Welcome speech Colloquy Trafficking and Prostitution

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Various migration flows linked to women trafficking and forced prostitution can be seen in present-day Europe, originating in the Balkans, central Europe and Eastern Europe. There is also trafficking in women within the countries

Trafficking a big problem and deserves our full attention. Powerful international criminal networks control it. This is an extremely lucrative market and creates ideal conditions for corruption. Not only in eastern European countries, also in Western Europe. Despite international organisation’s efforts to combat the trade, the various conventions available lack teeth, and this makes it difficult to standardise national response to the problem and to establish co-operation.
Co-operation is indispensable. Countries of origin and transit countries need to be closely involved in it.

The Council of Europe always recommended to the member states of the Council, to appoint a national rapporteur in trafficking in human beings. The national rapporteur in the Netherlands, Mrs Korvinus, is here today and will brief you on her findings.

Last autumn Europol presented a combined strategy paper on illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings. It was thought to be more effective to combine the strategies to combat illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings. I think this is a mistake. The Europol strategy paper fails to recognise the fact that only a small proportion of victims of trafficking has been smuggled into the European Union and also fails to meet the objectives of preventing and suppressing the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation.

There are three manifestations of trafficking.
Firstly, Trafficking occurs with victims who are taken illegally across the borders. Secondly, victims are taken legally across the borders and last but not least the national manifestations where a member states own nationals are forcefully exploited. Only a small percentage of trafficked victims are smuggled into EU borders. This means, and I would like to stress this, that effective barriers against illegal immigration will therefore have limited impact upon trafficking in human beings.
Mrs Vollenbrecht of the national police would have loved to discuss this issue, but unluckily she had to cancel this meeting because all the experts of the police on trafficking in human beings in the Netherlands are busy today in their own expert meeting. But I am sure that the experts invited here today can fill that gap.

The council of Europe defines trafficking in women and forced prostitution as any legal or illegal transporting of women and/or trade in them, with or without their initial consent, for economic gain, with the purpose of subsequent forced prostitution, forced marriage or other forms of forced exploitation.

Despite the efforts of the Council of Europe and other international organisations to combat migration linked to trafficking and forced prostitution, the migration continues to flourish in the Council of Europe member state. Countries can be divided into countries of origin, transit countries and destination countries. A full assessment of the situation is difficult as a country may be simultaneously a country of origin, a transit country and a destination country. All participants and experts gathered here today come either from a country of origin, a transit country and a destination country or from a combination country. I am sure we can learn a lot from each other.

Young women are enticed by offers of employment abroad as dancers, bar hostesses or au pairs and end up, sold and in debt, on the pavements of some unknown country. There are also women who know that they will work as a prostitute. Their biggest problem is that they cannot get a working permit and are thus totally dependant. I am sure we will discuss this issue further today.

It is important to make a clear distinction between legal prostitution and forced prostitution, in casu sexual exploitation.

In 2000 a new Act came into force in the Netherlands, lifting the ban on brothels. Brothels were adult prostitutes choose to work voluntary are no longer prohibited. At the same time, legislation on unacceptable forms of prostitution has become more severe. It is a serious offence to traffic in persons, to force another person into prostitution or to involve a minor in prostitution. By legalizing the employment of prostitutes the government is thought to exercise more control over the sex industry and counter abuses. This approach should be in the interest of the prostitutes themselves, and will also facilitate action against sexual violence, abuse and the trafficking.
The punishable forms of prostitution tend to take place in the unregulated sector of prostitution (like streetwalking or mobile forms of prostitution). Forced prostitution and under-age prostitution are especially vulnerable in the unregulated sector.
Last month one of the outcomes of an evaluation of this new act showed that there was no confirmation for an often-assumed large-scale escape into unregulated sector. Therefore no conclusions can be drawn concerning a possible increase or decrease of the number of forced prostitutes
This afternoon we will discuss the impact of legalizing prostitution on illegal prostitution.

It is always good to discuss issues. It is even better to combine it with visits on the spot. That is why there is the possibility this evening to visit the prostitution area in The Hague by bus.
Tomorrow we will go to Amsterdam and have a discussion with the union of prostitutes and we’ll visit the prostitution information centre. Amsterdam is a beautiful city and has a lot more to offer. That is why we will have a roundtrip through the canals and have lunch on the boat.

I hope we have a good discussion today and I am sure we all learn a lot from each other and that we come up with some good recommendations which can be put in the report.

Thanks again for coming here and enjoy your stay in the Netherlands.

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