Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

EU pledges strong action to stop trafficking

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A new European strategy aimed at stemming the flow of women, men and children trafficked across the continent, has been welcomed by Catherine Bearder MEP for South-East England.

It came as Catherine hosted the Fighting Human Trafficking event at the European Parliament earlier on 20 June.

A team of female rowers who took part in the anti-trafficking awareness and fund-raising event “Row for Freedom” travelled to Brussels to speak about becoming the first all-female crew to cross the Atlantic.

The European Commission has agreed to adopt the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016).  The strategy will be discussed by the European Parliament and Council, while the Commission will report on progress every two years.

It included setting up national law enforcement units specialising in human trafficking and a joint European investigation team to prosecute cross-border trafficking cases.

Catherine said: “Slavery has not been consigned to the history books. It is appalling human beings are still being put up for sale and trafficked into forced labour or prostitution.”

In the South East, police recently made a number of arrests following the discovery of a suspected child sex ring., while two teenagers who disappeared in Worthing in April were thought to have been victims of a trafficking gang.

Recent estimates from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) suggested there were 20.9 million victims of trafficking around the world and Europol has said children forced into criminal activities such as begging and shoplifting are traded for around €20,000  each. The European Commission has also recently release harrowing testimony from trafficking victims.

Julia Immonen, who was part of the Row for Freedom crew and runs the charity Sport Against Trafficking, spoke at Catherine’s event. said: “Row for Freedom was an extraordinary opportunity to raise global awareness about human trafficking. The emerging stories of people inspired to make a difference is overwhelming. Catherine has supported us from the offset and this has really helped strengthen our campaign.”

Catherine added: “People are becoming more and more aware of this previously unreported crime and they are not willing to see it ignored any-more.”