Sunday

16th Dec 2018

Child trafficking in EU on the rise

  • Over 2,300 children were registered victims of human trafficking in the EU in 2013 and 2014 (Photo: Ira Gelb)

The EU is grappling with a spike in children trafficked for sex and other forms of slavery, according to experts.

"We have children being sold, we have women who are trafficked because they are pregnant in order for someone to buy their baby and sell it to the illegal market," Myria Vassiliadou, the European anti-trafficking coordinator, told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (19 May).

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.

... or join as a group

  • Some children are forced to beg, others sold to criminal gangs (Photo: Council of Europe)

A small child is worth anywhere between €4,000 to €8,000 but in some cases up to €40,000.

Many are forced into sexual abuse, begging or delinquency with some taken away from impoverished families by criminal gangs as a form of debt relief.

Denmark, Lithuania, Sweden, and Slovakia have all reported an increase in children forced into committing crimes.

Around 2,375 children were registered as victims of human trafficking in the EU in 2013 to 2014 but the figures are likely much higher. The overall number, including adults, is 15,846.

Around two-thirds of all the registered victims are EU citizens. Most come from Bulgaria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania. Others are brought in from Albania, China, Morocco, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

"Some people say it is the tip of the iceberg," noted Vassiliadou.

Fears are also mounting that children arriving in the EU seeking asylum may end up being trafficked. The EU commission cites research that suggests around 60 percent of all unaccompanied minors have gone missing from member state reception centres.

The EU police agency Europol earlier this year estimated at least 10,000 migrant children are missing.

Removal of organs

While almost all those who fall prey to traffickers are exploited for sex, around 12 percent end up in an "other" category that includes organ removal, forced begging, and turning others into drug mules.

"We are talking about people who have been forced into having their organs removed and either not being paid at the end or end up dying and people buying organs in the black market without asking where these organs come from," she said.

The grim figures are part of much larger report on victims of human trafficking in the EU published on Thursday by the EU commission .

The annex of the report notes organ removals in Bulgaria and Sweden, organ trafficking in Italy, and organ harvesting in the UK.

Vassiliadou was unable to provide more details on the organ crimes when pressed but said figures are likely to be disclosed in a separate report from the EU's statistical office Eurostat before the end of next year.

"We are not talking about organ trade here, we are talking about the trafficking of people for the purpose of organ removal," she noted.

Member states in 2011 transposed an EU directive to fight human trafficking. But only around half consider it a crime, depending on the severity of the case like labour exploitation, should someone knowingly exploit the services of a victim.

"So you can use the services of the victim of trafficking and you are not criminalised," said Vassiliadou.

An article (18.4) in the directive only instructs member states to consider criminalising people who exploit such services.

Criminal networks are reaping billions in profits. Few are prosecuted and sent to prison. Around 4,000 were prosecuted in 2013 and 2014 with just over 3,100 convicted of human trafficking.

EU police issue warning on lost child refugees

EU police forces say that the 10,000 child refugees, who vanished off the grid after coming to Europe, are at risk of sexual and labour exploitation by criminal gangs.

Opinion

Strengthening child protection in the EU and globally

The way forward to ensure the protection of children globally is through a long list of small steps that governments must take to ensure no child in Europe or anywhere else suffers a life of abuse, exploitation or fear.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us