New EP reports on human trafficking

A new report on preventing and combating human trafficking has been debated this morning in the European Parliament. This afternoon, MEPs will vote on it during the plenary session in Strasbourg. ECPM welcomes this new opportunity and urges for a criminalization of all involved in the act of buying and selling human beings.

On the 27th of April, the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) voted on an Own Initiative Report of rapporteur Catherine Bearder (ALDE). The report focuses on the implementation of the Directive 2011/36/EU, on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims from a gender perspective[1]. The report underlines that a “one size fits all” approach is not efficient and calls for specific and tailored policy measures for each aspect of trafficking in Human Beings (Recital F) as well as gender specific measures (Paragraph 3).

Unfortunately, the systematic recognition of the so-called “right to access to safe abortion services for female victims of the trafficking in human beings” is also included in these gender specific measures (Paragraph 71). ECPM regrets that this phrase is in the report, given the alternatives available on how to deal with unwanted pregnancy, such as counseling. The report also points out the need of greater coordination with non-EU countries (with the help of the EEAS, the European External Action Service) and calls for a more effective implementation of the 2011 Directive, especially in the field of the identification of victims.

It is sad that several amendments aiming to include surrogacy in the categories of human trafficking, of which some were tabled by ECPM members, were voted against. On the other hand, it is encouraging that the report makes favorable references to the Nordic model:

Paragraph 50: “Emphasizes the data which confirm the deterrent effect that criminalization of the purchase of sexual services has had in Sweden….”

Paragraph 51: “…believes that demand reduction can be achieved through legislation that shifts the criminal burden onto those who purchase the sexual services of trafficked persons rather than onto those who sell it.”

ECPM has urged since long that the best solution to combat human trafficking is to encourage member states to criminalize the purchase of sex in all circumstances. We are therefore glad to see the Nordic model mentioned in the Bearder Report.

Furthermore, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) is currently debating an Own Initiative Report of rapporteur Barbara Lochbihler (Greens/EFA) on the fight against trafficking in human beings in the EU’s external relations[2]. It focuses on the lack of legislation on Trafficking in many countries as well as on the lack of identification procedures and a protection framework. For this report, many amendments have been tabled against surrogacy as an aspect of human trafficking. The vote in the committee is scheduled on the 23rd of May and the Foreign Affairs Committee is generally friendly on the topics of human dignity and prolife issues. We are hopeful for a good outcome - those reports are encouraging factors in our continuous fight against human trafficking.

 

 

[1] All the versions of the report as well as the amendments tabled can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2015/2118(INI)&l=en

[2] All the versions of the report as well as the amendments tabled can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2015/2340(INI)&l=en

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