. Experiences of human trafficking, the risk of re-victimization and the circumstances in which a child will grow up, should all consistently be considered when treating asylum applications.

Mr Kamil AYDIN

Turkey, NR 

20:04:07

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Dear President, Dear Colleagues,

I would like to thank both Rapporteurs for their diligent work on these highly important topics. The trafficking and smuggling of migrants and the plight of missing refugee and migrant children deserve to be on the top of agenda of international community. The international endeavours concerning these topics carry utmost importance for ensuring that the rights of these individuals are respected in line with Council of Europe standards.

I would like to draw your attention to an important connection with terrorist organizations and the transnational crime of trafficking and smuggling of migrants. EUROPOL 2019 report explicitly emphasizes the fact that trafficking and migrant smuggling and terrorism are interlinked. Internationally recognized terrorist organizations such as PKK and DAESH sustain their operations in and beyond Europe through operating an elaborate web of trafficking and smuggling of migrants. Therefore, it is highly important that our law enforcement agencies prevent these vile terrorist organizations from exploiting the plight of trafficked and smuggled migrants.

The report on missing refugee and migrant children prepared by my colleague breaks the silence on children falling through gaps in the international protection system in member states. Children, the most vulnerable group of refugees and migrants, unfortunately are not protected as they should be. The lack of statistics on the tragedy of missing children suggests that the situation is probably worse than estimated. As this report will raise international awareness on topic, we should encourage our governments and parliaments to exert necessary efforts for ensuring that refugee and migrant children do not go missing.

Both these reports are timely reminders to us and our governments for fulfilling our obligations for protecting refugees and migrants. They should neither go missing nor become a victim of terrorist organizations which traffic or smuggle them. As members of PACE, this should be our mission and responsibility.

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Martine WONNER

France, ALDE 

20:05:44

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Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY

Turkey, NR 

20:06:23

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(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear President, Dear Colleagues,

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to both rapporteurs for their excellent works on these delicate and interconnected matters.

While Mr. Coaker’s report successfully overviews the international instruments for combating human trafficking and underlines the state’s obligation to protect people from human trafficking, it also provides a comprehensive account on the situation of victims.

Ms. Yaşar’s report rather undertakes a very difficult task and addresses a delicate, yet largely overlooked humanitarian problem, missing refugee and migrant children. The report superbly reveals the extent of the problem of missing refugee and migrant children by providing some figures and draws our attention to the fact that we are far from truly understanding the magnitude of the problem and addressing it.

Although statistical data on missing migrant and refugee children depicts a horrifying picture on its own, states’ inaction and lack of international cooperation and awareness also raise further concerns. In this sense, the report does not only reveal the shocking picture but also recommends a number of measures for states to protect the best interest of the child.

Both rapporteurs refer to international instruments and show that international instruments provide the necessary legal grounds for both combating human trafficking and preventing migrant and refugee children from going missing. Indeed, all member states have positive obligations based on the existing instruments and norms.

One may have put blame on criminal organizations which perpetrate human trafficking and which exploit missing migrant and refugee children and on other factors, which triggered the migration flows across Europe. Instead, the rapporteurs take the difficult path. They adopt human rights perspective and victim-centered approach and lay down the obligations of states. Especially, concerning the missing migrant and refugee children, the report upholds the best interest of the child and sets list of detailed recommendations for states to protect the best interest of the child.

Finally, I consider that these two invaluable works present a comprehensive account of the problem and lay down the states’ responsibilities and possible measures. As members of PACE, our responsibility is to encourage our governments and international organizations to take much-needed necessary steps.

Thank you.

Vote: Concerted action against human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants / Missing refugee and migrant children in Europe

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:10:05

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Thank you.

We now come to the first of the two reports we have to consider on concerted action against human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants as document 15023.

The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has presented a draft resolution to which three amendments have been tabled. The Committee has also presented a draft recommendation to which two amendments have been tabled.

We begin with the consideration of amendments to the first draft resolution.

I understand that the Chairman of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons wishes to propose the Assembly that amendments 1, 2 and 3 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the Committee should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ?

Thank you. I'll take that as a yes.

Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR

Iceland, UEL, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and displaced Persons 

18:10:50

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Yes, they were, yes, yes.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:10:53

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Thank you very much.

Any objections?

No.

In that case, bear with me, we now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in document 15023 as amended.

The vote is open.

It is closed. Display the result, please.

Draft resolution in document 15023 as amended is adopted. We now come to the consideration of amendments to the draft recommendation in the first report.

Mr Sergey KALASHNIKOV to support amendment 4. Is he here? You have 30 seconds, Mister Sergey KALASHNIKOV.

