Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Human trafficking under spotlight at European conference

GENEVA — Officials from across Europe are due to attend a conference in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss how to step up the fight against human trafficking, the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.

The three-day meeting at the European Parliament building will focus on the problem and the challenge of the planned eastwards expansion of the European Union after 2004, the IOM said.

The Geneva-based IOM, which has organised the meeting jointly with the European Commission and European Parliament, said more than 1,000 representatives were expected.

Delegates will try to agree on legislative action, law enforcement and judicial cooperation, prevention, cooperation with private trans-national companies and assistance for victims.

IOM believes between 500,000 and 700,000 women and children are trafficked worldwide by criminal networks every year, with more than 100,000 people coming from countries of central and eastern Europe (CEE) and the former Soviet republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Precise numbers of victims are however not known, IOM stressed.

"Trafficking in human beings from the CEE and the Commonwealth of Independent States to the European Union and other third countries, notably the USA, represents a growing threat, both in terms of scale and complexity," the UN agency said in a statement.

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Created: September 20, 2002
Last modified: September 21, 2002
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