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Inicio 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

Escrito por ACM
22.05.18

 

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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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Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, speaking  to "EuroFora", denied rumors on Turkey's attempts to avoid an EU check of its obligations on Cyprus on December 2009 by blackmailing Nicosia to either accept any deal with intransigeant Turkish claims contrary to EU values on the island's political issue, or face threats against the territorial integriy of the EU island, semi-occupied by Ankara's army.

On the contrary, the incoming EU President-in-office, speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", promissed that he will act for EU Council's decisions on December 2009 assessment of Turkey's commitments on Cyprus to be kept.


    Bildt was asked to react to Cyprus' President Christofias' denunciation, earlier this week, that some want to exert "pressure" on Cyprus in order for Turkey to escape from its obligations.

    Avoiding to mention any precise Deadline, Bildt, however, warned about "Consequences" in case of "failure" to reunite Cyprus, but without saying whose responsibility an eventual deadlock might be.  

 Asked by "EuroFora" if there is a risk for "Turkey's commitments to "be forgotten or downgraded", "despite crystal-clear EU Council decisions and EU Parliament's latest Resolution on the assessment to make at the end of this year on Turkey's obligations", according to rumours that, instead of pressing Turkey, on the contrary, there might be "pressure on Cyprus", even "blackmail", as Media reported and President Christofias denounced this week, Bildt denied :

- "No ! ", he clearly replied.


- On the contrary, invited by "EuroFora", to "reassure that the Swedish EU Presidency (7-12/2009) will keep a fair stance, based on principles",  Bildt promised that "we (Swedish EU Presidency) will be very clear on all of the decisions taken by the (EU) Council".

He added, however, that "we have very numerous decisions that have been taken" by EU Council, as if he warned, also, on something else.

- "'I am not aware of any sort of statements coming out today''", Bildt started to say, on our reference to Cyprus' President Christofias" denunciation of Turkish lobby's manoeuvers this week, replying earlier to 'another"EuroFora"'s question during a Press Conference at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.


 - '"I know the issues that you' are concerned with'", he added, remembering  the statements he gave us when Sweden was chairing the PanEuropean CoE on 2008.

- "But, obviously, .. I think that Cyprus' Peace negotiations are extremenly important".

- And "'I think that we are at a unique moment in History, in the sens that both (Cyprus') President Christofias and Mr. Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader), are personally convinced of the need to overcome the division".

 - "It's 20 Years since the fall of Berlin Wal, but we still have a Capital in Europe (Nicosia) that's divided". ,

- 'I don't that we should loose any time in overcoming that"..

 - ''We should be aware of the fact that success will bring great benefits, but failure, will also have major consequences. There will not be Status Quo' " It's a question of seeking a solution, or entering another situation, which is somewhat difficult to see exactly how that could evolve", he warned.

- "That being said, this is a negotiation for Cyprus itself", Bildt admitted.

 - ''We (EU) can support, the (EU) Commission primarily, be technically helpful, and then, of course, there is a specific role for the UN, when it comes to the Cyprus' situation".  

- "At least so far. It might not be for ever'. Certainly not for ever, but for this period of time", Bildt added, skiping now any reference to concrete threats on UNO's Peace keeping force in face of more than 40.000 Ankara's soldiers, contrary to some Press claims, (See previous NewsReports).


     Replying to another "EuroFora"'s Question,  if anyone might attempt to "impose a Deadline for the conclusion" of Cyprus' Talks on December 2009, Bildt avoided to speak of any precise Time-frame, and indirectly evoked the fact that  35 Years of Turkish Invasion/Occupation obviously durated too long :

'- "If I was from Cyprus, I would say that the Deadline was Yesterday ! '",
Bildt concluded.

Cyprus' Government Spokesman, Stephanou, reportedly pointed out that "a settlement is possible on December if Turkey changes its stance", accepting a solution for the reunification of the island based on UNO resolutiona and EU principles.

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Earlier, EU Chair, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld, highlighted an "historic opportunity" to "re-Unite" Cyprus according to EU's "basic Values"' (i.e. Human Rights) and 'Rules'", in a last-minute change of his draft speech to EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The initial Draft spoke only about "healing" the island.

    Significantly, Reinfeldt linked Cyprus' reunification with Turkey's obligations to respect EU's "Values" and "follow" EU's "common Rules" :

    - What is "called Membership Negotiations" should lead, "at- the end of the day", into "sharing a set of common Basic Values (i.e. Human Rights, Democracy, etc), and following common Rules", stressed Reinfeld from the outset.
    
    - "This is something that those on the Outside (of the EU), are now  contemplating", up "to Ankara", for "a solution" on "Cyprus", observed the EU Chairman, immediately afterwards..  

    - "Both sides of Cyprus have been granted a historic opportunity to together reach an agreement on a solution to re-Unite the island, that has been divided for far too long", said Reinfeldt, modifying his draft text.


-  "The Swedish Presidency will act ...in accordance with Commitments EU has made, on the basis of Criteria that apply", "as a Honest Broker", he promised.    

- "To those on the inside (of the EU), allowing the membership process to become an opportunity to solve protracted disputes, can be tempting", he added.


    "In such cases, we must find solutions that can benefit both sides, and open up a way forward. Otherwise, it would jeopardize the progress we have made towards EU integration", Reinfeldt said.

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