Mr Sergey KALASHNIKOV

Russian Federation, UEL 

18:11:51

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In 2.1 of the draft recommendation it is stated that we want to look at the means of strengthening the prohibition.

We don't need to strengthen the prohibition. The prohibition is already in place.

In the Committee where this was discussed it was said that we want to strengthen the prohibition, but I think that it is better to say "the practice of".

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:12:26

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Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ?

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Chairperson of the committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

18:12:32

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Mr Speaker,

The will is clear in the text, it is to give the means to fight, so it is simply not a question of practice but of the means that we want to make available to reinforce what must be done.

So I'm asking you to reject this amendment.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:12:51

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Thank you.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR

Iceland, UEL, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and displaced Persons 

18:12:54

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The committee was against by large majority.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:12:56

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The Committee is against by a large majority.

I put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Display the result please.

The amendment is rejected.

Mr Sergey KALASHNIKOV to support amendment 5, you have 30 seconds.

Mr Sergey KALASHNIKOV

Russian Federation, UEL 

18:13:25

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Well, this additional amendment calls for a looking at how ethnic diasporas act. Their importance has been mentioned by a number of speakers. In particular it looks at legal norms that could regard their activities and cover them. We would call on you to support this. Now, the committee felt that this does not fit into the framework of this network, of this report, but we don't agree. We think it's pertinent to the report.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:13:58

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Thank you, Mr Sergey KALASHNIKOV. Thank you Mr Sergey KALASHNIKOV, you have 30 seconds. Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment ? Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ.

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Chairperson of the committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

18:14:06

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Thank you, Mr President,

Indeed, it is a report that clearly deals with the problem of trafficking in human beings, the smuggling of migrants. Talking about a diaspora issue, we have not understood this at all, I think it is irrelevant and I would ask you to reject this proposal.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:14:26

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The opinion of the Committee please.

Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR

Iceland, UEL, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and displaced Persons 

18:14:28

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The Committee is against by a large majority.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:14:31

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The Committee is against by a large majority.

I put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Display the result please.

Amendment number 5 is rejected.

Now we proceed to vote on the draft recommendation contained in document 15023.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Display the result please.

The draft recommendation in document 15023 is adopted.

We now come to the second of the two reports we have to consider on missing refugees and migrant children in Europe. That is document 15026.

The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has presented a draft resolution to which 12 amendments have been tabled.

The Committee has also tabled a draft recommendation to which no amendments have been tabled.

We begin by considering amendments to the draft resolution.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons wishes to propose to the Assembly that amendments 1, 4, 5, 7 and 11 that were unanimously approved by the Committee should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Is that correct?

Somebody say yes?

Thank you very much.

Does anybody object?

I see no objections.

We now come to amendment number 2 on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

Lord Don TOUHIG you have 30 seconds.

Lord Don TOUHIG

United Kingdom, SOC, Rapporteur 

18:16:33

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Chairman, this amendment is necessary because the report refers to the Article 22 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child guaranteeing the child it has a right to live with parents. It doesn't. This is really just putting the record straight.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:16:52

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Thank you Lord Don TOUHIG.

What is the opinion of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons?

Can I have an opinion from the Committee, please?

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Chairperson of the committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

18:17:03

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The commission is in favor.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:17:05

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Thank you very much.

I put the amendment of the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed. Display the result, please.

Amendment number 2 is agreed to.

Lord Don TOUHIG to support Amendment number 3 on behalf of the committee.

You have 30 seconds.

Lord Don TOUHIG

United Kingdom, SOC, Rapporteur 

18:17:31

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President. This is a common practice, to collect feedback. When I had discussions with the rapporteur she had a little bit of concern about this but we have changed the amendment to assuage those concerns because we do not want this necessary feedback in any way to impede the progress of getting a child accepted and to progress to safety in short.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:17:50

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Does anybody wish to speak against that amendment?

No. I take it that the Committee is in favour? Is that correct? Somebody say yes, please.

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Chairperson of the committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

18:18:02

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Yes.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:18:03

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Thank you. I'll accept "Oui".

The vote is open.

The vote is closed,

Display the result please.

The amendment is agreed to.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ to support amendment number 12. You have 30 seconds.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ

Turkey, NR 

18:18:28

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Thank you, Mister Chair.

The prevention of disappearance and reunification of these children with their families are among the objectives of this report.

The examples of good practices and success stories should be brought to the attention of the European public.

I believe the Council of Europe's media resources will be most appropriate to that end.

Thank you very much.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly 

18:18:48

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Thank you.

Does anybody wish to speak against that Amendment?

Mister Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ? No?

What is the opinion of the Committee, please?

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Chairperson of the committee on migration, refugees and displaced persons 

18:19:00

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The commission is in favor.