IOM has welcomed the launch of the EU’s Strategy to Eradicate Trafficking in Human Beings.
The strategy, which covers the period 2012-2016, prioritises identifying and assisting victims of trafficking, increasing the prosecution of traffickers, enhancing cooperation with key actors and organizations in the fight against trafficking, increasing the knowledge base on all aspects of the issue, and stepping up prevention measures.
One of the key measures of the new strategy is the establishment of national law enforcement units specialised in human trafficking and the creation of joint European investigation teams to prosecute cross-border trafficking cases.
"Unfortunately slavery hasn't yet been left to the history books. It is appalling to see that in our times human beings are still being put up for sale and being trafficked into forced labour or prostitution. Ensuring that victims can get support and bringing traffickers to justice is at the heart of our actions. We are far from there yet, but we can have only one aim: to eradicate trafficking in human beings", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Home Affairs Commissioner.
"IOM fully backs the five key priority areas identified in the EU strategy and will actively cooperate with the EU Institutions and Member States in working to implement the measures defined in the strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings," said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.
IOM also welcomed the European Commission's continued dedication to a victim-centered and human rights based approach. “In line with this, we will continue to engage our resources and expertise in service to the individual men, women and child victims or potential victims of trafficking, re-trafficking and exploitation," said IOM Regional Director for Europe Bernd Hemingway.
IOM has been working globally since 1994 to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings. It has implemented more than 800 counter-trafficking projects in over 100 countries and in 2011 alone, had 241 active projects. Of a global total of 5,498 IOM counter trafficking interventions in 2011, some 1,606 were in Europe.
IOM protects and assists vulnerable migrants (including children) who have been trafficked, re-trafficked, exploited or abused by providing direct assistance to victims.
The organisation also addresses the demand for goods and services provided by victims of trafficking and works with the private sector to ensure that suppliers adhere to ethical standards and protect migrant workers from abuse and exploitation.
The EU Strategy makes specific reference to IOM's "Buy Responsibly" information campaign, which urges consumers to play a greater role in ending human trafficking (www.buyresponsibly.org). Developed with Saatchia & Satchi Simko in Geneva, it aims to change consumer behavior and asks: "What Lies Behind the Things We Buy?'
The global scale of human trafficking is difficult to quantify, but organized criminal groups are known to be earning billions of dollars in profits from exploiting their victims.