Tackling trafficking in human beings (THB) calls for further cooperation at EU level, including in financial investigations, finds Eurojust’s Final evaluation of its 2012-2016 Action Plan against THB.
The Implementation of the Eurojust Action Plan against THB 2012-2016 Final evaluation report marks the completion of a five-year-long process that started with the Strategic Project on Eurojust‘s Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which identified and proposed solutions to the main challenges stemming from the investigation and prosecution of THB cases from a judicial cooperation perspective. The Final evaluation follows a mid-term Report released in November 2014.
The Final evaluation confirms that the complexity of THB cases, due to their multinational nature, the involvement of sophisticated criminal groups and the targeting of vulnerable victims, is the main obstacle to the successful repression of THB in Europe. The Final evaluation highlights Eurojust’s crucial role in facilitating essential cross-border judicial cooperation to dismantle THB networks.
The Action Plan has also yielded promising results. Eurojust and Europol have expanded their cooperation on THB by improving the flow of information between the two bodies and increasing their shared casework. Similarly, over the action period, practitioners in the Member States have gained a clearer understanding of the legal complexities of cross-border THB cases, allowing them to better coordinate their actions, share information and tackle the THB phenomenon.
The Final evaluation revealed the willingness of national authorities to cooperate at a higher level in combatting THB. An increase in the number of coordination meetings held at Eurojust and the formation of joint investigation teams (JITS) supported by Eurojust with the competent national authorities highlight this high-level support. THB-focused JITs were confirmed as an invaluable tool in the prosecution of cases that cross borders. The success of JIT Hvepsebo, set up between Denmark and Romania to tackle a case of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation, highlights the valuable role of JITs in combatting THB (see page 20 of the Final evaluation).
Lukáš Starý, Chair of Eurojust’s Trafficking Team, THB Contact Point and National Member for the Czech Republic, said:
Improved judicial cooperation is essential for tackling this egregious crime, which targets the most vulnerable members of society. Combatting the trafficking of the vulnerable for labour and other forms of exploitation requires the seamless judicial coordination that is offered by Eurojust. Eurojust remains committed to facilitating the fight against THB. Lessons learned from the Final evaluation and the Action Plan will be used to enhance Eurojust’s operational work.
Eurojust also took the opportunity of the Final evaluation to focus on the issue of THB for labour exploitation, publishing a report in December 2015 entitled Prosecuting THB for the purpose of labour exploitation. Among other findings, this report identified common indicators of labour exploitation in THB cases in judgements from 11 Member States.
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