Europe-wide parliamentarian coalition to declare shared commitment to tackling human trafficking

Up to one hundred participants, including parliamentarians, from across Europe will convene in the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest on 26th and 27th June to declare their shared commitment to tackling human trafficking.

The declaration will serve as the capstone to the final conference of Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking (PAHT), a two-year anti-trafficking project led by ECPAT UK and the Human Trafficking Foundation.

With increased public awareness of the many transnational crimes of human trafficking, the PAHT project has sought to establish an EU-wide network of parliamentarians better positioned to campaign for national-level responses to these pressing issues.
The final conference in Bucharest is the culmination of a series of eleven high-level meetings in London, The Hague, Rome, Warsaw, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid, Stockholm and Vilnius, bringing together parliamentarians, NGO representatives and law enforcement agencies, amongst others, to share and discuss ways of preventing human trafficking, prosecuting perpetrators of human trafficking and protecting victims of human trafficking, in particular children and women.

During the conference, hosted by Mr Valeriu Zgonea MP, Speaker of the Lower House of the Romanian Parliament, parliamentarians from across the EU will seek to agree on specific mechanisms that will enable the network to continue to stimulate four national-level anti-trafficking initiatives:

•    Establishing anti-trafficking parliamentary groups or an equivalent mechanism in member states

•    Building effective cross border and regional cooperation

•    Strengthening data collection and a pan-European mapping system

•    Creating National Rapporteurs in member states to monitor and implement anti-trafficking policies

On the final day of the conference, delegates will sign the “PAHT Bucharest Declaration”, a common statement of intent to take the work of the PAHT network forward.

Bharti Patel, CEO of ECPAT UK, said: “ECPAT UK has supported the work of Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking as part of its overall mission to end child trafficking. Parliamentarians in the UK and Europe have a collective responsibility to protect children across borders. It is time that they signal their commitment to build on the work of the PAHT project and press EU member states for concrete action on human trafficking.”

Anthony Steen, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, said: “Not enough policy makers are involved in a collective initiative to stamp out modern day slavery, which across the EC is reaching epidemic numbers. Our job as NGOs, in conjunction with parliamentarians, is to have a united attack on networks of traffickers, convict them and strip them of their assets, and use these assets to compensate victims. We need to ensure these traffickers are put behind bars.”


Just under a month until the Bucharest conference

It’s not long to go now until the final event of the PAHT project – a conference to be held on Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 June in the Romanian Parliament, Bucharest. We are delighted to have already confirmed over thirty participants from parliaments and NGOs across Europe. We are also very much looking forward to visiting the Romanian Parliament and are grateful to the Speaker of the Lower House, Valeriu Zgonea MP, for offering to host us.

Further information about the conference will appear on the PAHT website soon in the Bucharest Conference resources section.

Seminar on data mapping takes place in Lithuanian Parliament

The PAHT team have just returned from the latest event of the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking project, a seminar on mapping and data collection held in Vilnius, Lithuania on Friday 19 April 2013.

Held in the Lithuanian Parliament, the seminar featured parliamentarians, NGOs and law enforcement experts from across the European Union. The project was joined by for the first time by parliamentarians from the Republic of Ireland, as well as new participants from Lithuania, Belgium, Slovenia, Portugal and Belgium.

The seminar was opened by Algirdas Sysas MP, Deputy Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, followed by interventions by Leonard Talmont MP (Chairman of the Human Rights Committee) and Baroness Butler-Sloss, Joint Chairman of the UK All Party Group on Human Trafficking.

Joana Daniel Wrabetz highlighted the importance of parliamentarians in anti trafficking work during her presentation on the Portuguese model of mapping data relating to trafficking. During her presentation, Joana noted the shift in Portugal from trafficking predominantly for sexual exploitation to trafficking for labour exploitation. She also provided a demonstration of how the system of mapping works and gave information about the new mapping project which will include inputs from Cyprus, Austria, Bulgaria and Brazil.

The next session of the seminar was a discussion on data with contributions from Gary Craig (WISE), Tim Weedon (UK Parliament) and Georgi Vanchev (ECPAT Bulgaria). Participants were urged to consider what they want data to show, to assess how accurate it is and consider where to obtain data from.

After a short lunch break, the first afternoon session, chaired by ECPAT UK CEO Bharti Patel, encouraged delegates to think about what they would like to get out of the final conference of the project, due to be held in Bucharest in early July.  Finally, the last session of the day provided the opportunity to discuss returning victims to their countries of origin and the difficulties involved in doing so. Contributions featured from Liliana Oliveira (APF Norte, Portugal), Kristina Misiniene (Caritas, Lithuania) and Manca Rausl (Kljuc, Slovenia).

