Members of Parliament are expected to scrutinise and approve national and European legislation, yet most have had little contact with NGOs, police and other law enforcement agencies that come into direct contact with either the victims of human trafficking or the criminals who are benefiting from this modern day slavery.
Increasingly European obligations on prosecution, protection and prevention require national Parliaments to facilitate cross border cooperation, collaboration on data collection and specialist victim services, all requiring budget allocations and often new legislation. Parliamentarians need information and contacts both in their own country and others, in order to champion the fight against human trafficking and to hold their executives to account.
In 2006 ECPAT UK was invited to advise the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking. The success of this partnership led to a joint pilot project (2008 – 2010) to scope the need for a European network of Parliamentarians and NGOs working on human trafficking. ECPAT UK staff and British Parliamentarians travelled to 15 countries meeting with Parliamentarians, law enforcement and NGOs. The pilot finished with Members of Parliament pledging support and asking for regular contact and more detailed information on human trafficking to assist them in participating in national and regional dialogue.
Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking
Together with ECPAT UK and the Asociata High Level Group for Children (Romania), in 2011 HTF embarked on a two-year project to promote and strengthen a network of Parliamentarians against trafficking in human beings throughout all EU member States. The project was principally funded by the European Commission, but was also funded by the Tudor Trust.
The project included a series of conferences and exchanges of best practice organised, aiming to increase the subject knowledge of parliamentarians and develop links with other actors (especially NGOs, law enforcement practitioners and representatives from the business community).
A programme of 11 participatory activities were organised for Parliamentarians in 8 European countries to raise awareness, learn good practice, share information and expand contact with specialist NGOs and business leaders in Europe. The project's activities took place London, Berlin, Bucharest, Warsaw, The Hague, Sofia, Lisbon and Rome.
The project collaborated with specialist NGO practitioners, law enforcement representatives and business leaders in at least eight countries to share information on human trafficking, specifically child trafficking, labour exploitation as well as sexual exploitation, and promoted public-private partnerships against trafficking.
The project aimed to reach directly 100 Parliamentarians across fifteen countries and 1000 indirectly through the participating Parliamentarians reporting back to national Parliaments, and concluded with focal point contacts on human trafficking in at least eight national Parliaments.
For more information, visit www.paht.eu