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“Protect the rights of victims of trafficking during migration” – UN rights expert urges Europe

European Anti-Trafficking Day – Sunday 18 October 2015

GENEVA (15 October 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, today called on European Union Institutions and individual European States to prevent trafficking and protect the rights of people at risk, particularly in relation with the unprecedented numbers of people migrating to Europe.

Speaking ahead of the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, the independent expert urged the European Union to ensure that Member States' anti-trafficking policies are not negatively affected by restrictive and exclusionary immigration policies which are not effective and further heighten risks for trafficking and exploitation.

“Over the past 15 years, the EU has devoted many efforts to the prevention and fight against trafficking in persons. However, it is imperative today to acknowledge that not only specific anti-trafficking policies but all related policies and especially migration policies must be consistent with the priority of preventing and eradicating trafficking and exploitation.

I urge European Union Institutions and individual Member States to ensure that the rights of victims of trafficking, including access to justice and compensation are not negatively impacted by these policies.

Conflicts, emergency crisis situations and poverty can indirectly and directly fuel trafficking as people are pushed to migrate in unsafe and vulnerable conditions where they are often subjected to abuse and exploitation.

Tens of thousands of people are currently on the move: victims of trafficking, refugees, asylum seekers, children traveling alone, migrants travelling along similar routes, using similar means of travel. Each one has a reason, but a common destination is Europe.

An estimated 2,500 have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year alone. Some of those surviving their perilous journey through land and sea often fall prey to criminal or unscrupulous recruiters and employers, who traffic them for purposes of labour, sexual or other types of slave-like exploitations in transit and destination countries.

On the 9th European Anti-trafficking Day, I also urge the European Union to commit to the prevention and eradication of exploitation and trafficking, especially of women and children, in any of the sectors this takes place in such as agriculture, construction, fishery, domestic work, the touristic industry and the sex industry.”

Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro (Italy) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014, to promote the prevention of trafficking in persons in all its forms, and to encourage measures to uphold and protect the human rights of victims. Ms. Giammarinaro has been a Judge since 1991 and currently serves as a Pre-Trial Judge at the Criminal Court of Rome. She was the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the OSCE, and served in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security in Brussels, where she was responsible for combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. She drafted the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/TraffickingIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Selma Vadala (svadala@ohchr.org / +41 22 917 9108) or write to srtrafficking@ohchr.org

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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