16 October 2015 – Urging the Europe Union (EU) to safeguard the rights of migrants at risk, especially the most vulnerable, a United Nations human rights expert today called on EU member States to ensure their anti-trafficking measures do not include restrictive and exclusionary immigration policies that are not effective and further heighten risks for trafficking and exploitation.
“It is imperative today to acknowledge that not only specific anti-trafficking policies but all related policies and especially migration policies must be consistent with the priority of preventing and eradicating trafficking and exploitation,” Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, said in a statement ahead of the EU Anti-Trafficking Day.
Conflicts, emergency crisis situations and poverty, Ms. Giammarinaro stressed, can fuel trafficking as people are forced to migrate in dangerous and vulnerable conditions, such as abuse and exploitation.
Urging European Union and its Member States to ensure the rights of victims of trafficking are not negatively impacted by anti-trafficking policies, the UN expert said that access to justice and compensation should also not be impacted.
Europe is now a common destination for those tens and thousands currently on the move, be they victims of smuggling, migrants and refugees, asylum seekers, or children travelling alone.
“I also urge the European Union to commit to the prevention and eradication of exploitation and trafficking, especially of women and children,” said Ms. Giammarinaro, noting that such trafficking and exploitation occurs in many sectors, including agriculture, construction, fishery, domestic work, the touristic industry and the sex industry.”
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), about 2,500 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year. Some surviving their perilous journey through land and sea often fall prey to criminal or unscrupulous recruiters and employers, who traffic them for labour, sexual or other types of slave-like exploitations in transit and destination countries.