Ms Vassiliadou continued by way of example by calculating the profits made in 2016 by traffickers who trafficked Nigerian women arriving to Italy for the purpose of sexual exploitation. According to an estimate by the International Organisation for Migration, 80% of the 11,000 Nigerian women and girls who reached Italy in 2016 were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Based on an estimated figure of five punters per day with earnings of €30 per customer, this can amount to a profit of €500 million just in this specific case. Ms Vassiliadou stressed that this example only concerns one single form of exploitation, one single nationality and only women. She mentioned in this respect that trafficking in human beings from West African countries to Europe has increased, Germany being one of the main destinations. However, she also pointed out that large numbers of trafficked persons come from Europe, including Germany, and that trafficking in human beings is not only a migration-related offence, there are significant number of EU victims. She stressed that people do not become victim because they are vulnerable, they become victim because of the profit generated from the crime.
In order to counteract the “culture of impunity”, it is important to ensure that perpetrators are convicted, added Ms Vassiliadou. She stressed in this respect how complex trafficking chains are, stating that much still needs to be done. For example, as was shown by an EU Commission report, not all countries have taken measures to criminalise those exploiting trafficked persons. The European Agency for Human Rights also pointed out in its SELEX II report that trafficked persons have voiced their disappointment at the lack of repercussions for perpetrators.
Ms Vassiliadou went on to mention EU funding opportunities for anti-trafficking-related projects and stressed that the projects funded between 2004 and 2015 mainly related to labour exploitation, as became apparent through a study. In addition to improving prosecution efforts, the EU’s new policy priorities set out in December 2017 also include the prevention of trafficking, to disrupt the criminal business model and untangling the trafficking chain and ensuring more intensive coordination and support and protection of trafficked persons. What is particularly important in this respect is that trafficked persons be seen as holding rights and that gender-specific measures be implemented.
The Commission has followed the implementation of the Directive and found that despite the considerable progress made, there are still a certain number of shortcomings, e.g. relating to child protection, to compensation or to the non-punishment clause. The EU Commission would continue to offer its support in this respect, but may also intervene if EU law is not implemented. The EU Commission consider that the implementation of the existing innovative measures should be in focus. Nevertheless, there is a need to gather reliable data, to undermine the high profits generated by trafficking in human beings and to reject any “culture of impunity”.