The symposium „10 years of the Convention of the Council of Europe against Trafficking in Human Beings – Stagnation or Progress?”, organized by the KOK, the German NGO Network against Trafficking in Human Beings, has been held on 15th and 16th October in the premises of the Permanent Representation of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen in Berlin. Various experts of the civil society, prosecution authorities and international organizations, as well as political representatives from the state and federal state level, discussed current developments in the policy field of Trafficking in Human Beings in general, and the question “How effective are the measures for Trafficked Persons in Germany?” in particular.
The key issue of the symposium has been the current state of the implementation of the EU-Directive (2011/36) on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims and the Convention of the Council of Europe against Trafficking in Human Beings in Germany. The present experts tried to identify areas that will need further political attention to comply with international standards on combating Human Trafficking and protecting its victims. In particular, the question of how to handle the phenomena of the so-called “additional forms of exploitation” (e.g. forced begging and the exploitation of criminal activities) in the German legislation and legal practice has been addressed. The question, what kind of victim support structures are already existent and how they can and shall be extended to meet the needs of victims of all kinds of trafficking has been discussed. In order to deal with those topics in a profound manner, experiences and recommendations from European countries whose legislations already comply with European legal standards have been presented. Additionally best practices from selected federal states have been presented. Moreover, the general structures in Germany, the advancement of current cooperation mechanisms among relevant actors and technical implementation in the legislation has been reflected on.
The experts from Germany and abroad were given the opportunity to discuss several aspects of the aforementioned topics in three broad podium events. With practical contributions from Germany, Austria and the UK, as well as insights into the recommendations of areas with need for actions, those discussions have been substantiated with valuable contents. A panel with speakers from all political parties in Germany and a representative of the GRETA commission specifically addressed which areas have a need for action and which international standards have been already implemented successfully.
With the main speeches from representatives of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the subject has been put in a wider global context.
A similar event with an equally comprehensive approach that covered all forms of exploitation and included contributions from Federal States, as well as the state level and the international arena, has not been hold in this manner in the year of 2015.
With 100 participants from political organizations, the civil society, police and prosecution authorities, government agencies, state departments and the academic community, the symposium has followed an interdisciplinary approach.
Naile Tanış, Executive Director of KOK
Ulrike Hiller, State Councilor, Representative of the Free Hanseatic city of Bremen for Federal and European Affairs
Andrea Hitzke, Executive Committee of KOK/ Dortmunder Mitternachtsmission
Ruth Freedom Pojman, Deputy Co-ordinator of the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Being
The speech given by Ruth Freedom Pojman during the symposium can be downloaded here.
Implementation of the EU-Directive (2011/36) on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims – Experience from other European countries and current challenges in Germany
Structural Advancement concerning various Forms of Exploitation – Experiences from the Federal States of Hamburg and Baden-Wuerttemberg
Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons
The speech given by Maria Grazia Giammarinaro during the symposium can be downloaded here.
Which need for action has been identified in the GRETA recommendations? Members of the German Bundestag discuss the mid-term review of the coalition agreement
Christine Morgenstern, Head of the Department for Gender Equality, Federal Ministry for Families, Senior citizens, Women and Youths
Prof. Dr. Joachim Renzikowski, Chair for Criminal Law, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Klara Skrivankova, European Programme Co-ordinator, Anti-Slavery International, London
Evelyn Probst, Management Team Lefö IBF, Vienna
Helga Gayer, Deputy Head of Human Trafficking Division, Federal Criminal Police Office
Mechthild Maurer, Executive Director ECPAT Germany
Moderation: Ulrike Gatzke
By summarizing his recommendations for legal reforms of the German legislation concerning trafficking in human beings, Prof. Dr. Joachim Renzikowski introduced the audience and present panel guests to the first podium of the symposium. By offering critique on the current human trafficking laws, as well as by giving suggestions on how to comply with international legal standards, Prof. Renzikowski shared his long-standing expertise on the legal framework for prosecuting trafficking cases. He specifically presented suggestions on how to include regulations on additional forms of exploitation in the existing legislation.
