Europe had always been proud that slavery was eradicated here before than any other continent, unfortunately slavery has come back in even more repulsive forms that generate exorbitant profits, the human trafficking. We are facing a type of exceptionally dangerous criminal activity, which represents the third source of income of organized crime after arms and drugs trafficking. At the time that slavery was not classified by law as a crime, slaves were often sold on the market like fresh fruit. Today, human trafficking is prohibited internationally, but the business continues to flourish in secret.
Millions of people are used as slaves and forced to work in inhumane conditions for someone else benefit. The United Nations definition of human trafficking is “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”.
This meant to provide consistency and consensus around the world on the phenomenon of trafficking in persons. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the European Union, and the measures taken to reduce this phenomenon have not produced tangible results yet. These people are used in all types of industries, agriculture and services. Most are held captive by debt, forced to work through violence to pay a claim, which in some cases has been inherited, from an ancestor.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are traded across borders to work in domestic service, manual labour, begging, and mainly in forced prostitution. Trafficking grows with economic globalization and the opening of internal borders, and the demand for cheap and undocumented labour has helped the illegal trade of human beings, reducing costs, however, that deflation is at the expense of the victims dignity and undermines the basic international standards of human rights, labour, health and safety.
For the development of this essay three main topics will be explored the current situation, the efforts of the European Union to stop this phenomenon, and the next steps to be taken. CURRENT SITUATION The human trafficking which is without doubt a clear violation of basic human rights has become very popular in Europe and experts believe that each year more than one hundred thousand people are victims of human trafficking within the borders of the European Union, and recent studies conducted by UNICEF indicates that over two thirds of EU Member States are countries origin and destination of human trafficking.
The principal recipient countries are Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, and the common countries of source are: Colombia, Philippines, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Thailand, the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde and South Asia. From 175 million migrants who are on the world in search of a better future, Europe is the continent, which hosts the largest number: 56. 1 million versus 49. 7 million in Asia and 40. 8 in North America.
Nearly doubled since 1965 and 30% less than the 230 million that will run in 2050. The flexibility of employment in the services sector during the last two decades, the growth of unemployment in Central and Eastern Europe, the endemic poverty of African, East Asia and Latin American countries are the perfect breeding ground for human trafficking where mafias and criminal networks take advantage to get large sums of money. The reality behind these networks trafficking in human beings is none other than maximizing profits.
Its complexity and sophistication make that this problem can’t be addressed only with criminal and police intervention since the mafias operate as a company hierarchy, using violent means, powerful methods, police and judicial corruption, and acting with a high degree of professionalism, dedicated at the same time to trade no just people but also drugs and weapons. The favourable conditions for their proliferation are the existence of people to traffic, the growing demand of the “sexual market”, lax and ineffective legal regulation and the internationalization of criminal organizations.
One of the main channels of action, which is none other than prostitution has become a lucrative business that according to the UN moves between 5 and 7 billion dollars annually affecting more than 4 millions of victims who are in semi-slavery, under the control of transnational gangs, suffering extortion, threats, imprisonment and suffering from a heavy reliance on organizations that exploit them.
Sexual slavery is a booming business of great benefits, and victims are terrified and do not denounce offenders because this might cause serious problems to them or their relatives residents in their home country, as well as the expulsion from the European country where they are in. In the last decade, prostitution and trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation has reached alarming figures worldwide. The following figures give an idea of the importance of this issue:
According to the UN report of 2009, people sold each year for the purposes of prostitution, Slavery and Marriage, are as follows according to the following locations worldwide: 1-East Asia: In Japan 90% of women engaged in prostitution, have been captured by the traffic of people in other parts of the world. In China there are 50,000 women who have been sold in marriage. Similar cases occur in South Korea, where there are 2,000 women working in the sex trade and from Kazakhstan. 2-West Asia: The United Arab Emirates has been the destination of 50,000 people since the fall of the former Soviet Union.
Another 2,000 and 3,000 women are conducted each year to Israel, carrying out within the last ten years 25,000 sexual transactions. 3-Eastern Europe: Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are 30,000 women victims of trafficking practicing prostitution on the streets of Europe. In Poland, for example, there are 15,000 foreign women engaging in prostitution and in Ukraine, Bulgaria and Moldova; there are 60,000 women who cross borders with false documents for the purpose of prostitution.
4-Western Europe: All countries from this area receive women and children from human trafficking that come from all over the world. Coming to Europe every year around 120,000 especially to Central Europe. Many of these women come from Africa such as Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Morocco, Benin and Tunisia. 5-Africa: Reports say that around 500,000 people are victims of human trafficking in Africa and if the trend continues, in ten years we will be taking about ten million women. Of these, Nigerian women are the highest percentage.
New Guinea, a former Spanish colony, the number of children from ten to fourteen victims of sexual slavery reaches 18. 000. 8-United States and Canada: The United States is a country that has chosen as destination for traffic in women and children from the outside world with a intention to sexual exploitation and is now a growing problem. The CIA estimates that each year are introduced to the country some 50,000 to 110,000 women and children illegally, reaching this figure even in Canada.
This has demonstrated to Americans are currently facing really powerful organizations. 7-Latin America: Some experts say that every year between 200,000 and 500,000 women are trafficked out of Latin America to be introduced in USA and Europe. The Dominican Republic has about 50,000 women working in the sex business; most of them are underage girls in order to meet the famous sex tourism. In Colombian case, 10 women fall daily in this traffic, mostly girls and children, and in Venezuela there are over 40,000 children working in prostitution.
However, it must be taken into account that this manifestation of slavery is not only regard to the prostitution and pornography, but also the so-called “wage slavery”, where maids from developing countries take a job abroad and when arriving find a complete different situation than the offered, because they become slaves and are kept under threatening of being reported to the immigration police. There are also cases of people who have entered legally and got hired for some people that stole their documents and do not pay them.
