Date Posted: 4th January, 2016

EU must not trample on rights of human trafficking victims

new-logoThe urgent need to identify, protect and support men, women and children who have fallen into the grips of human traffickers is the subject of a major European conference being hosted by the Immigrant Council of Ireland later this month (Jan 14th 2016).

The ‘Upholding Rights’ Conference will be addressed by international experts and frontline agencies from Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, England and Scotland – including UK Anti -Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland. Discussions will focus on ensuring that countries across Europe meet their international commitments to protect vulnerable people who have been targeted by organised crime gangs for sexual and labour exploitation.Announcing the event Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said:“Human trafficking is an evil, vicious crime which tramples on the rights of men, women and children when they are at their most vulnerable. They are deliberately targeted by thugs who subject them to sexual and labour exploitation – it is a crime which is second only to the drugs trade in terms of scale. For the past two-years we have been working with partners from across the EU on the European Commission project ‘Upholding Rights, Early Legal Intervention for Victims of Human Trafficking’.We are highlighting the need to ensure that victims are given access to timely independent legal aid in order to ensure their international rights are respected – a need which has become all the more greater as Europe responds to the current refugee crisis.”Nusha Yonkova, Anti Trafficking Manager with the Immigrant Council added: “As a frontline agency which has supported over 60 women trafficked for sexual exploitation we know first-hand that this is a crime which shatters lives. In too many cases victims remain unidentified, treated like criminals and denied the supports which they are legally entitled too – the aim of our work is to change this practice and ensure all are given early access to lawyers.The Dublin Conference in two weeks marks the culmination of that work and we look forward to hearing not just from our partners but from the top legal experts from across Europe working in this field.The event could not be more-timely – as the numbers making the perilous journey into Europe are expected to increase in the coming weeks.”