Parliamentarians and NGOs from across Europe convened in the House of Commons for the inaugural seminar of the Parliamentarians against Human Trafficking (PAHT) project on 24 November.
UK MPs and representatives from NGOs met delegates from Austria, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Romania to discuss the international obligations and issues facing governments tackling the trafficking of adults and children.
The all-day event, held in the House of Commons, was opened by Baroness Butler-Sloss, who introduced a session by Peter Bone MP entitled ‘How can parliamentarians build up parliamentary groups as part of an EU parliamentary network?’.
This was followed by a keynote speech – ‘The concept of prevention in the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings: theory to practice’ – by Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery
Also in the morning was a panel discussion and Q&A on ‘How parliamentarians can help establish awareness parliamentary groups in their own parliaments’. This panel was fronted by Valeriu Zgonea MP, Romania, Ryszard Kalisz MP, Poland, Peter Bone MP, UK, Senator Mihaela Popa, Romania, Senator Alberto Maritati, Italy, Maria Paula Cardoso MP, Portugal, and Athanassios Alevras MP, Greece. It was chaired by Anthony Steen, the chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation.
The afternoon sessions focused on prevention of human trafficking and sports events, with case studies presented from ECPAT Germany and ECPAT Austria with regards to their experience of the 2006 Fifa World Cup and Euro 2008 football championships. This looked at potential challenges facing the UK with regards to its hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Additionally, there was a session on the areas of prevention that most needed addressing, featuring speeches from Klara Skrivankova of Anti-Slavery International, Margot James MP and Heike Rudat, Head
of Human Trafficking in the Criminal Investigation Department of Berlin, Germany. This was chaired by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne.
The final session of the day focused on ‘How business and parliamentarians can work more closely together to combat human trafficking’, which was presided over by Michael Connarty MP and presented by Howard Rosen, the President of the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe.
Project Coordinator Stana Buchowska said: “The London seminar was a fantastic introduction to the Parliamentarians against Human Trafficking project. The number of MPs, both from the UK and Europe, who are interested in working to raise awareness of human trafficking and to prevent it is really encouraging.
“This was the first of 11 events planned across Europe that will enable parliamentarians to learn good practice, share information and expand their contact with specialist NGOs and business leaders in Europe. After the success of this seminar, we look ahead to the Good Practice Exchange to be held on 26 January 2012 in The Hague, the Netherlands.”
The London seminar is the first such event to be held by the PAHT group, which 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.
PAHT hopes to directly reach 100 parliamentarians across 15 countries, and 1,000 indirectly through the participating parliamentarians reporting back to their national parliaments.
The two-year project, which is principally funded by the European Commission, with finance 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).
European parliamentarians at the PAHT London seminar