These recent cases of trafficking or wage slavery, have had a great development in recent years thanks to the Internet, where thousands of women have come to Europe through different “agencies” in search of better living conditions, but fall into the hands of criminal organizations engaged in this industry. This new type of deceptive offers, has acquired enormous proportions, that today it has not been possible to locate the dealers that use these legal means to commit their illegal impunity.
It is also known that a last but not least case is becoming common among human dealers where victims are being used to extract and sell their organs within Europe where there is an increasing demand of transplants. EUROPEAN UNION EFFORTS Trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, constitutes a major problem worldwide. The development of this serious crime and related forms of sexual exploitation and labour has increased rapidly.
However, from mid-nineties, the EU has participated actively in the development of a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses countries of origin, transit and destination to prevent and fight this blight, based on three key principles: the prevention of trafficking activities, protection and support to victims and effective criminal prosecution of traffickers. This policy developed by the European Commission apart from approximating substantive criminal law, it brings robust provisions on victim’s protection and supports the principle of non-punishment for petty crimes and unconditional assistance.
This new legislation will also oblige to all member states to set up a National Reporters or equivalent mechanism, which would be responsible for monitoring implementation of anti-trafficking policy at the national level. The EU Anti-Trafficking Day has been established on 18 October of every year. On Anti-trafficking day 2009 the Swedish Presidency has organised a Conference focusing on cooperation with third countries with respect to all aspects of anti-trafficking policy including prevention, prosecution and protection of victims.
The conclusions of the conference were largely reflected in an Action Oriented Paper on the external aspects of trafficking in human beings. The European Commission is has also launched an anti-trafficking policy website which is expected to become one stop shop for practitioners and the public interested in the problem of trafficking. Furthermore, a new Group of Experts from across Europe was set up in October 2007. It is chaired by Barbel Uhl from Germany and recently gave valuable input into debate on the new anti-THB legislation.
In October 2008, the Commission issued a Commission Working Document on Evaluation and monitoring of the implementation of the EU Action Plan of December 2005. The main findings is that an effective response to trafficking remains a distant goal. The EU members also signed the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children” adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000 and that entered into force on 25 December 2003.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is responsible for implementing the Protocol. It offers practical help to states with drafting laws, creating comprehensive national anti-trafficking strategies, and assisting with resources to implement them. The adoption in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly of the Protocol marked a significant milestone in international efforts to stop the trade in people.
To date, more than 110 States have signed and ratified the Protocol. But translating it into reality remains problematic. Very few criminals are convicted and most victims are probably never identified or assisted. The European Union legislation to fight human trafficking and their subsequent operation comes to a large extent from the invaluable role that the United Nations has developed in this matter and the recommendations and measures proposed by the different States.
Combating trafficking requires closer cooperation between Member States and Europol, Eurojust, Frontex, UNICEF and other international organizations, including NGOs; a unified method of identification of victims; and a common definition of the crime that would allow a better understanding of the global dimension of the problem. Too many agents have searched solutions to this criminal phenomenon: the UN, the Council of Europe, European Union, and even the International Criminal Court, but fighting effectively against trafficking in human beings is not an easy task. NEXT STEPS
It is necessary that human trafficking stop being a low risk activity and highly profitable for organized crime, and become an occupation of high risk and low return. Government authorities must use all resources and capacities available to enforce the prohibition of trafficking in human beings, depriving it of any economic advantage and when has shown some benefit they must seize and confiscate, and investigations on trafficking should have the same priority as other areas of organized crime, using specialized investigation techniques and strategies for dismantling the mafias.
Following initiatives taken by Europol, international police cooperation should be strengthened particularly between Special agencies of the Member States, and promote and encourage better and closer coordination among all national units specialized in combating trafficking in human beings.
They should also strengthen the instruments of judicial coordination and cooperation, both civil and criminal, and develop common standards for witnesses, and promote international cooperation and collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination, in other words, Member States and the Commission should intensify the political dialogue with third countries in relation to aspects of control policies for the Trafficking in human beings.
Strategies aimed at preventing trafficking should keep in mind that demand is one of its root causes, for this reason they should advocate for a criminal offense, prosecute and punish all those involved in any stage of the human trafficking regardless of their level of participation. States should also put efforts to detect and eliminate the participation or complicity of the public sector in this crime. In case of public officials are suspected of being involved in trafficking, they must be subject to investigation and prosecution, and assuming they are convicted, they shall suffer the harshest penalties.
CONCLUSION It is obvious that is not enough with judicial solutions, but they must go further and try to alleviate the causes of forced migration, and sometimes unbearable conditions make millions of people flee their countries of origin. However, it is true that poverty and marginalization alone do not explain the increasing numbers of human trafficking, because the most powerful underlying reasons are the demand of the people and the profitability of the business.
It is wise that the group of experts and the national reporters have been established to develop indicators and criteria for identifying the various forms of trafficking and the existing types operating within the borders of the European Union, because before this, they just could work from unreliable estimates and develop guidelines for the collection of data for analysis and dissemination.
Finally, they should ensure that victims of trafficking are not punished for illegally staying because they have been subjected to a serious act of exploitation, and establishing programs to assist them, physically and psychologically, in order that they can reintegrate into society. SOURCES http://www. unodc. org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.
html (Accessed January 3, 2011) http://www. unodc. org/documents/Global_Report_on_TIP. pdf (Accessed January 3, 2011) http://ec. europa. eu/home-affairs/policies/crime/crime_human_trafficking_en. htm#part_2 (Accessed January 4, 2011) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Protocol_to_Prevent,_Suppress_and_Punish_Trafficking_in_Persons,_especially_Women_and_Children (Accessed January 6, 2011)