The fight against human trafficking requires close cooperation across borders with the support of Eurojust

28 June 2024|NEWS

During their annual meeting of the Focus group, specialised prosecutors came together to strengthen cooperation on combatting trafficking in human beings.

Trafficking in human beings is a serious transnational crime, which requires a comprehensive approach from prevention to prosecution, while protecting victims as foreseen in the EU Strategy on combatting trafficking in human beings 2021-2025. Trafficking is still a high profit low risk crime. At global level, illegal profits are estimated at US$236 billion annually. It is often linked to organised crime. In the EU, 55 of the most threatening criminal networks engage in trafficking in human beings as main activity.

Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation remains a prevalent form of exploitation in the EU, while labour exploitation has increased in recent years; both remain underreported. Moreover, new forms of exploitation are increasing, for example forced criminality.

To ensure that traffickers are brought to justice, close cooperation at all levels is required, including of judicial authorities. Organised Crime Groups that commit human trafficking, usually operate in several countries.

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On 26 and 27 June, the Focus Group against the trafficking in human beings met for the third time to exchange best practices and share challenges in judicial cooperation in relation to human trafficking. The meeting was co-chaired by Eurojust and the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator.

The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Diane Schmitt, and the Chair of Eurojust’s Anti-Trafficking teams, Daniela Buruiană, stated during the meeting:

Prosecutors are encouraged to make full use of the tools and instruments available at EU level with the support of the EU Agencies, including Eurojust and other stakeholders. This is crucial for ensuring a strong judicial response against human trafficking. We welcome that this year, we facilitated a first dialogue between prosecutors and the private sector. Successful investigations and prosecutions require close cooperation between all relevant actors.

The meeting brought together prosecutors and investigative judges from 24 Member States and Albania, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, United States and United Kingdom, as well as the European Commission, Europol and EMPACT THB (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats) coordinator. The meeting discussed the judicial aspects related to the online dimension of human trafficking, the challenges that occur in cases of sexual and labour exploitation, forced criminality or exploitative surrogacy, and the opportunity of using financial investigations to build up strong evidence in human trafficking cases and recover proceeds of crime. The meeting allowed identifying new ways of cooperation and strengthening the common understanding of different legal concepts.

Participants underlined the importance of cross-border cooperation and the need of regular exchanges. Eurojust facilitates this collaboration between prosecutors with operational and logistical support to cross-border cases. Eurojust has assisted national authorities with more than 300 human trafficking cases in 2023.

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