The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law held a debate on human trafficking and severe labour explotiation.

More Focus Needed on the Victims of Trafficking

The EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator says the EU has laws and policy to tackle human trafficking and severe labour exploitation, but no implementation yet.

Myria Vassiliadou, the EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator, was one of four experts on Tuesday night who participated in a high level debate at Lund University about people who are trafficked for the purposes of forced labour.

“Human trafficking happens because we make use of the services of the victims, so there is demand not for victims of trafficking, but there is demand for cheap goods, cheap services, cheap products, and because it is astronomically profitable,” Vassiliadou said.

In her keynote address, Vassiliadou said two-thirds of the victims of trafficking and 70 percent of the traffickers in the EU are EU citizens. And she said 3,000 small criminal networks in Europe were behind the trafficking. “One thing which few people discuss is the money,” she said. “We need to follow the money. Who does it go to and where is it invested?”

Prof. Mia Rönnmar, Dean at the Faculty of Law at Lund University, welcomed the guests to the debate. She said the Law Faculty and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute were hosting the event because “we want to contribute to the search for legal solutions and ways to proceed forward.”

Prof. Judy Fudge from Kent Law School said too much of the discussion surrounding human trafficking was hitched to the migration and immigration debate. She said many in the EU think that both the traffickers and victims are bad people, and that it is EU citizens who must protect themselves from this “other” entity among us. She argued, rather, that the best way to tackle human trafficking was to deal with it as a labour issue.

“Effective trade unions, effective labour enforcement, and good labour laws can do a lot to improve the conditions of people who are exploited at work,” she said.

Sepaking on behalf of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), Adriano Silvestri argued that there was far too much impunity for employers who exploit workers in the EU.

And all panel participants agreed that more needed to be done to focus on the victims of trafficking. “I think what is very clear from this conversation is that we need to look at human trafficking more from the side of the victim,” said Morten Kjaerum, the director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.


Severe Labour Exploitation, a powerpoint presentation from Adriano Silverstri, Head of Sector Asylum, Migration and Borders at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

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