The project is grateful to the Lithuanian Parliament for hosting the seminar. We look forward to the final conference of the project which will be held in Bucharest in early July.

Coming soon: PAHT seminar in Vilnius

The next Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking seminar will be held in the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) in Vilnius, on Friday 19 April 2013.  This meeting will provide a forum for parliamentarians, NGOs and leading anti-trafficking experts to discuss the development of a pan-European mapping and data gathering system on human trafficking, leading on from previous discussions on the topic in the Portuguese Parliament in September 2012.

Participants will further explore the possibility of the introduction of a “Portuguese model” of mapping and the possible extension of the Portuguese pilot project on this topic. Discussion at the seminar will examine the benefits and obstacles surrounding this model.

A large part of the seminar will be devoted to planning and preparatory work for the PAHT final conference which will be held in Bucharest in June 2013. The meeting follows on from previous parliamentary events in London, The Hague, Rome, Warsaw, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid and Stockholm.

We are expecting over 30 participants, including parliamentarians, NGO representatives, international organisation representatives (the Nordic Council of Ministers), delegates from the Ministry of Interior, Police Commissioner General, Prosecution Service of the Republic of Lithuania, social service providers and academia. Participants have been invited from Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK, amongst others.

There will also be a welcoming reception for participants on the evening of Thursday 18 April 2013 hosted by Mr. David Hunt, HM Ambassador to the Republic of Lithuania.

The next – and final – project event after the Vilnius seminar will be the final conference in Bucharest, in June 2013.

Next seminar of the PAHT project takes place in Stockholm

The Stockholm seminar of the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking project was held in the Swedish Parliament on Friday 15 March 2013.

Prior to the meeting, parliamentarians, NGOs and others with an interest in anti-trafficking work met for a welcoming reception on the evening of Thursday 14 March, hosted by HE Adam Halacinski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Sweden, at the Polish Embassy.

The seminar started with an official welcome to the Swedish Parliament by Susanne Eberstein MP, Deputy Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, together with Anthony Steen, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation and Johan Linander MP and Caroline Szyber MP.

The first presentation of the morning was delivered by representatives from the Swedish Police. They explained how Sweden focuses predominantly on trafficking for sexual exploitation and how greater regional cooperation would require a broader mandate in order to effectively tackle trafficking, especially of children.

Next followed a discussion chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss (UK) on how to stabilise anti-trafficking parliamentary groups in each EU country and firmly cement them into the parliamentary structure. Robert Biedron MP (Poland) suggested a system of sub committees within other parliamentary groups or establishing permanent specialist groups focusing on trafficking. He also advocated using virtual groups to facilitate communication between countries.

Representatives from Norway and Sweden explained that in their parliaments trafficking was primarily the responsibility of the Select Committee on Justice, but was also dealt with to a lesser extent by a multitude of other committees.

In Lithuania, trafficking is the responsibility of the Human Rights Committee. In addition, a separate Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking committee has been established to broaden the number of parliamentarians able to participate to include those from the Social Affairs and Justice Committees.

The next session started with a presentation by prosecutors Anna Lena Nilemar and Sara Lindqvist from the Swedish International Public Prosecutions Office. They underlined the regional differences that exist across Sweden in prosecuting trafficking, with the main focus being centred on the three major cities. Most prosecutions come about through people being prosecuted for buying sex. The Swedish justice system also works closely with Europol and Eurojust in order to maximise cooperation across Europe.

Andre Oktay Dahl MP (Norway), Heike Rudat (Berlin Police) and Maria Stenberg MP (Sweden) also provided their perspectives on the effectiveness of police cooperation on trafficking in their countries.

Senator Matz presented the situation in Belgium, with prosecutors taking a pragmatic approach to the problem and seeking the easiest prosecution rather than trying to obtain a prosecution for trafficking.

The afternoon session commenced with a parliamentary panel on regional cooperation, featuring contributions from Frank Field MP (UK), Senator Vanessa Matz (Belgium), Caroline Szyber MP (Sweden) and Robert Biedron MP (Poland), chaired by Angie Bray MP (UK).

Robert Biedron MP (Poland) emphasised that a common approach to the problem is needed and that existing legislation (such as the EU Convention) should be used more effectively.

Finally, Helena Karlen (Sweden) gave a presentation on the work of ECPAT Sweden in tackling child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism.

