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.