Swedish ambassador to fight human trafficking

Sweden's foreign ministry will appoint a special ambassador to combat human trafficking in a bid to increase its international cooperation efforts, it said on Monday.

“The ambassador will coordinate the work that is being done within the foreign ministry, for example in the field of human rights and development aid,” ministry spokeswoman Kerstin Olsson told AFP.

She said the ambassador’s name would be disclosed in the coming days.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson said the aim was “to put increasing pressure on the people organising this trafficking. The goal is to stop it altogether”.

“The fact that people trafficking is taking place in Sweden, in the Baltic Sea countries or in the world as a whole is an unacceptable phenomenon,” he said, adding that trafficking also has links with “other serious international crime”.

The ambassador will be based in Stockholm and will work closely with international and multilateral organisations, as well as other countries and development agencies.

Sweden has previously appointed special ambassadors on terrorism, human rights and humanitarian issues.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Thomas Bodström criticized German police for not taking the human trafficking problem seriously enough during the ongoing football World Cup.

“I think they should do more against human trafficking, but they don’t think it’s a big problem,” Bodström was quoted as saying in Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet on Monday.

The International Organisation for Migration estimates that some 200,000 people are trafficked into and within Europe every year, the majority of them women and girls for sexual exploitation.

Together with the Swedish development agency Sida, the IOM has launched a special campaign aimed at raising awareness of the risk of human trafficking and forced prostitution on the sidelines of the World Cup.

Campaigners fear that as many as 40,000 women, mainly from eastern Europe, could be coerced into the sex industry during the World Cup.