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Migrants at risk from human traffickers, says EU report

media Migrants are at risk of human trafficking gangs DR

Migrants are at risk from human trafficking gangs, a report from the European Commission has found. The EU Commission is calling on member states to step up measures to combat the problem.

Experts discuss migrants at risk from human trafficking gangs 19/05/2016 - by Karen Burke Listen

One of the emerging trends identified by the EU commission's report today is trafficking within the context of migration and asylum. According to the report, this accounts for about one seventh of emerging trafficking trends.

"It is morally and legally unacceptable and inexcusable that in the EU of the 21st century, there are human beings who are bought, sold and exploited like commodities," said Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship.

"It is our personal, collective and legal duty to stop this. We have put in place a strong and forward-looking legislative framework to do this. Our main responsibility is to ensure it is now fully implemented so that those responsible are prosecuted and the victims are fully protected and assisted."

The report says that in 2013-2014, 15,846 women, men, girls and boys were registered as victims of trafficking in the EU. But the actual number of victims is likely to be higher than those registered by national authorities.

"We are not yet seeing cases in our workload of people who have been victims of the migration crisis, or people who have been refugees," said Rebecca Clarke from Hope for Justice, an international organisation aimed at ending Human Trafficking and Slavery.

"What we most commonly see is victims who are exercising their treaty rights and travel to the UK willingly believing they are travelling to a legitimate job, and once they are in the UK find that they have been deceived."

One of the most sharply increasing trends has been the number of children falling victim to human traffickers. Victims with disabilities and victims of Roma ethnic background were also identified as increasing in number.

"Migration is a slightly tricky word in the sense that most of the people in these situations I would refer to as refugees," Peter Bale, professor of contemporary slavery at the Wilberforce Institute, told RFI.

"It's those people who are not just looking for work and trying to make a better life - those people often have a plan about what they are doing, and actually travel with some resources to do so - but refugees, those people who have been forced to leave, often in a hurry, those are the people who are especially vulnerable."

The report also highlights links between human trafficking and other forms of crime, as well as an increased use of the internet and new technologies to recruit victims.

The EU Commission says that member states need to step up their efforts to fight human trafficking.

"The EU member states have made strides," says Dr Genevieve LeBaron, co-founder and editor of’s Beyond Trafficking and Slavery website.

"The UK has passed the Modern Slavery Act, the EU has a number of directives that are coming into force, or being rolled out over the next few years, that certainly endeavour to tackle this problem in different ways. What the report is really making clear is that in relation to managing the migration crisis, in particular, criminal justice approaches are not sufficient."

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