The European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) welcomes the 8th EU Anti-trafficking Day aimed at raising awareness of one of the most serious forms of violation of human rights and dignity of our times. Trafficking in human beings is modern day slavery and a complex form of transnational crime which can only be combated if states work together and with international actors. During its extraordinary General Assembly in the European Parliament on March 5, ECPM Board member Stieneke van der Graaf (photo) already highlighted ECPM's stance on human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
In line with the opinion voiced on March 5, ECPM calls on member states which have not already done so to implement all provisions of the EU Directive on combating human trafficking. Furthermore the ECPM encourages member states to move towards criminalizing the purchase of sex when combating trafficking for prostitution.
The number of human trafficking victims worldwide is estimated at 20.9 million (of which 5.5 million are thought to be children). Trafficking for prostitution is by far the largest sector of this criminal activity, with 75% of identified cases being victims of sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is a very profitable form of crime for the perpetrators, generating profits estimated at dozens of billions of euro a year.
The European Union has made notable efforts over the years to enable joint action by its member states in tackling human trafficking. The EU Directive on combating human trafficking sets the foundation to EU policy in this area. It sets minimum standards for provisions for victims of trafficking, such as non prosecution of victims and special provisions for their protection and support, recognising in particular the increased vulnerability of child victims. Furthermore, the European Commission has committed to submitting a report by April 2016 establishing as a criminal offence the use of services which are the objects of exploitation of trafficking in human beings.
In this light, the ECPM supports efforts of member states to ensure that the issue of demand is adequately addressed and encourages all member states to consider adopting legislation that criminalizes the use of services of trafficked people, in particular those trafficked for sexual exploitation.