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Wed, May 17 2006 11:30 CET 684 Views
The main obstacles on Bulgaria's way to EU accession remained money laundering and human trafficking. According to the article, the European Commission report from May 16 meant Bulgaria needed to take urgent action in fighting organised crime if it wanted to join the EU in 2007. The Independent said the report 'painted and alarming picture' of Bulgaria as one of 'Europe's centres of human trafficking'. Statistics show over 170 contract killings might have taken place in the last 14 years. Very few of these were successfully investigated, the report said. Other problems listed in the report included a 'very low' success rate in prosecuting corruption and human trafficking. What the Independent called a 'litany of failings' included weak control over EU fund administration. Despite the problems, EU was likely to admit the two countries in 2007, the article said. This would give Bulgaria and Romania a stimulus for speeding up the reforms pace. The Independent said the most likely outcome was on on-time accession with some restrictions like limited access to EU funds. A special monitoring system might also be required during the first three years after Bulgaria joins the union.
EU home to 270,000 human-trafficking victims
Sun, 18 Oct 2009 18:21:18 GMT Font size :
The alarming rise in the number of human trafficking victims in the European Union has prompted the United Nations to issue a request for increased efforts in combating the illegal trade. The United Nations announced on Sunday that estimates showed there could be around 270,000 victims of human trafficking in the EU, while authorities in the 27-nation bloc said only a small
percentage of the figure had been brought to their attention. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which disclosed the startling findings on European Anti-Trafficking Day, expressed concern that a 2006 report had only estimated 9,000 victims ² 30 times less than the revised figure. EU Anti-Trafficking Day aims to raise awareness for victims and people affected by the human smuggling trade and the plights they face, ranging from forced slavery and hard labor to prostitution and going through sexual abuse. While 10 percent of the victims are minors, the majority of trafficking victims are women who are forced into prostitution, according to the agency. A damning UNODC report titled ³Trafficking in Persons: Analysis on Europe´ also shows that on average, less than 1 in 100,000 people are being convicted for human trafficking in Europe than "for rare crimes like kidnapping." The report goes on to blame the police for lack of action.
News & Updates EU and ASEAN Join Hands to Fight Trafficking April 04, 2007 Foreign ministers of the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) agreed to back the launch of talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two blocs. His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Brunei's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, attended the meeting. In the "Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership", the two sides also pledged to cooperate closely on fighting terrorism, human trafficking and organised crime. In the document issued after two days of talks in the German city of Nuremberg, the two blocs committed to support talks on an FTA based on the platform of the World Trade Organisation. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the stalled Doha round of WTO negotiations. The 27-member EU and the 10-member Asean said they would cooperate closely on combating terrorism, trafficking in human beings, drug trafficking, sea piracy, arms smuggling, money laundering, cyber crime and related transnational crime. On energy and climate change, the two sides agreed on the need for "stable, effective and transparent global energy markets" and pledged to promote energy security "through an EU-Asean policy dialogue on energy".
They also called for the swift implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. Without mentioning Myanmar's membership of Asean - a controversial point for the EU - the two blocs committed themselves to "promoting universal values of justice, democracy and human rights" in line with the UN Charter. On the sidelines of the meeting, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner called on Myanmar to improve its human rights record and to release Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since 2003. The two blocs also committed themselves to cooperating on disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. EU foreign policy head Javier Solana said he had been "positively impressed" by the contribution of Asean countries to the meeting. "We discussed the most important international issues... There was a sense of commonality of thinking, not only in trade and economics, but also in politics," he said. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who co-chaired the meeting with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, said the meeting had discussed the Middle East, the Iraq conflict, Iran's nuclear programme, North Korea and other issues of international concern. The talks were the 16th since links were established between the two blocs 30 years ago. The meeting took place under the auspices of the German presidency of the EU. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Adapted from: "EU and Asean Join Hands To Fight Terror, Trafficking." March 2007.
