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La lucha contra la trata de personas

The European Court of Human Rights condemns the Croatian Government for failure to hold effective investigation into allegation of human trafficking and exploitation of prostitution. 

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The European Court of Human Rights condemns the Croatian Government for failure to hold effective investigation into allegation of human trafficking and exploitation of prostitution

Facts : The applicant lodged a criminal complaint against a certain T.M., a former policeman, alleging that in the period between the summer of 2011 and September of the same year he had physically and psychologically forced her into prostitution. T.M. was subsequently indicted on charges of forcing another to prostitution, as an aggravated offence of organising prostitution. In 2013 the criminal court acquitted T.M. on the grounds that, although it had been established that he had organised a prostitution ring in which he had recruited the applicant, it had not been established that he had forced her into prostitution. He had only been indicted for the aggravated form of the offence at issue and thus he could not be convicted for the basic form of organising prostitution. The State Attorney’s Office appeal against the decision was dismissed and the applicant’s constitutional complaint was declared inadmissible.

Law – Article 4 : The trafficking and exploitation of prostitution threatened the human dignity and fundamental freedoms of its victims and could not be considered compatible with a democratic society and the values expounded in the Convention. It was considered unnecessary to identify whether the treatment of which the applicant complained constituted “slavery”, “servitude” or “forced and compulsory labour”. Instead, it was concluded that trafficking itself as well as exploitation of prostitution – within the meaning of Article 3(a) of the Palermo Protocol, Article 4 (a) of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (Anti-Trafficking Convention), Article 1 of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – fell within the scope of Article 4. In this connection it was irrelevant that the applicant was actually a national of the respondent State and that there was no international element since Article 2 of the Anti-Trafficking Convention encompassed “all forms of trafficking in human beings, whether national or transnational” and the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others referred to exploitation of prostitution in general.

The Court noted that the applicant’s complaints had 3 aspects and assessed them separately:

▶ Whether there was an appropriate legal and regulatory framework. 

Prostitution in Croatia was illegal. Both exploitation of prostitution including forced prostitution, as the aggravated form of the former, and personal offering of sexual services were criminalised. The criminal offences of trafficking in human beings, slavery, forced labour and the criminal offence of pandering were prohibited. The consent of a victim was irrelevant for the existence of the criminal offence of trafficking in human beings and since 2013 the same was expressly stated in Criminal Code for pandering. Furthermore, since 2013 purchase of sexual services constituted a criminal act. Prosecution in respect of all of the above offences was undertaken by the State Attorney’s Office. The Croatian Code of Criminal Procedure also contained provisions on the rights of victims of criminal offences and in particular the victims of offences against sexual freedom. Further to this, the Croatian Government had adopted various strategic documents aimed at preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and had established specialised teams designated with providing assistance to the victims of trafficking in human beings. The Court was therefore satisfied that at the time the alleged offence had been committed and prosecuted there was an adequate legal framework in Croatia for its examination within the context of trafficking in human beings, forced prostitution and exploitation of prostitution.

▶ Support given to the applicant. 

The applicant had never objected to or brought any complaint as to the conduct of the national authorities, including the court conducting the criminal proceedings against T.M., or any other authority, or any complaint whatsoever concerning her rights as a victim of human trafficking, or concerning the assistance, support and any form of counselling provided to her or the lack of it. During the trial the applicant had been informed of the possibility to contact the Department for Organising and Providing Support for Witnesses and Victims within the criminal court. There was no evidence that the applicant had contacted the said Department. In those circumstances the Court accepted that the applicant had indeed been provided with the support and assistance as submitted by the Government. That included in the first place recognition of her status as a victim of human trafficking. As such she had been provided counselling by the Croatian Red Cross and free legal assistance through the State-funded programme carried out by a non-governmental organisation. Furthermore, immediately upon the applicant’s request the accused had been removed from the courtroom and the applicant had given evidence in his absence.

