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Stronger EU action is needed to eradicate trafficking in human beings, say S&Ds to the Commission


Justice & Home Affairs

Strasbourg, 17 January 2018

At the request of S&D Euro MPs, the European Commission will later today have to answer on their actions to fight against trafficking in human beings. According to Commission figures, 76% of registered victims of human trafficking are women and at least 15% are children. Trafficking for sexual exploitation (67%) is still the most widespread form, followed by labour exploitation (21%) which is on the rise, with agriculture being one of the high-risk areas. S&D MEPs have led calls for better identification, treatment and support for victims as well as harsher penalties for traffickers and those who exploit victims.

Anna Hedh, S&D MEP and spokesperson for human trafficking, said:

“Trafficking in human beings is a modern form of slavery and a gender issue. 4 out of 5 victims of trafficking are women. Of these, the vast majority are trafficked for sexual exploitation and prostitution. 

“The fight against trafficking in human beings requires close co-operation between member states, but also stronger action by the Commission. Clearly, there is a need for more financial and human resources to be allocated to the implementation of the 2011 directive to fight against trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation, as well as for the protection of victims. I was very disappointed that the Commission only issued a communication and not a new EU strategy to combat this very serious cross-border crime. We call on the Commission to present a fully-fledged EU strategy against human trafficking to end this form of modern slavery once and for all.”

S&D Group spokesperson for women’s rights and gender equality, Iratxe García Pérez MEP, added:

"Most victims of human trafficking are forced into prostitution, yet, a growing number of women are also trafficked for the purpose of labour exploitation, especially in the agricultural sector. In June last year an S&D fact-finding missing to Ragusa, Sicily, found that especially Romanian women are trafficked to Italy. These women face horrendous working and living conditions; they are forced to harvest crops on the fields for twelve hours in extreme heat without water; are hosted in shacks; often denied their meagre pay and only too often subjected to physical and sexual violence. It is shameful that this modern day slavery exists in 21st century Europe, and that profits are made from exploitation.

S&D MEPs have led calls for better identification, treatment and support for victims as well as harsher penalties for traffickers and those who exploit victims and we will continue to fight until trafficking in human beings is eradicated once and for all.”

Note to the editor:
In 2011, the EU adopted a directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. The text was due to be transposed by EU member states by 6 April 2013. In 2016, MEPs assessed current European legislation to combat human trafficking and recommended several measures to improve the situation in two resolutions adopted in May and July. MEPs called on EU countries to better implement existing laws and provide better support to victims. The Parliamentary question to the European Commission can be found here.