The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation with organizations La Strada in the Czech Republic and in Poland organized an expert round table on 28 January 2021. The round table was attended by professionals from Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland who work in the field of prevention and fight against human trafficking.
The online meeting welcomed speakers from Slovakia, Belgium and the United Kingdom (UK) who presented the concept of responsible shopping of food and clothes and ways of preventing exploitation of workers in these fields abroad. The departure of the UK from the EU and its affect on the fight against human trafficking was also discussed during the round table.
Daniel Redondo from IOM Brussels introduced the European legislation on the fight against human trafficking and the current numbers of victims in Europe. Based on the EU sources, 26 268 victims of human trafficking were identified in EU countries in 2017 – 2018, out of which 144 were identified in Slovakia. 43 % of them were victims of sexual exploitation, while 27 % were victims of forced begging.
Rachel Wilshaw from OXFAM International presented her organization’s campaign which motivates supermarkets operating in the UK to protect the workers‘ right in the entire supply chain of fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea and other products. Every year OXFAM updates the so-called Supermarket Scorecard scoring the biggest supermarkets in the UK based on how they treat the workers‘ rights, targeting its campaign at those scoring the least points every year.
Martina Mareková Kuipers from the Fashion Revolution drew the participants‘ attention to the fashion industry. She presented responsible and sustainable methods of shopping so that the exploitation of workers, as well as enormous environmental impact of this industry is minimalized.
Phil Brewer from Human Trafficking Foundation introduced an interesting social media campaign from 2019 which alerted people to risks of human trafficking and warned potential victims. The campaign was targeted at Lithuanians working in eastern England or considering going to work there. After this campaign the local helping organizations recorded an increase in calls and contact with them. Based on the post-campaign survey, 18 % of respondents from the target group knew where to turn for help in case of need.
The affect of UK’s departure from the EU on the victims themselves and its impact on the assistance available in the UK was presented by Anita Barylska from the East European Resource Centre. She highlighted the risks faced by low-skilled workers after the UK has left the EU. Obtaining work visa for low-skilled jobs without a sufficient level of English is not possible. This increases the risks that low-skilled workers will find a job without the needed permits which puts them in a vulnerable position. Re-trafficking of workers constitutes another major risk. The network of perpetrators is often so complex and refined that even when the victim manages to escape, without the needed permits they will fall into the traffickers‘ net again.
The expert round table was organized by IOM Slovakia under the framework of regional project SAFE Work and Travel – Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings in SK, CZ and PL. IOM implements the project jointly with organizations La Strada in the Czech Republic and Poland.
The project is funded by the International Visegrad Fund.