Ways to strengthen the OSCE participating States’ response to human trafficking in terms of the prevention of the crime, prosecution of offenders and protection of victims were the focus of a high-level conference held in Kyiv, Ukraine on 10-11 June 2013.
The conference was organized by the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the OSCE, which has put combating trafficking in human beings high on its agenda for the year.
At the opening of the conference the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara read out the address by President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to the participants of the conference, who called for efficient implementation by all participating States of their commitments to eradicate this modern slavery.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, in his opening address underlined the urgency of strengthening co-operation within the OSCE to address the problem of human trafficking: “There are far too many underlying factors enabling human trafficking to flourish, while global action to stop it remains inadequate, despite the variety of measures and commitments. By working together we can create a better future for coming generations and eliminate safe havens for criminals, as well as social indifference toward victims of trafficking in human beings.”
OSCE Secretary General, Lamberto Zannier, supported the need for strong action. “All forms of exploitation should be reflected in our commitments, and all victims deserve unconditional protection and assistance. Every available method should be used to identify victims and prosecute offenders,” he said.
Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Natalia Korolevska stressed that in view of new tendencies and forms of human trafficking, common goal should be to adequately and timely address these challenges by adopting concrete decisions and undertaking necessary actions.
First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Viktor Dubovyk underlined that the comprehensive approach to the security makes the OSCE an important and unique platform for enhanced co-operation mechanisms in fighting human trafficking.
OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Maria Grazia Giammarinaro in her address said: “It is time to acknowledge that trafficking in human beings has developed since the international community and States first started to understand and address it. It is time to reaffirm the OSCE Action Plan and to look back and forward at the same time: to see where our anti-trafficking action has worked and where we have failed, where our efforts need to be adjusted, updated and enhanced.”
Special Representative of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on human trafficking issues Christopher Smith was quoted as saying: “We are all responsible for ending this dehumanizing crime, but the fact is airline, hotel and transportation professionals are in a unique position to identify potential victims to get them help they need. I have no doubt that if airline and other transportation personnel were appropriately trained, hundreds, maybe thousands, more lives could be saved.”
Addressing the participants, Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said: “ODIHR has been working in the area of combating trafficking in human beings for more than a decade. Together with the Office of the Special Representative, the participating States and non-state actors, we have come a long way. But there is still a lot more to do to finally eradicate this scourge.”
Joy Smith, Member of Parliament of Canada and Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Canada reaffirmed her country’s commitment to the fight against trafficking in human beings, including through the implementation of its National Action Plan.
Many other renowned national and international experts on combating human trafficking were also speaking at the event, which was held at the DiplomaticAcademy of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
The conference brought together leading experts and officials from across the OSCE region. They discussed ways to update the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings adopted in 2003 and revised in 2005.