Anti-slave trade ‘inaction’ angers Swedish MEP

The Swedish MEP tasked with tackling human trafficking has expressed her frustration over the fact that so few EU member states have implemented anti-slave trade laws put forward two years ago.

Anti-slave trade 'inaction' angers Swedish MEP

Almost three weeks past the stipulated deadline, Sweden is one of only six EU countries to write the changes into national law. Latvia, Finland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland have also acted.

“It is particularly sad when all the evidence points to human trafficking increasing substantially in Europe,” Anna Hedh, Swedish Social Democrat MEP, told The Local.

The changes are included in Directive 2011/36/EU, which was adopted by the European Commission in 2011 and included a two-year deadline for member states to comply.

Hedh learned during her work preparing the legislation, however, that some member states were hesitant to discuss the victims’ rights.

“A few countries thought the victims got too much help, saying that some make themselves into victims to get that help,” she explained.

More than two years later, Hedh said she understood the need for time and resources to implement the law changes, in particular if aspects jarred with a member state’s constitution, but added that the countries had been given ample time to act.

“I know these things can take time, but the member states have had two years and 20 days to adopt the legislation,” said Hedh, who is part of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European parliament.

In a communique from Brussels sent out on Friday, Hedh said research found that almost two thirds of people traded as slaves were forced into prostitution. Seven out of ten victims were women. A quarter of trafficked people ended up in forced domestic service. There were also incidents of organ trafficking and begging rackets across the EU.

An estimated 15 percent of the modern-day slaves were children, she summarized.

Hedh now wants Sweden’s European Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, who oversees the union’s home affairs, to act. Malmström has already written about the inaction in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and on April 15th published a report into traficking, also underlining that law changes could ”

“She is the minister in charge and it’s the Commission’s job to make sure member states adopt legislation,” Hedh told The Local.

“And if they don’t the Commission has to put its foot down.”

Ann Törnkvist

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