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Home arrow newsitems arrow COE+OSCE Leaders v. Human Trafficking to Eurofora on 10 Years Experience (2008-2018)+the Way Forward

COE+OSCE Leaders v. Human Trafficking to Eurofora on 10 Years Experience (2008-2018)+the Way Forward

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 22 May 2018

 

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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- On the Occasion of a well attended, 2 Days-Long, International Conference on Stock-Taking of 10 Years in Fighting versus Human Trafficking and Abuse, the Leaders of PanEuropean CoE's (47 States, incl. Russia+)) and Euro-Atlantic OSCE (57 States, incl. USA+) Organisations' activities in that area of Growing Importance during Recent Conflicts and other Crisis around Europe, stressed to "Eurofora" what they Believe to be the Main Challenges and Priorities Nowadays and in the foreseeable Future :

 

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 - The New President of CoE's Watchdog, composed by Independent Experts checking the Implementation of the relevant PanEuropean Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings ("GRETA"), Irish Jurist Mrs Siobhan Mullally, speaking to "Eurofora", stressed, in Substance, that, among the 3 main Practical Objectives : Prevention, Protection of Victims, and Punishment of Traffickers and/or those who Exploit such Crimes, what has Become more Urgent, Nowadays, is, in Fact, "Prevention".

 

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- Particularly, since the Recent Socio-Economic Crisis and Waves of various Displaced People towards Europe include also Many Children, as she noted, pointing at an Issue that GRETA has Just Examined also in a Special Research on "Trafficking in Children", which was Published this May 2018.

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Significantly, 4 out of 5 Categories of Child Trafficking Risks, affect mostly European Children, such as, f.ex., "Not Registration at Birth", Children "in Street", "Placed in Institutions", and/or "from Disadvantaged Communities". Recently emerged also the Issue of "Unaccompanied or Separated" and "Irregular Migrant" Children. Between 2012-2015, Most of them, in Absolute terms, were Found in the UK (almost 2.500) and Romania (about 1.300). But in Percentage among All Various Victims of Human Trafficking, Children representred the Biggest Proportion of around the Half in Montenegro, Croatia and Albania, (53%, 51% and 43%), while they were, on the Contrary, Only a Small Minority in Cyprua and Austria, Denmark and Georgia, as well as in Slovakia, (3%, 4%, 5%, 5%, and 8%, respectively).


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- However, for the even Wider view of Euro-Atlantic OSCE's Special Representative and Coordinator against Human Trafficking, Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova from Kazakstan, Speaking to "Eurofora", stressed, in Substance, that, considering "Both Pan'European and UNO's" recent Data, what is currently Lacking most of all in the International Fight against Traffickingt of Human Beings was Efficient Persecution of those Responsible for such Crimes, in order to Bring them to Justice, to Fight Impunity.


+ In order to Strengthen the Efficiency of that Fight, CoE, OSCE and the UN need to Work Together, inter alia, also, particularly in order to Target, around the World, those "Chains of Supplies", which Exploit Forced Labour resulting from Human Trafficking, the OSCE's competent Senior Official also pointed out earlier, (See Infra).


- She had just, actively Participated in a Special Panel Discussion, explicitly Focused on current efforts for "Building Strategic Partnerships", together with a Representative of the "Organisation of American States" (OAS), and Other Key Experts, (See Infra).


-  Significantly, that Panel, obviously Important for the foreseeable Future, had been attended also by CoE's Director on Anti-Trafficking, Perya Nestorova, who Spoke to "Eurofora" both Before and After that Meeting :

 

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- Experienced Anti-Trafficking CEO Nestorova, who was the main Organiser, in practice, of this exceptional International Conference attended by about 150 Experts for the 10th Anniversary of CoE's relevant Convention (2008-2018), while speaking to "Eurofora", spontaneously Chose to Focus, indeed, on the Need for International Cooperation in the Fight against Trafficking of Human Beings : In this regard, she Regretted the Absence of an EU Representative, who had been Invited, and the Obstacles (by Lack of due Visa on Time) for a Representative of African Countries to arrive Timely in Strasbourg,  as well that of an ASEAN's Expert (despite a New CoE-ASEAN "Comparison" Study, just Published on this May 2018), that she found certainly Useful to Associate in the foreseable Future. But she Hailed the Active Presence of Both the OSCE's and OAS' Senior Officials.

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=> Nestorova revealed to "Eurofora", in this regard, that Tomorrow, on Wednesday, 23 of May, CoE organizes, indeed, an Exceptionaly Important Meeting with "National Coordinators" from Member States' Governments, as well as the OSCE's competent Representative, Kazak Ambassador Jarbussynova, (Comp. Supra), which will work behind closed doors because of the Sensitive character of those Issues, in order to Discuss and Decide on a Series of Practical Measures that they all intend to take, in closer Cooperation, in order to Better Face the Challenges already witnessed in the Past 10 Years, until Now, as well as to Forge a common Strategy Facilitating to Advance Forward Together in the Foreseeable Future, taking into account also the Latest relevant Developments, (especially in and/or around Europe).

 

+ Meanwhile, OAS' Representative, Anna Ochoa, had reminded (during the above-mentioned Special "Panel" on "Partnerships" : Comp. Supra + Infra), that the American States have explicitly Decided to Launch a systematic Anti-Trafficking Policy Later than Europe : mainly Since 2014. But, despite the participation, in principle, of more than 20 States, (including also the Caraibes), nevertheless, a Problem still was, f.ex., that Judicial Cooperation on that matter had Not yet been Established, except from 4 ou 5 interLinked Countries, including the USA, etc. However, Better Perspectives were Expected for the Recent Launch of a "Knowledge" Network in that area of activities, Starting from March 2018, (etc).

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>>> On the Contrary, for the European States, there are Clear Rules at CoE's Anti-Trafficking Convention, about what they should do, But, it seems that there is, until now, a real "Problem of Implementation", particularly as far as it concerns the necessary "Investigations" about Traffickers, observed British Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the CoE, Christoper Yvon, who is President of the "Committee of the (State) Parties", Monitoring how those Rules are Applied in real Practice.

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 - However, according to ECHR's Case-Law,  there is even a Legal Responsibility for COE's Member States to Take at least certain elementary Measures of Anti-Trafficking, because, Otherwise, they Risk to be Found "Accountable" for Human Rights' Violations, Warned CoE's Director-General on Democracy, Snezana Samardzic - Markovic, right from the Beginning of this Conference.

 

                                                          

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 -She pointed at ECHR's vice-President, Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, who Explained that, according to the Case-Law developed by Euro-Judges, States have a "Positive Obligation" to Take Certain relevant Measures, (as, f.ex., to "Criminalize" the Trafficking of Human Beings, etc), flowing from the PanEuropean Convention of Human Rights' Article 4, on "¨Prohibition of Slavery, and Forced Labour", which include Prevention, Help^to Victims, and Judicial Enquiries in order to find and punish those responsible for such Crimes, (as it results, f.ex., by the Famous case of "Rantseva v. Cyprus and Russia" : the Death of a Russian Girl in Cyprus, after she Tried to Escape from Pressure to become a Prostitute, but also from 2 Other Cases concerning Greece, etc, as he noted). Moreover, "from 2017", the ECHR started to make even Explicit and Direct References to "GRETA"s Findings and/or Recommendations, thereby creating "Synergy".


But the Most Moving Event was, unquestionably, that of a Session dedicated to the original Testimonies of Victims who "Survived" Human Trafficking, and Described their traumatic Personal Experience :


- According to Spanish Social Worker Branna Noelle-Hodge, Many Victims "look like Machines", who don't Turst Nobody, and/or "they Lie", staying "under Constant Fear", in a "UnStable Situation", "Threatened to be Send to anOther Country", etc. Often we give them Phones and Numbers to call 7/7 and 24/24, she said.

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- But things appeared quite Different, with Young Yazidi Woman Farida Abbas Khalaf, a Survivor and Rescapee from  4 Months of Captivity by ISIS' Deadly Islamist Terrorists, cowardly Targetting defenseless, innocent Civilian People, at Iraq :  - "Don't let our Abusers get Away with their Crimes !", she urged from the outset.


