The EU pays attention to efforts of the Baltic States to combat human trafficking on Anti Human Trafficking Day

Riga, 18/10/2013. Today, on the Anti Human Trafficking Day of the European Union, the topicality of the problem within the global and Baltic States was emphasized in the press conference organized by the Ombudsman’s Office and the Society "Shelter "Safe House"". The participants pointed out that each Baltic State does their best to combat this contemporary form of slavery.

"The responsibility of the government is not only to prohibit human trafficking, but also to turn against everybody who violates such a prohibition. It is the responsibility of the government to develop a single body of preventive measures to not allow people to become victims of human trafficking, and to ensure social victim rehabilitation programmes which are not just short-term activities, but a substantial support system helping individuals return back to society after the vents they have experienced.
Besides, it is important to ensure continuity of the prevention of human trafficking. The Ombudsman’s Office could also participate in the practical prevention of human trafficking just because we succeeded to attract foreign funding. As socio-economic tension increases, it is expected that the number of human trafficking victims will increase. Therefore, it is high time to get actively involved in human trafficking abatement," points out Juris Jansons, ombudsman of Latvia.

Human trafficking issues are discussed not only in Latvia. This problem has also persisted throughout the world.

Evan McCarthy, Consul of the US Embassy in Latvia: "Due to the annual report of the US government, we are aware of the human trafficking situation in individual countries, and on the basis of this research, it is possible to improve actions taken by the responsible sectors, as human trafficking tendencies change, to be aware of the scope of this problem and to ensure implementation of the protection measures for human trafficking victims. Latvia is a reliable partner in these efforts, and the public sector of Latvia has made significant progress, if we speak about efforts to prevent human trafficking and victim protection measures. Improved legislation, flexibility to provide victim support measures and long-term human trafficking prevention measures performed by the public sector in collaboration with the non-governmental sector – these are the areas where Latvia has succeeded the most. We will continue to strengthen our collaboration with the organizations involved in human trafficking abatement both in Latvia and other EU Member States. One of the most recent collaboration projects in Latvia supported by the US Embassy Small Grant Program is the campaign "Be smart – prevent human trafficking*", the first stage of which was successfully completed by the Society "Shelter "Safe House"", involving several local governments in the project activities and educating a wider scope of people of Latvia on human trafficking issues".

There are also regular preventive measures organized in the other Baltic States with a purpose to educate the society.

Lilija Ivančenko, representative of the Estonian nongovernmental organization "Living for Tomorrow" informs: "Human trafficking issues are on the priority list of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Estonia already for 7 years. We have recorded 11 forced labour and 2 sexual exploitation cases during the first 9 months of this year. For comparison - last year there were 14 forced labour cases registered in Finland, Sweden and Norway, 1 sexual exploitation case in Greece and 1 – forced fictitious marriage in Great Britain. Furthermore, since 2004, our institution provides a toll free phone line for the population to reduce human trafficking and to provide help for victims. The data shows that the number of human trafficking cases increases each year, as Estonia is a victim origin state, as well as a transit state".

Lithuanian nongovernmental organization "Caritas Lithuania" also does their best to reduce human trafficking by various methods. According to the data provided, the organization helped 120 people in 2012, as well as 55 human trafficking victims who had suffered in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Austria this year. "As forced marriage is not included in the Criminal Code of Lithuania as a form of human trafficking, offenders use this form of exploitation rather often. Lithuanian nongovernmental organizations, funded by governmental, municipal, and EU funds, as well as the Catholic Church, organize prevention measures including support for victims. This year, new human trafficking forms have emerged in Lithuania, for example, juvenile involvement in the criminal activities, forced theft and forced marriage," states Kristina Mišinienė, Head of the Lithuanian nongovernmental organization "Caritas Lithuania".

Although preventive measures are among the most efficient human trafficking measures, as they contribute to reducing the root of the problem, governmental funding is not enough to support such activities. In Latvia, prevention measures are provided only due to funding by socially responsible companies, foreign donors and the European Union projects.

"Supporting the society that we work with has always been an integral part of our company’s business culture and sense of social responsibility. It is important to listen to the needs of the most unprotected members of society to make positive changes in dealing with complicated situations and, unfortunately, human trafficking is such an issue. We are satisfied that our long-standing support for for the NGO Society "Shelter "Safe House"" hasmade a significant difference in dealing with the human trafficking issues in Latvia and other Baltic States," says Agne Gaizauskiene, "Philip Morris Baltic" PR Executive.

To reduce the number of the human trafficking victims in Latvia, both the problem root and its consequences have to be addressed, there have to be regular preventive measures, and continuous support provided for the victims.

Sandra Zalcmane, Head of the Society "Shelter "Safe House"": "By October 18, continuous help is provided for 16 human trafficking victims. In total there have been 120 cases recorded when people have turned to the society for consultations. Most of the cases – 60 – have been related to fictitious marriages, 8 – to forced labour, while explanatory information was given more than 50 times. There have been no cases this year when people would have been in need of consultations related to cases of sexual exploitation. Most often the cases were reported by Latvian embassies – 29 times, by other persons/ organizations – 31 times, however there were also 60 cases when a person would turn to the organization without the help of other persons or organizations. Most often people have chosen to receive information digitally and via phone – more than 100 times, in person – 17 times."

On October 18, within the framework of the Anti Human Trafficking month initiated by the Society "Shelter "Safe House"", extensive activities within the campaign "Be smart – prevent human trafficking*" were held throughout Latvia. Our informative trailer visited 9 cities and local governments of Latvia – Riga, Liepaja, Eleja, Gulbene, Viesite, Daugavpils, Dagds, Ludzs and Salacgriva, the total covered distance was more than 3 000 km. More than 1000 people got acquainted with information displayed in the trailer, and 75 local government employees were instructed in workshops. Within the campaign, journalists were instructed on how to reflect human trafficking issues in the media. Within the Project "Choose Your Freedom 2", 30 youths and leaders of the organizations of 6 European countries – Latvia, Italy, Cyprus, Croatia, Portugal and Rumania - were educated on human trafficking issues. During the training an emphasis was put on the global characteristics of human trafficking and the role of the Internet and social media in its development. Thus a day was devoted to creating two social advertising clips targeting youth online.
Both clips were made simultaneously an independently by the participants of the training with the help of young filming professionals. During the day each team reflected on what they had learned to develop an idea and scenario of the video which was followed by preparation and filming. The day ended with presenting and launching the videos. Both pieces were finished from scratch in approximately 8 hours. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlrD31xqhUM, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJICAmtYeIY

People read information published in our website and social network on human trafficking ~ 15 000 times. Further information at http://patverums-dm.lv/lv/kampana-esi-zinoss-novers-cilveku-tirdzniecibu

The campaign "Be smart - prevent human trafficking" is financially supported by such socially responsible companies as "Philip Morris International", which supports anti-human trafficking activities for the fourth year, "TransferGo Ltd.", "EuroAWK", Riga City Council, the Society Integration Foundation, the U.S. Embassy in Latvia. Informative support by www.draugiem.lv, www.baltic-ireland.ie, www.tvnet.lv, www.rus.tvnet.lv, www.apollo.lv, www.rus.apollo.lv, www.calis.lv.

 

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