Posts Tagged ‘human trafficking’

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GRETA on Ukraine – Human Trafficking Report

September 20, 2014

A very short entry today relating to the latest GRETA report on Ukraine and human trafficking.

A long 68 page read – but worth it for those with an interest in human trafficking, as this blog historically – and still – has, away from the more general every day entries.

That said human trafficking related entries still appear here every now and then., so if you have an interest, do put “human trafficking” into the search facility, because though entries in this blog are deliberately scarce, there are still far too many to link to.

 

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UNHCR Report 2013 – Ukraine

July 29, 2013

Very short and sweet today as it is my good lady’s birthday and any more than 2 minutes writing anything here will not get a good reception!

Still, here is an interesting read from the UNHCR relating to refugees and asylum, which starts off fairly positively (see 11 and 12 Legislative reforms 2011 – 2013) but then tails off rapidly into a somewhat dismal tale – which is unsurprising given Ukraine’s consistent inability to turn written policy into practical reality over any issue we care to look at.

That’s it – back tomorrow!

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US State Department Trafficking in Humans Report 2013 – Ukraine

June 22, 2013

The US State Department has released its annual “Trafficking in Humans Report” with Ukraine featuring on pages 373 – 375.

All in all – whilst it is possible to split hairs – as reasonably accurate as is possible given the broad brush strokes required for a brief national overview.

As I have written previously, an effect human trafficking policy works from the following priorities:

1.  Prevention

2.  Protection/Victim Support

3.  Prosecution

If the current Ukrainian rating drop is related to a changing of policy, and thus due to a period of reorganisation, one hopes that the new policy will reflect and be funded as above.

No doubt we shall see in the 2014 report.

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Human Trafficking training – Ukraine

June 12, 2013

I find myself heartened somewhat by a Ukrainian government policy!

As chair of OSCE, yesterday Ukraine called for a joined-up, comprehensive strategy and legislative foundation to combat the totally abhorrent issue of human trafficking.

As somebody who has a great interest in human trafficking – particularly from/to/through Odessa – I cannot in anyway pooh-pooh such a call.  The EU strategy is fine, but not all OSCE members are EU members and it is an issue that affects the entire continent (like every other continent).  Personally I would be quite happy to see the issue subject to the International Criminal Court (ICC) – but perhaps that bar is set too high given it only deals with the most grievous offences against humanity on a truly massive scale perpetrated by a very select and well known few.

However, whilst I do applaud the quite necessary Ukrainian call for a comprehensive OSCE strategy at an institutional, international – thus by default national – and legislative level,  enforcing and adhering to any such strategy through such mechanisms is but part of the necessary package in such a fight.

Prevention and victim support are also two very necessary accompanying working parts of any such mechanism, deserving of equal attention, financing and awareness campaigns.  In fact, an effective policy would work by prioritising prevention, then protection/victims support and lastly concern itself with prosecution.

Thus, I was further encouraged by the Ukrainian declaration that Ukraine will, forthwith, begin to train border control staff in spotting potential victims – and in many cases they are not difficult to spot.

However, the state institutions and authorities whilst the first line of detection are not and cannot be the be-all and end-all.  For a start, one of the obvious indicators of trafficking is the victim is indeed the fear of the authorities and state institutions.  There are other obvious signs at points of entry and egress – but this is not a training site for the Ukrainian authorities – so there is no need to detail them all.

Just as importantly for a Ukrainian internal strategy is an awareness campaign amongst landlords, hotel staff, medical staff, police, housing authorities, pub, club and bar owners, NGOs and civil society that deal with domestic violence, prostitution, truancy  etc – as well as the general public (similar to the AIDS/STD campaign regularly on Ukrainian television) with a well publicised hot-line to report suspected incidents – or indeed for victims themselves to call if possible – and this is writing in broad brush-strokes without going into the nuts and bolts.

As you can tell I can go on and on with regards to creating and implementing an effective human trafficking strategy and awareness campaign – and I feel as though I am starting to go on and on – so I will stop.

Anyway, something positive from the government of Ukraine both on an international and domestic level for a change!

 

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A day with the “Beeb”

May 21, 2013

A very short entry today as I have spent the day filming with the BBC talking drug and human trafficking, smuggling and counterfeit goods in Odessa – naturally I will eagerly await my BAFTA nomination!

So having spent the day talking trafficking routes in and out of Odessa and more broadly Ukraine – and basically stating the obvious, in that serious and organised crime will always choose the route of least resistance – and Ukraine is probably not as robust as the EU States when it comes to preventing entry or egress of illicit “goods” on the European continent, it is perhaps good timing that today, an announcement of the opening of Odessa Port’s new terminal will be in Autumn 2013 – an absolutely necessary economic infrastructure addition in respect of legitimate trade – but also another point of weakness in a somewhat porous and very large international land and sea Odessa border.

