Successful second event of the PAHT project in The Hague

Yesterday, parliamentarians and NGOs from across the EU met in The Hague for the second event of the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking project.

Meeting in the Senate of the Dutch Parliament, the Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal, participants gathered for the Good Practice Exchange to learn about the role of the Dutch Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, her work with the Dutch Parliament and how the system could work in other EU parliaments.

The day started with a welcome address by Senator Willem Brocker, host of the event, and Anthony Steen, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation. Both explained the importance of having independent National Rapporteurs across the EU to assist in the fight against trafficking. Senator Brocker also reflected on the Dutch Parliament’s good relationship with the Dutch Rapporteur and how the work of the Rapporteur had significantly informed and improved counter-trafficking debate in the Dutch Parliament.

Next followed keynote speeches by Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen, National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings in the Netherlands, and Ard Van Der Steur MP, member of the Dutch Parliament.

Ms. Dettmeijer-Vermeulen described the work of the National Rapporteur in checking the effectiveness of the fight against human trafficking. She explained how the role continues to evolve with the addition of fighting child pornography to her mandate.

Mr. Van Der Steur reiterated Senator Brocker’s endorsement of the work performed by the National Rapporteur’s office, highlighting the particular usefulness of the National Rapporteur’s reports in enabling parliamentary debate on human trafficking.

The morning’s discussions continued with an in depth session for parliamentarians focused on how parliamentarians can build up parliamentary groups as part of an EU network. Parliamentarians were also invited to provide overviews of the situations in their countries. Presided by Anthony Steen, the session featured contributions from Maria Cardoso MP (Portugal), Florin Paslaru MP (Romania), Peter Bone MP (UK), Anna Lo MLA (UK), Michael Connarty MP (UK), Elisabeth Naucler MP (Finland), Nassos Alevras MP (Greece), Robert Biedron MP (Poland), Ard Van Der Steur MP (Netherlands) and Senator Willem Brocker (Netherlands).

After a short lunch break, the afternoon kicked off with a lively interactive discussion on co-operation between NGOs and parliamentarians, chaired by Marieke Van Doorninck, La Strada International Netherlands and featuring contributions from Sandra Classen (BLINN), Bas De Visser (Comensha), Theo Noten (ECPAT Netherlands) and Jaana Kauppinen (Pro-Centre Finland). Debate centred on how MPs and NGOs could work together to convince colleagues of the importance of establishing an independent rapporteur in all EU member states.

Following a contribution from Steve Harvey on Europol’s work in fighting human trafficking, the day finished with brief concluding statements from Stana Buchowska, Project Co-ordinator, and Christine Beddoe, Project Director.

The next event of the PAHT project is scheduled to take place in Rome on Thursday 22 March 2012.