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UN and European anti-trafficking experts join forces to fight trafficking in persons in Europe and beyond

STRASBOURG / GENEVA (5 July 2013) – Two key international anti-trafficking expert mechanisms have combined forces to strengthen the fight against trafficking in human beings in Europe and beyond. Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour exploitation, including human trafficking, across the world, of which almost a million in the European Union member States, according to estimate by the International Labour Organisation.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, and the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) consolidated their standing cooperation in the first ever meeting to discuss innovative and effective joint actions, and enhance information-sharing to fight the phenomenon of human trafficking.

“Fifteen anti-trafficking experts underpin GRETA’s great strength, as they all bring a wide range of expertise and specialization,” Ms. Ezeilo said. “This richness and diversity can only enhance an integrated approach to fight the multidimensional scourge of human trafficking in Europe and beyond.”

Ms. Ezeilo’s remarks came at a special meeting organised by GRETA in Strasbourg, France, to discuss key issues related to the national level application of the definition of trafficking, and specific groups at risk of being trafficked like children. The anti-trafficking experts also exchanged ideas to strengthen synergies between the work of these two mechanisms.

“GRETA, the independent mechanism monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, is grateful to the UN Special Rapporteur for promoting worldwide the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and its high standards in the field of protection of the victims of this gross violation of human rights,” said GRETA’s President Nicolas Le Coz.

“The Convention, which currently applies to 40 countries in Europe, and GRETA’s reports have become a source of inspiration for UN bodies as well as regional organizations and must resonate beyond Europe through our joint efforts,” he noted.

“I look forward to continuing to engage with the GRETA experts in order to strengthen the effectiveness of our collective quest to end human trafficking – a modern day slavery, growing in scale and in terms of human rights repercussions,” added the UN Special Rapporteur. “I value the longstanding cooperation my mandate and GRETA have nurtured throughout these years.”

The meeting between the two mechanisms falls in the broader context of a coordinated approach to combating trafficking with and among regional and sub-regional mechanisms identified in Ms. Ezeilo’s report* to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2010, a report developed with inputs from many regional and sub-regional anti-trafficking bodies including GRETA .

This report and its recommendations were further discussed among regional anti-trafficking experts, including GRETA, at a consultation held in Dakar in 2010. There the experts highlighted the need for an effective coordination of various anti-trafficking initiatives and enhanced cooperation among all actors involved in combating trafficking in order to maximise available resources and minimise duplication.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.32.pdf or   


Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (Nigeria) started her mandate as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children in August 2008. She is independent from any government and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has served in various governmental capacities and consulted for various international organizations. She has published extensively on a variety of topics, including human rights, women’s rights, and Sharia law. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/TraffickingIndex.aspx

Read the 2012 report on the issue of human trafficking in supply chains:

“Criminalise trafficking” - Watch the Special Rapporteur on UN Human Rights YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkFyQqW_sDU

For more information and media requests, please contact Federica Donati (+ 41 22 917 94 96 / fdonati@ohchr.org ) or write to srtrafficking@ohchr.org

GRETA, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, is responsible for monitoring implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by the Parties. It draws up country-by-country reports containing a detailed analysis of the action against human trafficking and providing proposals concerning the way in which the authorities can strengthen their efforts in this field. GRETA is composed of 15 members who are independent and impartial experts from a variety of backgrounds. Learn more, log on to:

For more information, please contact the Anti-Trafficking Division of the Council of Europe at Trafficking@coe.int

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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