- Most ISIS' Attacks started from 2014 to Spread at Iraq their Atrocities, which intended to commit a Genocide, by Destroying us, as Yazidi Minority : They Targetted Women and Girls with Rape, Torture, Humiliations, using Sexual Slavery as a Weapon to Destroy our Community, she Denounced. I still live that Tragedy, and I Fell this Scar will Never Disappear. ISIS Killed by Father and Brother, Captured my Mother, and held me in Captivity for 4 Months, submitted to Physical and Mental ill-treatments. Still more than 3.200 Women are in Captivity or Missing nowadays, and many Christians, etc. have been Taken Away from Syria to Iraq", she Denounced. 

- "But Nobody has been yet Prosecuted for all those Crimes ! Not Any of those ISIS' Criminals Arrested, Investigated and Punished. If they Return to Europe, they should Face Justice : Jihadis Returning to Europe should Face Real Justice !", she urged.


 => CoE should call for Support to People victims of Genocide attempts, for ReConstruction of Homes and Infrastructures Destroyed, and to practice Open Doors for Real Refugees who Face Genocide, she added.
+ In Addition,  "People of AFRIN (Syria's Kurdish Canton recently Invaded and Occupied by Turkey's Military Troops and various Jihadist Armed Gangs) all lie in Constant Fear : CoE should adopt a Resolution to Help them against Pressure from Radical Groups", the fragile Yazidi Woman urged Today.


(See also Statements of Award-Winning and Book Writer Yazidi Woman Survivor of ISIS, Farida Abbas-Khalaf to "Eurofora", later-on, at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/yazidiwomanisissurvivoraskstohelpafrin.html).
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- Speaking Afterwards, on the sidelines of one among the 4 Different "Panels" of Experts set up by this CoE's International Conference, Greece's National Rapporteur on Trafficking of Human Beings, Dr. Heracles Moskoff, stressed to "Eurofora" that, in order to Succeed in the necessary Fight against Impunity, "Victims must be Protected" : Because it's Only Then that they Can bring Testimonies, and bear Witness against Criminals, as he observed.  

 

He couldn't explain, however, how is it possible for more than 1,5 Millions of Mass Asylum Seekers/Irregular Migrants to suddenly enter Europe via Greece through Turkey, already on 2015-2016, without practically anyone to have been arrested for Human Trafficking : - "Even if Smuggling is not the same thing as Trafficking, nevertheless, that Question remains open, since it seems that the Gravity of that Danger had not yet been fully perceived by Law Enforcement Authorities in Europe", Dr. Moskoff agreed with "Eurofora".

 

 But the above-mentioned Role of Victims became Key in the Panel Focused on "Criminal Justice Efficiency", whose Conclusions were presented by Rapporteur Rita Theodorou, GRETA Member from Cyprus:

 

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- Indeed,  Human Trafficking's Victims, abused as "Slaves" and "Disposable Commodities", are Nowadays often lurred and traped by "Softer Methods", including, f.ex., "Promises for a Better Life", she pointed out.

 

=> Thus, sometimes, they "Suddenly Refuse to Cooperate" with Law Enforcement Authorities, "or Lie", etc., may be Because "they are Afraid" and/or "Tired and Lost", etc., she regretted.

 

-  In such cases, recalcitrant Victims should Not be Prosecuted, because, then, they won't cooperate at all, GRETA Expert Theodossiou advised. On the Contrary, Victims should be provided Support, (f.ex. by Legal Aid,  Social Measures, Financial incitations, etc).

 - Even if the Investigations would Not have to Wait for Victims to come out, before doing anything, but, on the contrary, try to Advance also by any other possible means, including, f.ex., International Cooperation, which has Not yet been Used enough, she suggested.

 

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 + But, in Other Cases, the Experienced Dutch National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, former Long-Time Attorney General of the Netherlands, Herman Bolhaar, (who participated at a Panel on "Strategic Partnerships"), revealed a Troubling Reality :


- During Many Years, Police had been Arresting several "Minors" mainly for Stealing, etc, but was routinely led to Let them Free to Go, afterwards, particularly because of their Age, etc. However, most of them used to Commit again and again such Offences, so that they were Coming and Going through Police and Courts for Endless Years, without any clear Horizon in view, he described.