▶ Whether the State authorities complied with their procedural obligations.

The police and the prosecuting authorities had acted promptly, in particular in carrying out searches of T.M.’s premises, interviewing the applicant and indicting T.M. On the other hand the only witnesses interviewed during the investigation and heard at the trial were the applicant herself and her friend. Whereas it was true that her friend had not entirely corroborated the applicant’s statement, there was indication that it was her friend’s mother and not her friend to whom the applicant had turned for help and with whom she had spoken on the telephone on the day she had fled. Immediately after having run from T.M., the applicant had spent several months with her friend and the latter’s mother. However, the investigating authorities had not obtained a statement from the mother. Likewise, they had not interviewed her friend’s boyfriend, who had driven her to her friend’s flat. Those elements demonstrated that the national authorities had not made a serious attempt to investigate in depth all relevant circumstances and gather all the available evidence. They had not made further attempts to identify the applicant’s clients and interview them. They also had not heard evidence from the applicant’s mother, the landlord and neighbours of the applicant and T.M., all of whom could have had some relevant knowledge of the true relationship between the applicant and T.M., alleged beatings and locking her up in the apartment.

There was no indication that the national authorities had made a serious attempt to investigate in depth the following circumstances, which all had been relevant for assessing whether T.M. had forced the applicant into prostitution: the applicant’s allegations of being economically dependent on T.M. and of various forms of coercion he had allegedly used against her, such as stressing being a former policeman who had “an arsenal of weapons”, making threats of hurting her family and manipulating her with false promises that he would find her a “proper job”, as well as her friend’s statement that the applicant had been very distressed and scared of T.M. who had continued to threaten her through social media network after she had fled. It appeared that no consideration had been given to the fact that during the search of T.M.’s premises the police had found several pieces of automatic rifles. The national courts had not given adequate attention to those elements and concluded that the applicant had given sexual services voluntarily. Furthermore, according to Croatian law, the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others and the Council of Europe Anti-trafficking Convention, the consent of the victim was irrelevant. In addition, the national courts had dismissed the applicant’s testimony as unreliable and incoherent, given that she had been unsure, paused and hesitated when speaking. The national authorities had not made any assessment of the possible impact of psychological trauma on the applicant’s ability to consistently and clearly relate the circumstances of her exploitation. Given the vulnerability of the victims of sexually-related offences, the encounter with T.M. in the courtroom could have had an adverse effect on the applicant, regardless of T.M being subsequently removed from the courtroom.

In sum, the relevant State authorities had not fulfilled their procedural obligations under Article 4 of the Convention.

Conclusion: violation (six votes to one).

Article 41 : EUR 5,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

This case «S.M. v. Croatia» was first judged by a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, on 19th July 2018. The Court held a Grand Chamber hearing in the case of «S.M. v. Croatia» on 15th May 2019. This case is now being deliberated.

Learn more : Case of the European Court of human Rights, 19th July 2018.

South Africa. Prostitution. Abolitionist Movement «KWANELE».

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▶ Mickey MEJI founded in South Africa the abolitionist movement of women survivors of prostitution «KWANELE».

▶ Having experienced prostitution for 9 years, she has especially campaigned with the sex work Lobby before becoming an abolitionist. 

▶ Today, she fights for the voices of the survivors (700) and their true wishes for their future.

▶  This abolitionist Movement encourages the penalization of customers.

Prostitution violates the right to human dignity and also threatens the right to life by reducing life expectancy and increasing exposure to violence that leads to murder.

Learn more Mickey MEJI. Prostitution and society. Abolitionist Movement.

Cambodia. Trafficking in human beings with Surrogacy. Criminal business with Surrogacy.

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CAMBODIA. 

▶ Justice in this country fights against the proliferation of children trafficking since the Surrogacy-based reproductive industry has elected it as a host country.

▶ According to a Police Report, 32 women were hired by the leaders of this ring, who promised a sum of $10,000 / baby, to carry and to sell their baby, through a mechanism of surrogacy.

