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Workshop: Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings for Labour Exploitation

Trafficking in human beings is a severe violation of human rights. Those affected are exploited. They are often invisible, helpless and do not know their own rights. Therefore, the Federal Government intends to combat human trafficking in all forms early and effectively. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is the lead Ministry for the issue of trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation. The most relevant measures and experiences are being discussed by a Federal Working Group set up by Labour Minister Andrea Nahles.

The third meeting of the Working Group took place on 27 April 2016 and focussed on "Prevention through Sensitization and Public Relations Work". For the prevention of and fight against human trafficking, information campaigns and training courses for authorities and persons who have contact with potential victims are just as important as the provision of information and help for people who are potential victims of human trafficking and labour exploitation.

A large number of national and international experts were invited to the meeting. Ruth Pojman, Deputy Co-ordinator, OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, informed the audience about different fields of prevention. The representative of the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe emphasized that especially in the context of the current migration movements, vulnerable groups - above all children - can quickly become victims of human trafficking and violent exploitation. She said that it took early integration and information to protect refugees from becoming victims of labour exploitation. She added that trafficking in human beings and exploitation in international supply chains and the responsibility of governments and the private sector in this regard were also a matter of concern to her. In this context, she commended the German G7 initiative "Standards in supply chains", especially the newly introduced Vision Zero Fund for prevention and workplace safety and health.

Peter Van Hauvermeiren, Director-General Sozialinspectorat in the Social Affairs Ministry of Belgium, was the second international guest. His Directorate-General has been actively involved in the fight against human trafficking since the 1990s. Unlike Germany, Belgium has labour inspectors who are deployed nationwide, carry out inspections without prior notice and also have a mandate to investigate possible cases of labour exploitation. The labour inspectorate works together closely with the police, the public prosecuting authorities and also with counselling services for affected persons. Peter Van Hauvermeiren emphasized that it was particularly important for the different players to network in order to be able to act against human trafficking effectively and with sustainable effect at the national level.

Dr Annette Niederfranke, Director of the ILO office in Berlin, presented the "50 for freedom" campaign. In 2014, the ILO adopted a new Protocol to complement Convention 29 on the abolition of forced labour from 1930. Up until now, this legally binding document has been ratified by four states only; Germany is in the ratification process and intends to finalize parliamentary procedures for its implementation in the current legislative period. She also presented the "Checkpoint Eliminating and preventing forced labour" app. As an interactive checklist, it helps above all inspectors to recognize exploitation and forced labour.

After these presentations, concrete experiences gained in preventive work were discussed. As a follow-up to this workshop, a Sub-Working Group will draft a paper specifying how sensitization training and public relations campaigns should be designed. What has to be taken into account when potential victims are being contacted? What kind of information do they need? How do they get the information needed? What are the most frequent indicators of labour exploitation and how do training courses for staff members of the criminal police need to be designed? How can we sensitize public prosecuting authorities to the offence of trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation?

The work of the Sub-Working Group will be fed into an overall strategy for the fight against human trafficking for labour exploitation, which is to be drawn up by the end of 2016. For this purpose, a Working Group met in March 2016 to deal with "Setting up effective counselling and support structures". Another workshop is scheduled to take place on 3 June 2016 to consider the issue of "Prosecution of human trafficking, forced labour and exploitation under criminal law"; here, too, a Sub-Working Group will be set up.