- Suddenly, However, anOther Police Specialist, with Wider Experience, Suspected that "a Criminal Organisation was Behind" those "Children", "Minor Offenders, which were also Victims of Trafficking", the Dutch Expert pointed out. And, Indeed, an Efficient Investigation in that Direction, led the Police to Discover a Wide Organized Plot by Criminals, who had been Exploiting those Minors in order to systematically Commit a Great Number of Offences, without being ever exposed or cought themselves, since they were always Hidding Behind the scene
...


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+ Meanwhile, anOther, quite UnExpected Stimulus for a Better Implementation of CoE's Anti-Trafficking Convention, appeared to be the "Name and Shame" Policy against "Clients" Expoiting Human Trafficking's Victims, which Resulted into inciting Many Big Businesses to Seek some kind of "Ethical Certificates" for their Products and/or Services, showing that they Respect Basic Human Rights of their Workers throughout all the Supply Chains, (See relevant "Eurofora"s NewsReport, at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/bigbusinessandcoevhumantraffiking.html).



(../..)



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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already send, Earlier, to "Eurofora" Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap)

 

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  imag0573_400

    An "Eugenic" loophole Amendment, which might expose to Dangers reminiscent of "3rd Reich's" notorious Genetic Abuses, hidden at the last minute inside an otherwise Good, larger Health policy Package scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was strongly denounced by a coalition of MEPs from various Political Groups and Countries, in a Press Conference held this afternoon at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    Mainly calling to "Select Human Embryos", via "Genetic Counselling" and "pre-implantation" Techniques including "Genetic Tests", in order to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", it might open ways to Dangerous Practices in Future, they denounced in substance.

    But they also made it clear that a much larger Report inside which this Controversial Amendment "No 15" was added in dubious circumstances, officialy destinated to struggle against "Rare Diseases", and drafted by Professor Antonios Trakatellis, was otherwise "an Excellent Report", aiming at a "completely Uncontroversial target" of Health policy on which "all MEPs and Experts are united, believing that Europe should act" to protect People's Health (See "EuroFora"'s earlier News).

    The controversy came at a particularly delicate moment for the EU in relation to Citizens, at the eve of June 2009 EU Elections, and shortly before Ireland re-votes for "Lisbon Treaty"..    

- Denouncing risks of "an Eugenic demand, very similar to what we had during the 3rd Reich in Germany, but now coming from some Scientisists themselves", German ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Dr. Peter Liese stressed that critical MEPs were against "Eugenic" engineering with "Selection of Human Embryos", and anything which might ultimately lead up to to a "Selection of Human Race". It doesn't help to "eradicate" Human Lives, he added.


    Several Experts and NGOs expressed "Deep Concern", as f;ex. DR M.C. Cornel of the "European Society of Human Genetics", which stressed, on this occasion, that "the importance of Non-Directiveness in Reproductive issues is a Central characteristic of Human Genetics, after the Atrocities committed in the name of Genetics in the first half or the 20th Century".

     - "This is completely Unacceptable", stressed Italian Liberal MEP Vittorio Prodi, on the Controversial Amendment, also because pushes to "eliminate early Human Life", as he noted.

     - "This opens a Dangerous Road, rather a Motorway", denounced Danish MEP Mrs Margrette Auken, from the "Greens", observing that various similar attempts were made in the Past "not only in Germany, but also in several other Countries, "even at the 1970ies", "f.ex. on forced Sterilisation of Roma" People, and other criticisable situations f.ex. in the UK, in Sweden, etc. as she said.

    + Other NGOs, as f.ex. "LebenHilfe" from Berlin, added that, among various other Risks, could also be that, by exploiting the pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics and the Selection of "healthy" Embryos, some may "propagate" several "Eugenic" aims, starting f.ex. by pushing to eradicate Human Livies which might "Cost too much" to preserve, ultimately exposing to dangers reminiscent of the "3rd Reich"'s atrocious abuses.

    In consequence, ChristianDemocrats/EPP and "Green" MEPs "decided by Majority to vote against" this Controversial Amendment, anounced to Journalists the 5 MEPs who participated in the Press Conference, representing a wide spectrum, from Liberals to "Greens" and ChristianDemocrats, and from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Danemark up to Ireland (Gay Mitchell), etc.
----------------------------------
    Hungarian ChristianDemocrat MEP Laszlo Surjan said "that it was "Suddenly, at the End of the Procedure" in Committee, that "appeared this (Controversial) Amendment, which has nothing to do" with the main purpose of the Report, on which all agreed.

