Saturday

23rd Sep 2017

EU countries in the dark on human trafficking

Member states lack reliable data to fully evaluate the scale of human trafficking in the EU the European Commission said on Monday (24 September).

"We have so few figures and so few reliable statistics that it is difficult to make an evaluation to see if there is a significant increase or a decrease, we can't really tell because it is such a black and grey sector," noted EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Member state statistics on human trafficking are sometimes unreliable, says the European Commission (Photo: Hans Op De Beeck)

A conservative estimate by the International Labour Organisation put the number of people trafficked worldwide to be some 20.9 million between 2002 to 2011. The UN crime-fighting office says around 2.4 million are in the process of being trafficked at any given moment.

In Europe, the numbers are difficult to assess but most victims are thought to come from Romania and Bulgaria and are most often women, children, undocumented migrants or Roma.

Differing legal standards in member states, problems associated with identifying people as victims of human trafficking and reluctance of some to testify are among the problems national authorities face when collecting data.

In other cases, member states until recently had no legislation to address the issue - Estonia became the last EU member state in April to outlaw human trafficking. People involved in the transport, recruitment and exploitation of trafficked victims can now face up to 15 years in prison.

Meanwhile, preliminary data gathered by the EU statistical office, Eurostat, found that the number of people brought to justice between 2008 and 2010 has declined. Some 79 percent of the victims recorded by the EU bureau were women and girls, with three-quarters of them trafficked for sex.

To improve data collection, the commission wants member states to set up so-called national referral mechanisms (NRM) before the end of the year.

The NRMs would compel public authorities to work with civil society to better identify, refer, protect and assist victims.

"This will produce better data, more valid data and it will also help the victims," said Myria Vassiliadou, the EU's anti-trafficking co-ordinator.

The UK launched its own NRM in 2009, with most of data coming directly from the police, a spokesperson told this website.

The UK's Serious Oragnised Crime Agency (Soca) identified 2,077 people as traffic victims in the UK in 2011, but noted in an August report that the number is probably higher. Of those, some 653 had been referred to the NRM with most of them - adults and children - trafficked for sex.

Last year - for the first time ever -"the UK's NRM cited two cases where victims had been trafficked into UK to have their organs removed and sold.

"Each case was discovered prior to surgery ... none of the persons there had any of the organs actually taken out," an NRM spokesperson told EUobserver.

The Salvation Army, based in London, also identified cases of victims brought to the UK for organ harvesting in April.

Meanwhile, Soca says it still has intelligence gaps when it comes to the transport and routing methods used by traffickers. They also lack data on the use of false documentation with some traffickers confiscating victims identify papers to commit fraud.

The European Commission, for its part, adopted an anti-trafficking directive in 2011. Member states have until April 2013 to transpose it.

The commission will then issue a report in 2016 to assess its impact.

Hungary and Poland defy EU authority

Hungary and Poland have said they "don't want a mixed population", amid a tug-of-war with the Commission on migrants and rule of law.

EU agency to fight election hacking

A new-model EU cybersecurity agency could help states defend their elections against "hybrid attacks", the Commission has said.

EU monitoring Cyprus passport sales

The European Commission has said it is in a "dialogue" with Cyprus amid concerns on loopholes in its passport sale scheme.

EU intelligence agency not a priority

Julian King, the EU commissioner for security, says talk of an EU intelligence agency would be a distraction from more pressing coounter-terrorism work.

EU monitoring Cyprus passport sales

The European Commission has said it is in a "dialogue" with Cyprus amid concerns on loopholes in its passport sale scheme.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  2. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  3. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  4. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  5. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  6. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea
  7. Tusk calls 'euro summit' in December
  8. Report: May to seek two-year EU transition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel