Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

Sales of women and girls booms in Europe

Human trafficking is booming in Europe, the Hague-based Eurojust, the EU’s crime fighting unit, said on Thursday (26 April). But the number of cases brought against traffickers is grossly disproportionate to the number of reported victims.

“Something is wrong, not enough people are being brought to justice. One thing is sure is that it is a booming business,” said Michèle Coninsx, President-elect of Eurojust. Eurojust, which co-ordinates with national judicial authorities on serious-cross border crimes, is aiming to get member states to bring more cases to it.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • Trafficking of women and girls in Europe is booming, says Eurojust. (Photo: Karin Beate Nøsterud/norden.org)

Despite the alarming numbers, Eurojust handled 74 registered cases in 2009, up from only 19 in 2004. Yet the United Nations estimates that globally, the traffic of human beings nets some €32 billion every year. In Europe, the overall profit numbers are vague but officials say the rise in trafficking is indisputably linked to the massive profit returns.

One indicator is the sharp increase of trafficking when Bulgaria and Romania joined the Union in 2007. Existing organised crime groups in Europe, some based in the Netherlands for instance, used the opportunity to lure poor and poverty-stricken girls from these countries with promises of work.

The Dutch national public prosecutor for trafficking in human beings says Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Nigeria are now the main source countries for the Netherlands. The majority of the Hungarians end up working as sex slaves and prostitutes. Others are exploited as labourers or domestic servants.

Up to 300 prostitutes work in Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. “These women are more or less victims,” said the prosecutor, explaining that some volunteer to work on the basis they can leave after a few months. When they try, they are forced to stay.

The women, who have come forward to him, claim they are then required to earn at least €1000 a night. At €50 a client, that means around 20 people in one evening.

The money is then sent to banks in Romania, Bulgaria or Nigeria. Tracing money through Nigeria’s fragmented banking system is notoriously difficult, making it even more unlikely authorities can locate and arrest the criminals at the source.

In another case, an organized crime group operating in France and Italy trafficked 100 Bulgarian women for sexual exploitation. Profits ranged to around 10 million over a four-year period. Authorities broke up the ring, but one suspect later continued his business using a fax and a telephone from inside his prison cell.

“We are talking about real people in Europe today that are being kept in slavery-like conditions. And we have a lot more EU victims being victimised in Europe,” said Myria Vassiliadou, the EU’s anti-trafficking coordinator. “Human trafficking is gender in nature and should be prosecuted as such,” she added.

A 2010 opinion by the European Commission expert group on human trafficking found that member states are not investigating these types of cases because other crimes are easier, less expensive and more practical to prosecute.

The same year, not a single member state provided statistics on the number of cases and prosecutions involving human trafficking, says Eurojust. Consequently, the unit is pushing member states to oblige them to report and better monitor human trafficking.

“The obligation already exists for terrorism, and we want that to apply it to human trafficking as well,” James Thuy, Eurojust spokesperson told EUobserver.

Eurojust, the CoE and the Commission are proposing a renewed strategy against human trafficking that aims to detect, freeze and confiscate criminal assets.

Some 70 national judicial and law enforcement authorities fighting human trafficking across the EU, are at the Eurojust office on Thursday and Friday to help define such a strategy.

“People traffic because first they don’t give a damn about human beings and second because of the money,” said Nicolas Le Coz, President of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) at the Council of Europe.

Meanwhile, member states have until 6 April 2013 to transpose the Commission’s 2011 directive on trafficking. Eurostat also plans on releasing a publication on human trafficking in all member states sometime in October.

European arrest warrant still 'delivering injustice'

Fast-track extraditions under the "European Arrest Warrant" are still landing innocent people in foreign prisons, prompting distrust among national prosecutors, with over 250 cases last year being brought to EU's judicial co-operation agency Eurojust for mediation.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron meet over migration and eurozone
  2. Salvini plans census of Roma communities
  3. Slovenia to take Croatia to court in border row
  4. Parliamentary setback over corruption in Romania
  5. Lords force new vote for UK parliament to influence Brexit
  6. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  7. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  8. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us