[JURIST] The European Commission on Tuesday announced its plan [text, PDF; press release] to end human trafficking in Europe. The commission said that human trafficking [EU backgrounder; JURIST news archive] is “the slavery of our times,” noting that people of all ages are abducted and sold for sexual slavery, domestic servitude and other forms of exploitation. The commission identified poverty, gender inequality and social unrest as key factors leading to risk of human trafficking. The new strategy, which consists of a 40-point plan to be implemented over the next five years, involves the commitment of member states to five main goals:
- Identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking
- Stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings
- Increased prosecution of traffickers
- Enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence
- Increased knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings
The commission stressed that the EU member states must continue to put forth individual efforts to combat human trafficking within their countries. The new plan is designed to complement and assist efforts of individual governments.
Human trafficking has become an increasingly scrutinized issue around the world in recent years. In April, UN officials at a special General Assembly meeting urged the international community to strengthen collaborative efforts [JURIST report] to combat human trafficking. In August the UN Special Rapporteur on human trafficking urged Thailand [JURIST report] to crack down on human trafficking, especially with regard to children subjected to sexual and labor exploitation. In September 2010, the US Department of Justice brought charges [JURIST report] against six people in the largest US case of human trafficking. In June 2010, the UNODC issued a memorandum that human trafficking is becoming a major problem in Europe [JURIST report]. Also that month, the US State Department released its annual report on human trafficking, concluding [JURIST report] that the US has a “serious problem with human trafficking, both for labor and commercial sexual exploitation.”