With such a large international land and sea border, how can Odessa be anything other than porous and a route of least resistance for serious and organised crime?

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A rare moment – Convictions for Human Trafficking involving Ukraine

March 19, 2013

Right – Back on my soap box relating to an cause I passionately believe in.

For once a flicker of light in an otherwise very black hole known as human trafficking.

As it is no secret that convictions globally for this abhorrent crime are minimal – despite the sheer scale of the problem in terms of numbers and illicit money – the SBU and foreign partner agencies have managed to get convictions of 4 people for trafficking Ukrainian women for sexual exploitation.

The Ukrainian involved has been jailed for 5 years.

Hurrah and huzzah!

Let us hope that Ukraine remembers its commitments to the UN relating to The Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.

If Ukraine needs reminding,  the trafficked women should receive:

Victims have a right be treated with compassion and respect.
Victims have a right to information on the proceedings.
Victims have a right to present their views to the judicial authorities.
Victims have a right to legal representation at no cost should they be unable to afford it.
Victims have a right to see their privacy and identity protected.
Victims have a right to protection against retaliation and intimidation.
Victims have a right to be offered the opportunity to participate in mediation.
Victims have a right to receive compensation from the state in cases of violent crime.
Victims have the right to receive social assistance.

Will Ukraine apply those points relevant to these women as it has stated it will on several occasions now the legal system has done its job – or will they be cast adrift to be possibly re-trafficked in the future?

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Attempts to legalise prostitution and the effect of human trafficking

March 6, 2013

Well, this entry is likely to get a lot of reading over the coming months – not because of ruminations it contains, but because it will contain those SEO magnetic key words of Ukraine, women, prostitution, sex, escorts and the like.

One look at my blog statistics and it is clear to see that many posts, some years old, are still frequently read because the search engines will bring them to the attention of those seeking fun and frolics, sexual adventures, girlfriends, wives etc from Ukraine – I cannot vet my readership, and to be fair, there will be some historical entries here that may be of some use to those seeking such things.

This entry may or may not fall into that category – but it is not my intention to glorify or undermine the sex industry, whether that which exists within Ukraine or that without that effects Ukraine.  Working with an Odessa NGO that deals with domestic violence, prostitution, human trafficking etc – and having worked for 8 years within the drugs and prostitution agencies in the UK – regardless of whichever side of the “moral line” you sit on regarding the sex industry, the reality is that it exists, has always existed and always will.

The issue for governments, society, NGOs and those employed illegally within that industry, is how to deal with it.

In some nations, prostitution is illegal – it is that simple.  In others it is legal.  In many it sits in a grey area where parts of it are legal and others illegal.  In some nations, a prostitute (or two) can work from a domestic dwelling selling sex and remain within the law.  Three working from that dwelling then makes it a brothel – and thus illegal.  In other nations, brothels are legal, taxed and employees subject to regular medical checks.

Then there are the massage parlours, visiting masseuses, escorts, gentleman’s clubs, entertainment centres et al, which whilst offering services within the law, also infer (correctly) that services outside the law are also available.

All rather complex shades of legal right and wrong – and no degree of legality or otherwise seems to have much effect on those trafficked to nations to enter the sex trade.

As much as I intensely dislike generalisations, it would be fair to say that in Asia most human trafficking has more to do with forced labour than sex.  Across Europe it is the other way around, with more human trafficking aimed towards the sex trade than slave labour.

Ukraine is not only a source of pretty women and children for trafficking into the sex industry, but also a trafficking route of some significants.

It is with interest then, that I note a third attempt is under way within the Czech Republic to legalise prostitution and brothels.

You can understand that through legalisation there is probably not only a significant revenue from taxation to collect, but also some form of inferred additional safety for those currently having to hide what they do from the authorities – not to mention a significant chance to reduce sexually transmitted disease – if handled correctly.

It is unlikely however, to reduce the amount of human trafficking through and from Ukraine to the Czech Republic.  I have yet to see any academic study that has shown a significant reduction in human trafficking to Germany or The Netherlands where prostitution and brothels are legal.  Women are still trafficked there for the sex trade in fairly significant numbers.

Also it has to be said, that more legal places to work as a prostitute outside Ukraine has little effect in the internal trafficking of women to the major cities from the provinces by the criminal elements.

What I have noticed over my (now many) years here, is that more women are working for themselves in Ukraine and are advertising their services for free on social media sites such as VK or Mamba.

For how long that keeps them free from the clutches of criminal underworld, or if indeed this modem operandi keeps them any safer, well, I can find no Ukrainian statistics on the issue – despite working with a Ukrainian NGO of 15 years standing in this arena.  However I do know self-employed prostitutes and escorts who only use these sites to advertise their services – thus there must be some benefit to working this way and avoiding not only the law enforcement agencies but also the criminal underworld – if nothing other than for a little longer than would otherwise be the case.

