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On 27 November 2014 the European Commission in cooperation with the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and Conference of the Catholics Bishops in Europe (COMECE) organized a seminar on the topic of “Common Policies for the Prevention of Human Trafficking”

Representatives participated at the seminar from different DGs of the European Commission such as the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA), of External Action and many more. On behalf of the churches they were present members of CEC, COMECE and on behalf of the Orthodox Church they were present representatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Patriarchate of Romania and the Church of Greece. The Church of Cyprus was represented by Deacon f. Nektarios Ioannou.

The participants were welcomed on behalf of the European Commission Mr. Jean-Claude Thebault Director of BEPA and on behalf of the churches Mr. Guy Liagre General Secretary of CEC and the General Secretary of COMECE f. Patrick Daly. All speakers emphasized on the importance of this topic and the great effort that the churches and the European Commission are making in the fight against human trafficking.

The seminar was divided in three parts. During the first part the topic that was discussed, was about the trafficking of children and their human rights, on the second ways of avoiding trafficking and modern forms of slavery and during the third session the methods of protecting trafficked persons and the aid that can be provided.

During the first session Mr. Paul Nemitz Director of Justice DG, Mr. Jose Luis Bazan on behalf of COMECE and Mrs. Doris Peschke on behalf of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe spoke. The speakers explained the legal background at a European level as well as the efforts that they are making in avoiding trafficking of children. Among the paradigms that the speakers gave was the one of a girl that was trafficked at the age of fourteen to a country that prostitution was legal, later to another when she was sixteen to end up in Amsterdam at the age of eighteen.

In the second part the interventions were made by Mrs. Katarzyna Grzybowska on behalf of BEPA, of Mrs. Elena TImofticiuc on behalf of the Ecumenical Organization of the Romanian churches and of sister Mrs. Eugenia Bonetti concerned the ways of trafficking as well as the modern forms of slavery. In her extent speak Mrs. Katarzyna Grzybowska mentioned the on going violation of human rights and unfortunately that behind this action there is a lot of money. Unfortunately, as she mentioned, there is no specific legislation something that is for next year’s agenda on behalf of the European Commission. The existing regulations issued by the European Commission are partially implement only by Belgium and Germany. It is additionally very difficult to analyze the information get by Eurostat. Eurostat has different filters that transfer cases to statistic but everyone knows that the numbers in a vast majority are not reflecting reality. On the other hand Mrs. Timofticiuc spoke about the strategies that are implemented in Romania for the prevention of trafficking humans. One of the tragedy cases that Mrs. Timofticiuc referred to was about a court case where the trafficker had five lawyers where as the victim had, with the aid of the church, just one. Finally sister Mrs. Bonetti spoke through her long experience in Africa about the trafficking methods and the ways of prevention. Providing information from an early age, the creation of a character that respects human and the cooperation of the churches with the states for the establishment of places that are made especially for these persons. Another point that sister Bonetti stressed out is the one of networking for supporting each other. One of her example was that in Italy, a country that is traditionally faithful, 9 millions ask for prostitutes of all ages every year.

At the third and last session Mr. Aidan Mc Quade on behalf of the organization “Anti Slavery International”, Mrs. Birgit Reiche representative of the organization “Frauenhilfe” and Mr. Duco Van Heel on behalf of the international organization “Frontex” spoke. All three speakers explain the problem of specifying what is trafficking on the one and what is the difference of when these people ask for asylum after police arrests them. They all stressed they need for supporting each other, the members states and especially that E.U. must have an active role.

At the end of the sessions Mrs. Katherina Von Schnurbein, coordinator, thanked the participants on behalf of BEPA for their contributions to the seminar.

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