They were given $500 cash up front and then $300 per month while carrying their babies, the report said.

After delivery, they were to get the remaining $6,000 from the ring’s leader, who was operating the scheme under the business name «Fertility Solutions PGD».

In a similar case in August last year, the court sentenced Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles and two Cambodians to 18 months in jail each for their role in a surrogacy business that began in Thailand and moved to Cambodia after a Thai crackdown.

▶ Surrogacy is a criminal business that is a trafficking of women and children, which violates all fundamental rights.

▶ In Cambodia, the leaders of this criminal network face sentences of up to 20 years in jail.

Learn more : khmertimes /Cambodian authorities convict a criminal surrogacy ring.

Report of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of 2017 : enhancing the Safety and Sustainability of the Return and Reintegration of Victims of Trafficking 

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This Report is part of IOM‘s implementation of two separate but complementary projects : the CARE project (Coordinated Approach for the Reintegration of Victims of Trafficking who voluntarily return to a third country) and the TACT project (Action Transnational – Safe and dignified return and reintegration of victims of trafficking who voluntarily return to three priority countries : Albania, Morocco and Ukraine).

These two projects involved a total of nine EU Member States – Austria, Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom – which have committed to improve the return and reintegration programs available to victims of trafficking (VTT), in order to make this process safer and more sustainable, and to reduce the risk of victims being re-captured by a network of trafficking in human beings (THB). With this goal in mind, IOM, through the implementation of these two projects, has been working to develop, implement and refine standard operating procedures (SOPs) to guide the return and reintegration of victims of trafficking, and thus ensure continuity of support in this process.

This report aims to gather and share lessons learned from the implementation of these two projects and to identify avenues for the development of transnational guidance mechanisms (TRMs) between EU Member States and third countries.

The issue of transnational referral mechanisms is a key priority in the EU’s current anti-trafficking efforts, as mentioned in the EU Strategy for the Eradication of Human Trafficking1.

Ex : In 2014, 70 IOM offices located in host countries and 170 countries of origin were involved in supporting 43,786 migrants for a voluntarily return, on a worldwide scale.

Sources : IOM’s Report of 2017 : enhancing-safety-and-sustainability-return-and-reintegration-victims-trafficking

 

HAND 4 BURMA e. V – An N.G.O. to support the Rohingya minority.

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PERSECUTION OF THE ROHINGYAS – PLIGHT OF THE REFUGEES

The Rohingya minority is one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya community is an unmistakable and serious breach of international Human Rights Laws. Successive Burmese military governments have since early 1970s viewed the Rohingya Muslim minority, who live on their ancestral borderlands between the Islamic country of Bangladesh and Buddhist Myanmar, as “a threat to Myanmar’s national security and local Buddhist culture”.

The Rohingya persecution by the Myanmar military began in 1978 under the pretext of a crackdown on the illegal Bengali immigration into Western Myanmar from the then newly independent Bangladesh. The military used the Rohingya as a proxy population against the extremely nationalistic and anti-Myanmar Rakhine people, who resent Myanmar rule as a colonial occupation of their once sovereign nation.

The United Nations has repeatedly referred to human rights violations in the region, but the government of State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi systematically refutes these reports.

On the ground, the soldiers and policemen, who are deployed in western Burma, obey the army chief, not the Aung San Suu Kyi government.

HAND 4 BURMA e. V – AN N.G.O. TO SUPPORT THE ROHINGYA MINORITY

Hand 4 Burma e. V is registered under German court n° VR 5730. Hand 4 Burma e. V has been helping the poor and needy in Bangladesh & Myanmar unregistered refugee camps since 2016 after Genocide begun in Arakan State in Myanmar. Hand 4 Burma e. V is an N.G.O. registered in GERMANY and is a professional group comprised of the Rohingya community. Its aim is to lead the path for effective change in the Rakhine state of Myanmar and Rohingya diaspora, where persons belonging to the Rohingya community are being persecuted daily.