The project is grateful to Johan Linander MP and the staff of the Swedish Parliament for their help in arranging the seminar, and to the Embassy of the Republic of Poland for hosting the welcoming reception.

PAHT Seminar on Child Trafficking held in Madrid

The Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking team has just returned from Madrid following a successful seminar themed on child trafficking, which took place in the Spanish Parliament on Friday 18 January 2013.

Hosted by the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Congreso de los Diputados (the lower Chamber of the Parliament), the seminar welcomed fifty attendees from eleven countries to the Ernest Lluch Hall to discuss the best ways of effectively tackling child trafficking.

The evening before the seminar, delegates were invited to a welcoming reception at the British Ambassador’s residence, hosted by HM Ambassador to Spain, Giles Paxman. The Ambassador reaffirmed the commitment of the UK Government to fighting human trafficking and commended the work of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group, notably its Chairs Peter Bone MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss.

The seminar opened with welcoming speeches by Juan Carlos Aparicio Perez MP, Chairman of the Spanish Home Affairs Commission, and Carmen Quintanilla MP, Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.  Anthony Steen, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, also welcomed participants to the meeting.

Lars Loof, Head of the Children’s Unit at the Council of Baltic Sea States, then provided the keynote speech on standards concerning prevention and combat of trafficking in children, especially in relation to the obligations of EU states. This was followed by a Q&A session chaired by Peter Bone MP, Chair of the UK All Party Group on Human Trafficking.

Following a short break, Colin Walker, Deputy Director of ECPAT UK, presented a case study on child trafficking, showing the impact that the experience of being trafficked has on a young person. Discussion then followed on guardianship, with a particularly helpful and illustrative intervention by Katlijn Declercq from ECPAT Belgium.

The afternoon session of the seminar began with contributions from senior representatives of the Spanish police, followed by Marta Gonzalez Vazquez’s outline of the situation in Spain and finally Kalle Laanet MP detailing the approach to child trafficking in Estonia.

The PAHT project is grateful to the Congreso de los Diputados for hosting the event, and especially to Marta Gonzalez Vazquez MP for her assistance with preparations. The project would also like to thank the British Embassy in Spain for their practical assistance before and during the seminar.

Progress reports

Copies of the annual and midterm project progress reports are available from the ‘Reports’ section of the website. Project partners will have already received these reports via email, along with regular monthly bulletins. Please contact the project directly through the contact form for any further queries.

First annual PAHT Conference held in UK Parliament

MPs from across Europe are returning to their parliaments today following the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking annual conference, held in the Houses of Parliament, London on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 October.

We were delighted to welcome over 75 participants, including parliamentarians from 12 countries, together with European NGOs and experts in the field of trafficking from a further three countries.

Following welcoming remarks from Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation and project partner Anthony Steen, the packed conference room heard an address from Rt Hon William Hague MP, Foreign Secretary. The Minister reiterated his ongoing commitment to the fight against trafficking and underlined his support for the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking project.

The Foreign Secretary also paid tribute to the organisations behind the project, adding that he “would like to make special mention of ECPAT UK and its director Christine Beddoe, and Baroness Nicholson, who is the Chairman of the Asociatia Children’s High Level Group in Romania, the project’s third partner”, as well as commending with work of Anthony Steen.
Christine Beddoe, Director of ECPAT UK, provided the keynote speech on an EU strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings. Christine underscored the importance of the UK’s implementation of the EU Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings.

Next followed progress reports from three countries that have played a pivotal role in the first year of the project. Joana Daniel Wrabetz, Director of the Observatory on Trafficking in Portugal, gave a demonstration of interactive software being developed in Portugal which displays maps of patterns in trafficking. The followed a progress report from Italy delivered by Senator Maritati, who outlined the Italian Parliament’s approach to working closely with other agencies in the fight against trafficking. Finally, Arminas Lydeka MP provided an explanation of the Lithuanian situation, especially with regard to his Parliament’s approach to fighting trafficking.

The second day of the conference kicked off with a keynote speech by Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. Participants then divided into working groups to discuss various aspects of the project, namely strengthening national level PAHT groups, activities during the project’s second year and discussing key ideas to form the basis of a declaration which all parliamentarians involved in the project will sign at the final conference in Bucharest in 2013. The conference concluded with a plenary session, discussing the results of the working groups.

The project is grateful for the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for their assistance in providing a venue for the conference and to the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking for their help in planning and facilitating the conference.

The next project event will be a seminar on child trafficking to be held in Madrid in early December.