News & Updates
Police Break Up Group Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Europe
June 24, 2009
Police in Italy and across Europe have arrested a group of mainly Nigerian citizens accused of trafficking women for sex, European police agency Europol said. Europol said it and the Italian 'carabinieri' paramilitary police had arrested 34 suspects in Italy as well as in France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain and San Marino.
Members of the criminal group had also worked with two Italian doctors to organise forced abortions, the Hague-based agency said. Europol said investigations had focused on groups located in the coastal Marche region of Italy, where victims were held in criminal cells led by 'madames' and had to hand over all their earnings to pay off debt incurred for their journey to Italy. "The victims were subject to continued intimidation and violence, aimed at guaranteeing a daily income and to ensure their compliance," Europol said in a statement. After providing victims with counterfeit documents, some were trafficked through the Netherlands and France where they were met and accompanied to Italy by members of the criminal group, while others came by sea or through Turkey and Greece. The arrests follow a police bust of a drug trafficking network in April, in which drugs were smuggled from Madrid in Spain to the Italian regions of Piedmont and Marche by using drug 'mules', who were often the women forced into prostitution.
News & Updates
Prosecuting Men who Pay for Sex Might Reduce the Trafficking of Girls'
December 21, 2007 Men will be prosecuted for paying women for sex under plans backed by ministers, which are to go before the Commons soon. A former Labour minister today calls on ³laddish male´ ministers to help prevent Britain becoming the ³sex slave´ capital of Europe and stop women being exploited. Under proposed legislation tabled by Denis MacShane, the former minister for Europe, and two other former ministers, councils and police chiefs will be given powers to put men before the courts if they pay women for sex.
The idea is to extend successful action against kerb crawlers to brothels and massage parlours where the majority of trafficked sex slaves in Britain are forced to operate. The MPs¶ campaign was boosted yesterday when Harriet Harman, the women¶s minister, said that such a move was necessary to stem the flood of sex workers being trafficked into Britain. It was time to consider such moves as governments tried to tackle international human trafficking. Ms Harman, Labour¶s deputy leader and the Leader of the Commons, told BBC Radio 4¶s Today programme: ³I think we do need to have a debate and unless you tackle the demand side of human trafficking, which is fuelling this trade, we will not be able to protect women from it. My own personal view is that¶s what we need to do as a next step.´ She added: ³Do we think it¶s right in the 21st century that women should be in a sex trade or do we think it¶s exploitation and should be banned? ³Just because something has always gone on, it doesn¶t mean you just wring your hands and say there¶s nothing we can do about it.´ The Government is also studying the law in Sweden, where paying for sex has already been made illegal. ³The time has come to tackle the demand side of the ever-increasing exploitation of women and that means making men accept that they have responsibility for the sex-slave industry,´ Mr MacShane said.
He and Fiona MacTaggart and Barry Gardiner have tabled amendments calling for local authorities and the police to be given powers to identify zones in town areas where men caught paying for sex may be charged and put before the courts. Mr MacShane led the campaign to get the British government to sign the Council of Europe AntiTrafficking Convention. Tony Blair rejected Home Office objections that helping women trafficked as sex slaves would encourage more migration to the UK and signed the convention last year. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, has now pledged to ratify the convention, which gives support to girls trafficked as sex slaves if they escape their pimps and helps the police to identify traffickers. Britain has an estimated 25,000 women ± some under the age of 16 and many under 21 ± who have been trafficked into the UK to work in brothels and massage parlours. Mr MacShane said: ³These are ruthlessly exploited girls and women who are not willing sex workers but who are beaten, raped and held as prisoners to satisfy the demand of British men for paid-for sex. Most of the women working in brothels are there in connection with drugs or debt. ³This is seedy, international crime and the men who pay for it should be made to accept their responsibility just as laws to stop kerb-crawling have seen an average
900 convictions a year since 2001 and helped reduce that part of the sex trade.´ ³There are still some laddish male ministers who do not see this in terms of supporting women against men using money-power to exploit defenceless trafficked girls,´ Mr MacShane said. ³In 2007, we celebrated the 200th anniversary of abolishing the slave trade so I hope William Hague, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will make 2008 the year when we got serious about the sex-slave trade,´ he added. ³This is an empowering amendment which leaves the decision [to prosecute] in the hands of local councillors, local communities and local police. ³It is not Government deciding to abolish prostitution from on high. This is about local communities deciding if they want to slow down and reduce the sex slave business.´ The recently created All-Party Group on Trafficking is expected to generate cross-party support on the issue. The tabling of the amendments follows talks with newspapers to stop the publication of small advertisements offering services at brothels believed to be linked to human trafficking. The Home Office is not seeking to deport foreign criminals given a jail term of less than 12 months unless the court recommends removal or proceedings are already under way. Prison governors have been told that the Border and Immigration Agency as a rule has ³no interest´ in pursuing such offenders.
