Ms Vassiliadou spent the day meeting with the College of Eurojust, the Presidency Team and the Trafficking and Related Crimes Team. Ms Vassiliadou expressed her wish to discuss the possibilities for stepping up the fight against trafficking in human beings. She emphasized the importance of successful THB prosecutions in the Member States and the essential role of Eurojust in facilitating international judicial cooperation.
Ms Michèle Coninsx, President of Eurojust, underlined the good level of cooperation between Eurojust and the EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator and welcomed the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 (EU Strategy) shortly to be presented by Ms Vassiliadou. Ms Coninsx stressed that the fight against THB has always been one of the main priorities of Eurojust.
In 2012, Eurojust carried out the Strategic Project “Eurojust action against trafficking in human beings” to identify obstacles to investigating and prosecuting cross-border cases in this crime area and to come up with possible solutions to overcome them. Ms Vassiliadou was informed on the follow-up of Eurojust’s Action Plan on Trafficking in Human Beings (THB), and was updated on a specific THB case illustration.
Both Eurojust and Ms Vassiliadou concurred that support provided by Eurojust through funding and providing operational assistance to the setting up of Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) in THB cases and the expert advice of Eurojust with regard seizure and confiscation should be promoted to achieve better practical operational results. She expressed her support for Eurojust in its efforts together with other EU actors and civil society in a multi-disciplinary approach to this crime phenomenon.
From L to R in second photo above: Michèle Coninsx (President of Eurojust), Myria Vassiliadou (EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator)
& Lukáš Starý (Eurojust contact point for THB)
Ms Vassiliadou took the time to speak with Eurojust’s Press Officer.
Eurojust: What is the purpose of your visit to Eurojust today?
Ms Vassiliadou: To show my support and appreciation for the work of Eurojust, particularly in the context of their action plan on trafficking in human beings.
What is the most important issue your office is facing?
I would like to raise three issues: to ensure the collection of valid and reliable data on the victims and perpetrators of THB, leading to the secure prosecution and conviction of traffickers. Another important issue is to stimulate the use of financial investigations in trafficking in human beings cases to follow the money flows to better identify the extent of criminal networks, the scale of criminality and how to develop evidence which can be used in criminal proceedings and for the recovery of assets. This involves different specialised law enforcement units; good cooperation between them is essential. The last issue I would mention is to address the reduction of demand for all forms of this horrible phenomenon of contemporary slavery.
Will you do this soon?
Yes. In fact, on Monday 15 April, there will be a press conference with the EU Commissioner, Ms Cecilia Malmström, addressing the latest initiatives taken by the Commission. The deadline for transposition of the Directive by the Member States now passed (6 April). The Commission will present a report on data collection at the EU level and a comprehensive overview of EU rights of victims of trafficking in human beings.
What can Eurojust do to assist you?
Eurojust can provide support to include financial investigations in THB cases and support efforts of Member States to work in a truly multi-disciplinary way, working alongside stakeholders such as the police, customs, border guards, immigration, NGOs and labour inspectors.
THB developments at Eurojust
The fight against THB continues to be one of Eurojust’s priorities. Eurojust ensures ongoing follow up of the Joint Statement of the Heads of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies, published in Warsaw in October 2011 and signed by former Eurojust President, Aled Williams.
The publication of the Final report and action plan of The Strategic Project on Eurojust’s action against trafficking in human beings, is one example of the follow up of Eurojust’s obligations under the Joint Statement. The Report was first presented at the European Anti-trafficking Day in Brussels in October 2012.
Eurojust has actively participated in a considerable number of seminars, meetings and events with the central theme of the fight against THB. Eurojust’s contact point for THB is Mr Lukáš Starý, National Member for the Czech Republic. Mr Starý was appointed in May 2012.
Mandate and tasks of the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator
The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator (ATC) was appointed by the European Commission in December 2010 and took up her official duties in March 2011. Among her responsibilities are the provision of an overall strategic policy orientation in the field of THB, with a view to improving coordination and coherence amongst EU institutions such as Eurojust and contributing to the expansion of existing or new EU policies of relevance to THB, particularly with third States.
The ATC also monitors the implementation of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016) (the EU Strategy). The five key priorities of the EU Strategy are:
- Member States are called upon to conduct financial investigations in THB cases with support from agencies such as Eurojust;
- National authorities are to create JITs, where relevant, and involve Eurojust (and Europol) in all cross-border trafficking cases;
- Member States should make full use of EU agencies and share information with a view to increasing the number and quality of cross-border investigations;
- Member States should cooperate with Eurojust in the implementation of the future Eurojust Action Plan against trafficking in human beings.
In the EU Directive 2011/36/EU on prevention and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims (the THB Directive), Member States are requested to transmit to the ATC, the information referred to in Article 19 (such as the carrying out of assessments of trends in THB and the measuring of results of anti-trafficking actions). The ATC will then report to the European Commission on progress every two years, on the basis of information received under Article 19.
The European Commission’s anti-trafficking website was created and launched in 2011.