Latest event of the PAHT project held in Lisbon

The PAHT project held its latest seminar in the Portuguese Parliament last week on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 September 2012. Welcoming MPs and NGOs from eight EU countries, the seminar was organised in cooperation with the Portuguese Parliament’s Subcommittee on Equality.

The seminar was opened by Anthony Steen, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation and Elza Pais, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Equality. Ms Pais stated that trafficking is firmly on the agenda of the Portuguese Parliament and that Portugal takes a zero tolerance approach to tackling the problem.

Next followed keynote speeches by Manuel Albano, Coordinator of the National Action Plan and National Rapporteur, and Joana Daniel-Wrabetz, Director of the Observatory on Trafficking in Human Beings. Mr. Albano outlined the Portuguese approach to trafficking, advocating for a rights based approach. He wants trafficking to be brought into mainstream discussion, like the domestic violence debate. He also described an indictaor card developed by the National Rapporteur to provide police with the signs of trafficking.

Ms. Daniel-Wrabetz demonstrated mapping software developed in Portugal, which helps to provide a socio-economic profile of victims. By mapping cases, police can analyse why a particular area might be especially susceptible for cases of trafficking.

The day’s debate concluded with a lively parliamentary discussion on why data collection and evidence gathering on trafficking is important for anti-trafficking efforts, with interventions from Caroline Szyber MP (Sweden), Johan Linander MP (Sweden) and Maria Paula Cardoso MP (Portugal). In the evening, delegates attended a reception at the British Ambassador’s residence, hosted by Deputy Head of Mission Peter Connolly.

Friday started with a presentation on evidence gathering by Christine Beddoe, Director of ECPAT UK. Citing the example of a Bulgarian trafficked child, she highlighted the importance of Joint Investigation Teams in investigating cases of suspected trafficking. After a discussion on the benefits of working together, Klara Skrivankova from Anti Slavery International gave a presentation on the importance of data collection to advocate for change.

Next followed contributions from Portuguese NGOs and government agencies on their experiences of helping victims of trafficking. Finally, Elsa Pais MP and colleagues from the Portuguese Subcommittee on Equality gave presentations to the seminar about the importance of tackling human trafficking.

The PAHT project is grateful to the Assembleia da Republica, especially the staff of the Subcommittee on Equality, and the British Embassy in Lisbon for their help with preparations for the seminar.


PAHT Helsinki Study Visit

The PAHT team have just returned from a one day study visit to Helsinki with a small group of parliamentarians from across Europe dedicated to fighting human trafficking.

The PAHT project aims to develop a European network of parliamentarians working to combat human trafficking in order to promote and develop cross-border cooperation and mutual understanding. The project, which is principally funded by the European Commission, with further funding support from the Tudor Trust, is led by ECPAT UK, with key partners the Human Trafficking Foundation and the Asociatia High Level Group for Children (Romania).

Participating in the visit were Robert Biedron MP (Poland), Michael Connarty MP (UK), Dragutin Mate MP (Slovenia), David McIlveen MLA (Northern Ireland, Ruta Ragliauskiene (Parliament of Lithuania), together with Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation Anthony Steen and project staff Stana Buchowska and Emma Makey.

The visit started with a meeting in the Finnish Parliament, the Eduskunta, with parliamentary members of the Human Rights Committee. Chaired by Ilkka Kantola MP, Finnish MPs shared their knowledge and experience of working on legislation relating to trafficking and described their relationship with the National Rapporteur. Mr Kantola was joined by several colleagues including Anna Kontola MP, a specialist on sex trafficking in Finland.

Participants then travelled to the Helsinki Police Headquarters where they met Inspector Timo Sundqvist, Mikko Sipila (District Prosecutor) and Natalia Ollus (European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control). The meeting looked at the work of law enforcement agencies in Finland in fighting trafficking, with Inspector Sundqvist detailing the police department’s approach to secure a conviction in a recent case involving the trafficking and pimping of a 16 year old Romanian girl.  

Next, participants met with Eva Biaudet, Ombudsman for Minorities and National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings. Ms Biaudet explained that the Ombudsman sits within the Finnish Ministry of the Interior, presenting a report to the Parliament every 4 years (although not to the plenary session). She also described the challenges faced in Finland in enabling police to recognise the signs of trafficking.

The last meeting of the day was a roundtable discussion with representatives from key Finnish NGOs tackling trafficking – Pro Centre Finland, the Multicultural Women’s Association and Victim Support Finland. Jaana Kauppinen from Pro Centre described how the number of victims of trafficking in Finland are much greater than the numbers formally identified, with Russia, Thailand and Estonia being the main source countries.