The disclosure comes after the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said in July: ³I want a message to go out. If you come here, you work and you learn our language. If you commit a crime, you will be deported from our country.´ Since the 2006 scandal when it was found that foreign national prisoners were being released from jail without being considered for deportation, ministers have given the impression that foreign criminals will be removed.
EU Ministerial Conference ³Towards Global EU Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings´ The Third EU Anti-Trafficking Day Panel One: International Partnerships to Prevent Trafficking in Human Beings Speech by Thorbjørn JAGLAND, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Embargo until delivery / Check against delivery Brussels, 19 October 2009 Trafficking in human beings is slave trade. It violates victims human rights, human dignity and the integrity of the victims. This is why the Council of Europe is involved and this is why we have adopted the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. Its approach can be summed up as three Ps; prevention of trafficking, protection of victims and prosecution of traffickers. The Convention is the first European treaty in this field and the only international treaty which includes a comprehensive protection of the human rights of the victims as an integral part of the fight against this criminal activity. This is why the Convention is an excellent example of the new generation of Council of Europe treaties, combining strong human rights safeguards with effective legal co-operation against crime. Moreover, like many of our recent conventions, it is open to non-European countries which is essential in the fight against this international phenomenon which requires an international response. Today, the Convention has been ratified by 26 Council of Europe member states, of which 16 are European Union member states. I take this occasion to call for the ratification of the Convention by all European Union member states which have not yet done so.
The Council of Europe Convention applies to all forms of trafficking: whether national or transnational, whether related to organised crime or not; whether the victim is a woman, man or child and regardless of the form of exploitation: sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or for the removal of organs. When compared to other international texts, the Council of Europe Convention represents an important added value in several respects. Let me give you a few examples: One, it contains a list of mandatory assistance measures to victims of trafficking. Victims of trafficking must be granted physical and psychological assistance and support for their reintegration into society. Medical treatment, counselling and information as well as appropriate accommodation are all among the measures provided to victims. Victims are also entitled to receive compensation. Two, the Council of Europe Convention introduces a mandatory recovery and reflection period for victims of at least 30 days ± a period to recover and escape from the influence of the traffickers and to take a decision on their possible co-operation with the law enforcement authorities. This is a significant improvement in the way victims of trafficking are treated in the countries of destination, which is not only in their interest, but also in the interest of society as a whole. Three, the Council of Europe Convention envisages the possibility of delivering renewable residence permits to victims of trafficking, either on humanitarian grounds or because of the victims¶ cooperation with the law enforcement authorities. Four, the Council of Europe Convention introduces the possibility to criminalise the ³clients´, that is persons who knowingly use the service of a victim of trafficking in human beings; Five, the Council of Europe Convention provides for the possibility of not imposing penalties on victims for their involvement in unlawful activities, if they were compelled to do so by their situation. We all know that proper monitoring is indispensable to the effectiveness, credibility and impact of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. The entry into force of the Convention on 1 February 2008 triggered the setting-up of its monitoring mechanism, which is now fully operational. This mechanism consists of two pillars; the Group of Experts against Trafficking in Human Beings or GRETA, a body composed of independent and highly qualified experts, and a more political body, the Committee of the Parties composed of representatives of the governments. GRETA will adopt reports and conclusions on each Party¶s implementation of the Convention on the basis of country visits, dialogue with governmental authorities, members of parliament, civil society organisations and the victims themselves. It is expected that the first GRETA reports, which will be public, will be adopted by the beginning of 2011. The Committee of the Parties' main functions are to make recommendations to a Party concerning