Access to international aid workers and journalists is severely restricted in this area.

Hand 4 Burma e.V is actively seeking partnerships and associations with other development organisations for the following purposes :

  • Technical assistance and training support ;
  • Humanitarian aid ;
  • Community based organizations for self help initiatives ;
  • Community service organizations for identifying working opportunities ;
  • Emergency healthcare through mobile clinics, food and water and medicine.

HAND 4 BURMA e. V has become a Member and a Partner of the European Observatory for Non-Discrimination and Fundamental Rights.

HAND 4 BURMA E.V.

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Yazda – An International Yazidi Organization to support the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group.

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YAZDA – An International Yazidi Organization

Yazda Organization is a US-based, 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, established to support the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group in the United States and the Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. Yazda’s mission is to support the Yazidi community in the aftermath of the August 2014 genocide, committed by the so-called “Islamic State”, that resulted in the death of three to five thousand civilians ; abduction of five to seven thousand, mostly woman and children; and the displacement of 400,000 people from the Yazidi homelands in Sinjar, the Nineveh plain, and Syria.

OENDDF’s social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) : «Yazidi genocide is a reality. Yazda organisation is now established to prevent future genocides».

Yazda Organisation has become a partner and a Member of the The European Observatory for Non-Discrimination and Fundamental Rights.

 

Yazda Organisation is now established to prevent future genocides.


Sources : the recognition of the Yazidi Genocide – Yazda Organisation (https://www.yazda.org/the-recognition-of-the-yazidi-genocide/)

«The Yazidi people are undergoing a genocide. 85% of the Yazidi population is displaced and over 3,000 women and children remain the captives of ISIS, continually raped and forced to work as slaves.

The international community has produced a definition of genocide, which has been used previously in International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia (i.e., there is a precedent, and the International Criminal Court must recognize the horrors taking place in Iraq and take immediate action):

1) The mental element, meaning the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”, and

2) The physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called “genocide.”
Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.
Yazidis have been treated as lesser citizens in Iraq, adding to their difficulties in obtaining legal assistance. Historically, there have been misunderstandings regarding the Yazidi religion, which celebrates God and seven angels. One of these angels has a name which falls close to the devil in Islam. Thus the ethno-religious minority group, the Yazidi, have been massacred dozens of times over the past millennium. Yet today they are being captured and slaughtered by a known and recognized terrorist group, one opposed globally, while the international community makes no strides to assist them.
Multiple United Nations reports have classified ISIS’ attacks on the Yazidi people as genocide, and recognize it as an ongoing problem.

We have seen such ethnic “cleansings” before. The Jewish people, historically persecuted time and again, were killed by the millions in the Holocaust before the international community began to provide assistance. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsi were killed in Rwanda in a matter of months. The Yazidi population is already low: estimated at a mere 700,000.

The Yazidi men are being slaughtered, the women and children captured and enslaved. The women and girls are subject to rape (including girls as young as 6, and if the rape is followed by pregnancy, forcible abortions as well), torture, and forced religious conversion. The captured boys were also forcibly converted and indoctrinated with the extremist views of ISIS to serve as soldiers. ISIS is killing both the people and the Yazidi culture.

Seniors members of Yazda and human rights advocates have been pleading the case of the Yazidi people, but thus far to little avail. Most recently, Nadia Murad, herself a survivor of ISIS enslavement, participated in an event in Australia to address the crimes ISIS has committed against minorities in Syria and Iraq and attempts to have the ISIS survivors relocated to Australia.

Increased international attention, both on the slaughter of the Yazidi and the plight of the remaining survivors (current slaves, escaped slaves, and relocated refugees), is a step towards holding ISIS accountable for their heinous and inhumane actions. While last year the UN was dragging its feet on recognizing this crisis as a genocide, based on the definitions accepted in the past courts and ongoing situation, it is clear what is happening in Iraq.

