European Law Monitor

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MEPs call for a EU action plan to fight human trafficking

The European Parliament considers that all measures implemented by the EU to reduce human trafficking have been unsuccessful and call on the Commission and the Member States to adopt an action plan to prevent and combat this criminal activity. In adopting the own-initiative report by Edit Bauer (EPP-ED, SK), MEPs call for a new EU strategy to fight trafficking in human beings.

The EP propose to adopt a more coherent approach and to implement an Action Plan that should involve all relevant policies, such as migration, gender, employment social and neighbourhood policy. The report asks, in fact, to take into account all forms of human trafficking, including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, illegal adoptions, forced domestic servitude and selling of human organs.
Parliament proposes that victims of human trafficking should be granted short-term residence permits, including a recovery period of no less than 30 days and access to legal assistance. MEPs also call on the Commission to establish a multilingual hotline with a single European number to provide first assistance. In the approved recommendation, Member States are asked to provide all victims with access to education and training programmes during the criminal and administrative procedures that regard their cases. Finally, MEPs also propose that victims should not be returned in their home country if they may suffer further harm.
As far as labour exploitation is concerned, MEPs recommend extremely severe penalties to be imposed on those companies employing cheap labour force supplied through human trafficking. Moreover, Member States are asked to improve labour inspections and harmonise the penalisation on labour exploitation.
MEPs also ask the Commission to present, no later than 2007, a study on the casual correlation between legislation on prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation. In addition, Member States should encourage codes of conduct to be implemented by the tourism industry and internet providers to fight human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Finally, as far as child trafficking is concerned, MEPs ask Member States to respect the UN definition of child; i.e. any individual below the age of 18. They also propose that debates on human trafficking should be part of education in schools as a means to raise awareness and prevent child trafficking. MEPs also ask the Commission to address the problem of child trafficking in the sport sector, particularly in cases where some clubs may offer contracts to very young children.