the measures to be taken to follow up GRETA¶s conclusions and to act as international observatory on the prevention and combating of trafficking in human beings. The co-operation with the European Union in this area is a part of the shared priorities, as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union of May 2007. In the Council of Europe, we support the development of a comprehensive, binding EU strategy to combat trafficking in human beings and to provide for a satisfactory protection of victims. We also believe that the most effective, the most rational and the most expedient way to do so is for the European Community to become a party to our Convention. The Council of Europe welcomed the adoption by the European Commission on 25 March 2009 of a proposal for a Council Framework Decision on preventing and combating trafficking in human
beings, and protecting the victims. The provisions contained in this proposal correspond to a large extent to the provisions contained in the Council of Europe Convention. I should like to thank Mr Jacques Barrot, the Vice-President of the European Commission, for the constructive consultation which has been established between the European Commission and the Council of Europe on this new text, which allowed for a detailed exchange of views on substance. The Council of Europe is convinced that the human-rights based and victim-centred approach to trafficking in human beings is the only way to successfully prevent this scourge, protect its victims and prosecute traffickers. The widest possible ratification of the Council of Europe Convention and its effective implementation will significantly contribute to achieving these goals, as well as to developing and strengthening partnerships against trafficking in human beings not only in Europe but world-wide.
Klaus signature completes EU treaty ratification
ANDREW WILLIS 03.11.2009 @ 18:30 CET EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS ± Czech President Vaclav Klaus has finally signed the Lisbon Treaty, ending a highly drawn out ratification process that left many wondering whether the document's provisions would ever see the light of day. "I signed the Lisbon Treaty today at 15.00 (CET)," Klaus told reporters on Tuesday (3 November).
Czech President Vaclav Klaus signed the Lisbon Treaty on Tuesday (Photo: wikipedia)
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His signature, the last of EU leaders, follows on from a Czech constitutional court decision early on Tuesday morning that ruled in favour of the Lisbon Treaty's compatibility with the Czech constitution. "It's now absolutely clear that the Lisbon Treaty will enter into force soon," said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso upon hearing the news. Swedish prime minister and current EU president Fredrik Reinfeldt also sought to draw a line under the process. "His signature ends a far too long period of institutional focus within the EU. It opens up for a more democratic, transparent and efficient Union," he said. Welcoming the news, European parliament president Jerzy Buzek said his institution was now ready to swing into action to get a new commission up and running. "We need a new and strong European Commission in place as soon as possible. The European Parliament will be ready as of the 25 November to start the hearings of the new commissionersdesignate," he said. New Jobs As well as appointing a new set of commissioners, the EU can now move ahead with the planned overhaul of its institutions and the appointment of several new positions intended to increase the bloc's standing on the world stage. All of these decisions had been held up by the political uncertainty in Prague, with Mr Barroso saying he can only assemble his commission team when it is clear who will become EU foreign minister, a new post that will see the person also act as vice-president of the commission. Mr Reinfeldt said he would now engage in a round of name consultations for the new posts to be set up under the Lisbon Treaty. "As soon as possible I will also call for an EU summit," he said, with current rumours suggesting the meeting could be held as soon as 12 November. The other top post created by the treaty is the president of the European Council. Former UK prime minister Tony Blair's chances of securing this job suffered a setback last week when some Socialist leaders failed to support his bid. Current Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, and the current Belgian prime minister, Herman van Rompuy, now look like frontrunners to secure the job.
Both are from Europe's centre-right family, leaving the position of high representative for foreign affairs likely to go to a Socialist. The UK's current foreign minister David Miliband is though to be a favourite. However, it is not precluded that new names emerge for the posts in the coming days. The treaty, which reduces member states' veto power in several areas and hands a chunk of colegislative power to MEPs, is to come into force on 1 December.
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