BRUSSELS—Experts, policy makers and NGOs from Europe and Asia gathered in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss human trafficking and how to prevent it.
The problem of human trafficking remains a major issue around the world. According to a U.N. report from 2012, 2.4 million people were victims of human trafficking in 2011, and that number is rising.
“The fact that you are taking away any freedom or self-reliance or self-determination of an individual constitutes one of the gravest human rights violations in the world,” said Annette Lyth, regional project manager for the U.N. Project on Human Trafficking.
Human trafficking is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion,” according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Speakers at the conference stressed the importance of cross-border collaboration, better policing, and educating the public so people can better report human trafficking cases and prevent more from becoming victims.
Many of those trafficked are the most vulnerable groups in society like women and children. Some children are so young they can’t even remember who their parents are once they are rescued.
The Council of Europe, including the 28 European Union member states, adopted a convention against human trafficking in 2005 that set up protocols for protecting victims, investigating cases, and prosecuting those involved. It also set up an international framework for cooperation between law enforcement in different countries.
The ten member states in the Association of South East Asian Neighbors (ASEAN) are working on adopting a similar convention by the end of this year.
In terms of cooperation between Europe and Asia, the biggest area right now is intelligence, so that perpetrators are traced globally and can be reported to local authorities.
Lyth says the problem of human trafficking should not be dealt with superficially, as quality investigations are needed to prosecute the biggest perpetrators around the world.
Correction: This article incorrectly stated the european organization that adopted the convention on human rights trafficking in 2005. It is the Council of Europe.