Yet it is clear that the ongoing crisis in Iraq and Syria involving the systemic decimation of the Yazidi people falls under the jurisdiction of the ICC and that ISIS is in the process of committing genocide against them.

ISIS has stated outright that they aim to eliminate the Yazidi population. Those who are captured are forced to convert, those who will not convert are killed. By destroying the homes and communities as well, surviving Yazidi can never return to their homes.

Without help from the international community, the Yazidi people may never recover. Not only do they need aid in defense from ISIS attacks, but also resources. The majority of these people have been relocated to refugee camps (and in many of these are still targets of violence) without adequate supplies. The women and children who have escaped the slavery of ISIS need counseling and support to begin to come to terms with the awful events that have befallen them.

For those who have already been killed in ISIS attacks, Yazda is attempting to document the bodies remaining in mass graves to provide closure to families. Those who still live in Iraq and in unsafe refugee camps need resettlement options, but the ICC is refusing to hear these cases for a minimum of six years. Six more years living under the constant threat of extermination in Iraq and Kurdistan, or without adequate food and shelter in a refugee camp. This is unacceptable.

Yazda further seeks assistance once the Yazidi people have been liberated from Iraq. Not only do the victims of ISIS deserve justice, but there need be new international measures that prevent such genocide from once again befalling the Yazidi.

For over a year, Yazda has been struggling to force recognition of the genocide beyond merest lip service to action. It is the most basic, humanitarian responsibility of the international community to provide assistance. The Yazidi people are dying. They need help».


 

10th European Union Anti-Trafficking Day. Access to justice for all.

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Access to justice for all those who are victims of trafficking in human beings must be a priority of the Member States of the European Union.

1. EU POLICY

On the 10th october 2016, the European Commission reports on Member States measures to combat trafficking in human beings

The European Commission has adopted today two Reports on the prevention and combating of trafficking in human beings and the protection of victims of trafficking. This Report responds to the requirements of Article 23 of the Directive and aims to effectively promote the objectives of the Directive.

10th October 2016 : 10th EU Anti-Trafficking Day – European Commission calls for intensified efforts to address new challenges

The European Commission marks the 10th EU Anti-Trafficking Day today urging a reinvigoration of joint efforts across the Union to eradicate trafficking in human beings. On the occasion of the 10th EU Anti-Trafficking Day, the European Commission is presenting a comprehensive policy review of anti-trafficking projects funded by the Commission between 2004 and 2015, while public authorities, civil society and citizens organise and participate in events all across Europe to mobilize social awareness.

First Report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings

First Report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings (2016) as required under Article 20 of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.

This is the first Commission report on trafficking in human beings since the adoption of the anti-trafficking Directive.

Comprehensive Policy Review of Anti-Trafficking Projects

The Comprehensive Policy Review of Anti-Trafficking Projects, a study completed as a deliverable of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016).

The Study examined how the projects contributed to the work against trafficking in human beings at the EU level and more precisely to the priorities of the Commission in this area, projects contributed to the work against trafficking in human beings at the EU level and more precisely to the priorities of the Commission in this area.

Study on the gender dimension of trafficking in human beings

The purpose of this study is to contribute to the identification and understanding of what it means to be «taking into account the gender perspective, to strengthen the prevention of this crime and protection of the victims thereof», as required in Article 1 of the European Union Directive – EU Directive 2011/36/EU on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims in the context of the EU Strategy (COM(2012) 286 final – towards the eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings.

3. LEGISLATION AND CASE LAW

Directive 2011/36/EU

The European Commission welcomed the publication on 5 April 2011 of the EU directive 2011/36/EU on prevention and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ L 101, 1 15.4.2011). The adoption followed a Commission Directive proposal, with binding legislation to prevent trafficking, to effectively prosecute criminals, and to better protect the victims, in line with the highest European standards.