Monday

23rd Jan 2017

Human trafficking is 'modern day slavery'

Human trafficking is the slavery of our times with the victims a tiny cog in a corruption machine that involves highly-organised criminal gangs working across several member states, say experts.

Addressing a special committee on crime at the European Parliament on Tuesday (19 February), the EU’s anti-trafficking coordinator Myria Vassiliadou told euro-deputies that “those capable of controlling the entire trafficking process, including high end corruption and money laundering” are behind human trafficking.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The victims are most often society's vulnerable (Photo: Hans Op De Beeck)

The victims are most often society’s vulnerable.

Children forced into begging, girls prostituted against their will, desperate others seeking honest work but then caught up in sweat shop conditions are among the more common profiles of the trafficked.

“It is the slavery of our times,” said Vassiliadou.

The criminal gangs involved have well-established logistical bases and contacts in source, transit, and destination countries, says the EU police agency Europol.

Crooked cops

Some of those contacts are corrupt police officers in member states, said Francois Farcy, a director in Belgium’s Federal Police, at a separate panel on intelligence led policing against organised transnational crime.

“There are corrupt policemen in every member state,” said Farcy.

His statement was backed by Oliver Huth of the Federal German Association of Detective Officers and Crime Investigators. He noted that police corruption has both national and international dimensions.

Drew Harris from the UK’s crime operations department suggested police investigators working on sensitive cases should be vetted throughout their careers to guarantee integrity.

Human trafficking is a lucrative business.

Estimates on the global profit generated every year hovers at around €25 billion.

“We need to take away the financial incentives and go after the organised criminal networks,” said Vassiliadou.

Fake art and money laundering

The cash flow generated is then laundered. Banks, insurance companies, and money transfer services are the most common vehicles.

But there are other more elaborate techniques.

In some cases, criminals convert cash into casino chips and then back again after having gambled a small amount. Online casino sites offer additional protection because the servers which host them and their virtual accounts are often hidden or shielded.

Others hold fake art auctions. The criminal transfers the amount to be laundered to a contact who then buys the fake art. The sale makes the money legitimate.

Fictitious trials are also used to launder money.

The gang sets up two companies. One then sues the other for an alleged breach of contract accompanied by a claim for compensation.

The defendant company then agrees to the demands of the plaintiff. The illicit cash is transferred through the court system and then becomes legitimate.

The European Commission, for its part, has tabled a number of EU laws to stem money laundering.

In early February, the Brussels-executive proposed a legislative update to improve the so-called third anti-money laundering directive launched in 2006. The proposal also aims to improve the funds transfer regulation.

The updated directive proposals drop the current threshold of cash payments. Those exchanging a minimum of €7,500 in cash are now flagged, down from the original €15,000.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden to host EU social summit
  2. US Congress may Trump-proof Russia sanctions
  3. Fury over UK 'cover up' of failed missile test
  4. Theresa May: I will not be afraid to stand up to Trump
  5. Brexit will destroy NI peace deal, says Gerry Adams
  6. EU housing price increase by 4.3%
  7. EU trade chief says UK deal will take 'couple of years'
  8. German defence spending boost not enough for Nato goal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  2. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  3. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  4. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  5. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  6. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  7. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  8. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  9. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  10. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  11. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London

Latest News

  1. Future of euro on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Pope warns populism could lead to 'saviours' like Hitler
  3. How the EU can protect the world’s forest by tackling corruption
  4. Leftist newcomer takes lead in French Socialist primary
  5. Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections
  6. Trump pledges US-first foreign policy
  7. GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room
  8. Trump: New sheriff in town