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Trafficking for labour exploitation should be tackled as serious crime, warns OSCE Special Representative



© OSCE/Alberto Andreani(OSCE) - Trafficking for labour exploitation is widespread and countries need to take more effective measures to adequately tackle new trends in this form of modern-day slavery, said the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, at a regional conference in Tbilisi today.


The two-day conference focusing on building partnerships to combat human trafficking and forced labour is part of a European Union-funded regional anti-trafficking project in the South Caucasus. The project is implemented jointly by the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, the OSCE Offices in Baku and Yerevan, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).


The event brought together international experts and stakeholders from OSCE participating States in the South Caucasus and other areas. Representatives of government and law enforcement agencies, as well as international and non-governmental organizations and workers' and employers' associations discussed new aspects of ever-changing migration flows involving the region and their impact on trafficking for labour exploitation.


Giammarinaro stressed that various factors can also radically and swiftly change the pattern of human trafficking: "Countries in the South Caucasus region should be alerted that organized crime immediately reacts to the demand for cheap and socially unprotected labour, transforming traditional countries of origin into countries of destination for persons trafficked from other States and regions."


This new trend has to be tackled comprehensively, with due regard to the needs of victims for protection and assistance without discrimination, and through vigorous investigation and prosecution of offenders, she added.


Giammarinaro concluded: "To eradicate human trafficking and forced labour, States should take more effective measures, including with respect to training for public officials likely to come into contact with cases of labour exploitation. Too often these two crimes are wrongly qualified as smuggling of migrants or minor violations of labour law, leaving the criminals with impunity and the victims without due assistance and protection."