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Press releases

27 prosecuted for trafficking children

The Hague, 16 April 2010

In 2006, a case between Romania and the United Kingdom was opened at Eurojust, involving an organised criminal network trafficking children from Romania to the UK, with the aim of exploiting them to commit crimes (mainly stealing and begging).

A Joint Investigating Team (JIT) was set up in 2008; the JIT Agreement was signed at the Eurojust’s headquarters in The Hague on 1 September 2008. The purpose was, through the intervention and facilitation of Eurojust, to co-ordinate arrests of leaders of the organised criminal network, to confiscate their properties and to obtain important means of evidence from the destination country and vice versa, and to prosecute the members of the network and send them to trial.

The JIT allowed the establishment of a common plan of action between the national and international actors involved, with Europol providing analytical support and Eurojust clarifying the differences between the two legal systems and advising on where best to prosecute, taking into consideration the different evidentiary requirements of the two countries.

The JIT received substantial European Commission funding. Due to the differences between civil and common law systems, additional assistance from Eurojust had been requested. Some criminals already appeared before the UK courts in 2009.

Last Thursday, 8 April 2010, a large operation was organised in Romania, with the support of 120 Romanian police officers and 200 gendarmes together with 26 officers from the London Metropolitan Police and 2 intelligence analysts from Europol. They conducted 34 home searches simultaneously.

Eurojust has coordinated several meetings between UK judicial authorities and the Romanian prosecutors of the Organised Crime and Terrorism Investigation Directorate (DIICOT).

The children were recruited from poor communities in rural areas. The members of the criminal group arranged for the children’s accommodation and transport, obtained the travel documents, organised and supervised the criminal activities in the UK and collected the money obtained by the victims. So far, more than 160 victims, aged between 7 and 15 years, have been identified.

As a result, 27 people are prosecuted for trafficking in minors, participation in an organised criminal group and money laundering, 17 being currently under arrest.

BACKGROUND:
A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is an investigation team set up on the basis of an agreement between two or more Member States and/or other parties, for a specific purpose and limited duration. Exchange of information can be immediate. JIT members can be present at house searches, interviews, etc. in all jurisdictions covered, helping to overcome language barriers. JITs allow Europol and Eurojust to be involved by providing direct support and assistance, and EU funding is possible.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Joannes THUY, Spokesperson - Head of Press & PR Service
EUROJUST, Maanweg 174, 2516 AB, The Hague, the Netherlands
Tel +31 70 412 5508
E-mail: jthuy[AT]eurojust.europa.eu