Up to one hundred participants, including parliamentarians, from across Europe will convene in the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest on 26th and 27th June to declare their shared commitment to tackling human trafficking.
The declaration will serve as the capstone to the final conference of Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking (PAHT), a two-year anti-trafficking project led by ECPAT UK and the Human Trafficking Foundation.
With increased public awareness of the many transnational crimes of human trafficking, the PAHT project has sought to establish an EU-wide network of parliamentarians better positioned to campaign for national-level responses to these pressing issues.
The final conference in Bucharest is the culmination of a series of eleven high-level meetings in London, The Hague, Rome, Warsaw, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid, Stockholm and Vilnius, bringing together parliamentarians, NGO representatives and law enforcement agencies, amongst others, to share and discuss ways of preventing human trafficking, prosecuting perpetrators of human trafficking and protecting victims of human trafficking, in particular children and women.
During the conference, hosted by Mr Valeriu Zgonea MP, Speaker of the Lower House of the Romanian Parliament, parliamentarians from across the EU will seek to agree on specific mechanisms that will enable the network to continue to stimulate four national-level anti-trafficking initiatives:
• Establishing anti-trafficking parliamentary groups or an equivalent mechanism in member states
• Building effective cross border and regional cooperation
• Strengthening data collection and a pan-European mapping system
• Creating National Rapporteurs in member states to monitor and implement anti-trafficking policies
On the final day of the conference, delegates will sign the “PAHT Bucharest Declaration”, a common statement of intent to take the work of the PAHT network forward.
Bharti Patel, CEO of ECPAT UK, said: “ECPAT UK has supported the work of Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking as part of its overall mission to end child trafficking. Parliamentarians in the UK and Europe have a collective responsibility to protect children across borders. It is time that they signal their commitment to build on the work of the PAHT project and press EU member states for concrete action on human trafficking.”
Anthony Steen, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, said: “Not enough policy makers are involved in a collective initiative to stamp out modern day slavery, which across the EC is reaching epidemic numbers. Our job as NGOs, in conjunction with parliamentarians, is to have a united attack on networks of traffickers, convict them and strip them of their assets, and use these assets to compensate victims. We need to ensure these traffickers are put behind bars.”