    He denounced an "Unhonest" move, and called to "avoid this kind of unacceptable situations". Nobody should "Select People", Surjan stressed.

    - "We (MEPs) had No Chance to Discuss" this last-minute Amendment earlier added at a Committee's level, said German MEP Peter Liese

    Speaking to "EuroFora", Dr. Liese, the Spokesman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group in EU Parliament, said that MEPs didn't oppose other references of the Report f.ex. on "Genetic Tests", because they were "no proposals" to impose them, while, on the contrary, there was "a Problem" if anyone attempted to "impose" f.ex. this or that Genetic Technique and "Genetic Counselling", etc. to the People on human reproduction.
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The precise Text :
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    Controversial parts of Amendment No 15 ask mainly "to lead finally to the Eradication" of "Hereditary" "rare diseases", "through Genetic Counselling .., and ..pre-Implantation Selection of healthy Embryos".

    But  EU Rapporteur Professor Trakatellis, said to "EuroFora" that fears should be alleviated by Guarantees that all this should be done only "where appropriate", when it's "not contrary to existing National Law", and "always on a Voluntary basis", according to other Parts of the Amendment.

    He stressed that the main aim was to allow "a free and informed choice of persons involved", without imposing them anything :  - "It's not an obligatory, but advisary" text, he said.

    To make that point clear, he was ready, in agreement with many MEPs, to eventually drop at least that part of the controversial Amendment which initially called for "efforts to ..lead finally to the Eradication of those rare diseases" "which are Hereditary".

    But, until late Wednesday evening, reportedly together with many other MEPs, he stood by all the rest of the controversial Amendment, (fex. on the "Genetic Counselling" and the "pre-implantation Selection of healthy Embryos"), so that critical MEPs, going from ChristianDemocrats as Dr. Liese, to "Greens" or "Ind/Dem", observed to "EuroFora" that "this was not enough" to close the dangerous loophole.

    Particularly since, as Professor Trakatellis noted himself, "this is already allowed to the U.K.", and "other National Legislations would probably follow, sooner or later" in a similar direction. As for a general call to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", this "should happen, at any case, in practice, de facto", to protect public Health.

    On the contrary, "our goal should be to help patients suffering from rare diseases, not to eradicate the patients. In case of genetic disease risk, the decision should not be guided by scenarios" made by politicians. "Perents who may decide to accept a child, even if handicapped or with genetic disease, must be respected and supported with solidarity", critical MEPs stated.

    - "Any Pressure" to "a patient or couple (who "should be able to make an informed choice consistent with their own values"),"from health Professionals, Public Health Policies or Governemental Institutions, or Society at large, should be avoided", stresses the "European Society for Human Genetics".

----------------------------------

Each MEP's vote will be registered !

-----------------------------------   

The Socialist Group requested a "Split vote" on the Amendment 15, first without, and afterwards with the words "lead finally to the Eradication" etc.


    But the first "split vote" leaves intact all the other parts of the Controversial Amendment, (i.e. "Genetic Counselling", "Selection of healthy Embryos", etc).

    That's why, 3 Groups of MEPs : ChristianDemocrats/EPP, "Greens/EFA", and "Ind/Dem", have asked for "Roll Call Votes", on everything regarding the Controversial Amendment No 15, and on the final outcome of the resulting Report as amended, which will register all the individual positions to be taken by each MEP.   

Something which will obviously make each MEP think twice before voting for one or another choice, to be sure that he/she will make the right choice in front of EU Citizens, particularly at these pre-Election times...


    Crucial Votes were scheduled between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. local Strasbourg time, in the middle of a long series of various other Reports, and after a long Public Debate on the larger Health policy package, from 9 to 11.50 am.

    The specific Report inside which was hidden the controversial Amendment is due to be debated between 11 and 12 am.

    So that more last-minute Surprises may not be excluded a priori...

    Particularly at the present Historic moment, when even the Institutional Future of the EU depends on the result of a second Referendum on "Lisbon Treaty", later this year, in ...Ireland, a mainly Catholic country, where People are particularly sensitive in such kind of socio-cultural and values issues...
 

      ***     
 
     (Draft due to be updated).
 
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