That said of course, statistics on prostitution where it is illegal, and human trafficking,  is naturally far harder to gauge.  Much has to be based upon guess-work no differently that estimating the size of the black economy in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that the Czech Republic will, for the third time, try to legalise prostitution very soon, as if there are any semi-reliable statistics for human trafficking relating specifically to the Czech Republic and the sex trade, then if legalisation is successful, it should be possible to note any increase or decrease in trafficking rates as a result.

One hopes that somebody will have the sense to try and assess any such outcomes.

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Human trafficking and pilot projects in the EaP

February 20, 2013

OK – following on from yesterday’s post and remaining with the human trafficking theme, the fight against which I remain a devout crusader, I did state we would return to the human trafficking issue despite it not being a stated EU human rights priority as per the European Council of Minister’s press release.

Naturally in yesterday’s post I did mention my disappointment that human trafficking was not a priority – more so in light of it being a Ukrainian priority whilst sitting as the 2013 OSCE Chair.  I did write however, that the EU had made a statement relating to human trafficking that same day and a cursory look at it would happen today.

Well here it is.

Yes indeed, human trafficking draws some of the most strongly worded statements you will find coming from the European Commission:

Stephan Fule, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourghood Policy –  “We are determined to do all we can to work across borders and nations to bring an end to this evil activity of trafficking people wherever it takes place. By strengthening laws, sharing information and increasing levels of awareness of the problem across the region, we hope to lay the foundations for further action in this area and send a clear message to traffickers that this barbaric and deplorable form of exploitation cannot continue.”

Andres Piebalgs, Development Commissioner – “I find it absolutely shocking that in the 21st century, human trafficking continues. Organised crime is a virus that knows no borders, so the remedy must also strike across borders not only to protect the victims, but also EU citizens. That’s why projects like this are so vital – it is only by countries working together that we are likely to see an end to this terrible scourge on modern society.”

Cecilia Malmstrom, Commissioner for Home Affairs – “Trafficking in human beings cannot be tolerated in any form, be it in Europe or anywhere else in the world. We need to work with partner countries and organisations to provide a strong and unequivocal response to this fundamental violation of human rights.”

“Evil activity”, “absolutely shocking”, “cannot be tolerated in any form”, “provide a strong and unequivocal response” – Blimey!  A positively fire and brimstone message by way of European Commission standards.  And yet, as I said yesterday, an issue sadly missing from the European Council press release relating to EU human rights priorities – despite it being an issue that affects the nations of each and every European Council member without exception (not to mention each and every neighbouring nation as well – naturally including Ukraine).

Now those of you who bothered to click on the link to the 18th February human trafficking EU press release above will note that the relatively small sum of Euro 1.5 million has been allocated to a pilot project aimed at the nations of Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey in an effort to facilitate information and best practice sharing amongst those nations.  – Very good, and generally in line with the EU human trafficking  2012 – 2016 human trafficking strategy, but that is not what has my attention from this press release.

As regular readers will know, I have committed myself to give some time and effort to an Odessa NGO called “Вера, Надежда, Любовь” that deals with prostitution, domestic violence and human trafficking in and through Odessa.

Amongst my first suggestions was to fine tune and formalise to a greater degree, the communication with and exchange of information, best practice and effective policy implementation with NGOs of a similar nature throughout the EU, FSU, and MENA relating to both prevention and victim support – very much like the pilot project mentioned above.  Herein my knowledge of English, Russian, somewhat rusty German and almost forgotten French languages, is somewhat useful – not withstanding 8 years of dealing with domestic violence, prostitution and rape via multi-agency platforms and the experience that provided from 1990 – 1998 in the UK.

The obvious gap in between prevention and victim support – law enforcement – is not a matter for NGOs but those who enforce the law and is thus better left to Interpol, Europol and national enforcement structures – albeit a rude poke in the ribs may be required by a NGO to give matters some local importance occasionally.

It was this paragraph that has my attention – “By mid-2014 a second phase is expected to consolidate its results and broaden the scope by addressing not only law enforcement, but also assistance and protection of victims. More countries are also expected to join the project in the second phase.”

Oh yes – the victims!  After the serious business of organised crime and the economic impact of human trafficking is ruminated over ad infinitum, let us not forget the victims, who are quite often left severely damaged long after any offenders are jailed and illegal proceeds from this abhorrent crime confiscated – which is seldom.

Needless to say, I will be paying extra attention the EU Commission website relating to human trafficking for any indication of just how and who will be encouraged to pick up the pieces for the victims across the EU and its neighbouring nations, and the regional strategy or model put forward.  Not least, what implications it will have for Ukraine and those to whom I have just started to donate some time and effort to.

With that dear readers, I will move onto subjects new tomorrow – after all you don’t read this blog for information on human trafficking alone do you – energy and the environment beckons as the next entry!

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