The audience has furthermore been presented with the experiences of the police authorities in Germany and the difficulties the current legislation on human trafficking creates for prosecutors. Helga Gayer, representative of the German Federal Criminal Police Office, calls for an improved cooperation among relevant actors in order to be able to handle future tasks concerning additional forms of exploitation and labor trafficking. Following this, Mechthild Maurer (ECPAT Germany) provided insights in the particularities of the work with child victims of trafficking. Special attention needs to be paid to clarify responsibilities and roles, streamline relevant regulations and create supportive structure for male child victims and child victims with special needs. The podium event also featured contributions from Austria and the UK, both countries that already adapted to the legal requirements of the EU-Directive to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings. In order to create a cooperation mechanism for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in Austria, a nation-wide task force with three sub-committees on trafficking for sexual exploitation, for labor exploitation and child trafficking has been established. According to Evelyn Probst, representative of the Austrian association LEFÖ, the greatest challenges in Austria concern the implementation of the non-punishment clause for victims, as well as the establishment of appropriate protective measures for male victims. Klara Skrivankova, European Programme Co-ordinator with Anti-Slavery International, informed the audience about current developments in policies to combat Trafficking in Human Beings in the UK. Recently, all administrative areas have adapted legal reforms to conform to the EU-Directive. Due to successful training and awareness measures, cases of labor trafficking have received increased attention and hence, have been investigated and identified increasingly.
The subsequent panel discussion touched the issues of effective protective measures for victims and the subject of residence permits for victims of trafficking, as well as effective identification standards to recognize forms of exploitation at an early stage.
Katrin Kirstein, KOOFRA, Hamburg
Martina Felz, Division Victim Protection, Hamburg Authority of Social Affairs, Family and Integration
Wolfgang Herrmann, Director of the Catholic Academy of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart
Andrea Hitzke, Director Dortmunder Mitternachtsmission/ Member of the Board of KOK
Moderation: Ulrike Gatzke
Katrin Kirstein, representative of the counselling centre KOOFRA, gave an introductory presentation on a recently developed concept to integrate protective measures for victims of labor trafficking in the existent support structure in Hamburg. In order to guarantee both efficient procedures and a system that ensures the particular needs of all victims are considered, the responsible team has identified the main differences and similarities in the support for victims of trafficking for sexual and for labor expolitation to advance the work of the counseling centre.
As one of the present panel guests, Martina Felz spoke about the political background processes that have led to the assignment of KOOFRA to develop a concept for the support of victims of labor trafficking. The Federal State authority in Hamburg is coordinating all actions to combat human trafficking to ensure efficient processes and effective procedures. Apart from an existing cooperation agreement between KOOFRA and the counseling service for free movement of workers, Hamburg has now established a round table for combating trafficking for sexual and for labour exploitation with attendees from relevant actors like Finanzkontrolle Schwarzarbeit (FKS - financial control of illicit employment), customs authorites, job centers, employment agencies and KOOFRA. After this, the particular experiences of working with victims of labor trafficking and additional forms of exploitation in Dortmund have been pointed out by Andrea Hitzke, director of the counseling center Dortmunder Mitternachtsmission. Although official financial resources for the assistance of male victims of trafficking are scarce, the existing support network in Dortmund is trying to find alternative ways and is striving to bring these shortcomings to public attention. The situation for victims of labor trafficking in the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has been explained by Wolfgang Hermann, director of the Catholic Academy of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, a member organization of the network “Fair Work Migration”. In contrast to trafficking for sexual exploitation, there are no official action plans or regulations on the Federal State level to engage in the fight of labor trafficking. He specifically explains the need for action in the areas of institutionalized cooperation among relevant actors, the development of further specialized counseling centers and a general debate concerning working conditions and labor exploitation.
In the subsequent panel discussion the involvement of trade unions in the support for trafficked persons and people at risk has been discussed. In particular, the need for legal counseling and legal aid for victims of labor trafficking could be supplemented with the existing support structures of trade unions. In the context of policies on labor trafficking, the need for improved legal instruments, improved cooperation and pro-active work has been highlighted.
Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, CDU/CSU
Dr. Eva Högl, SPD
Martina Renner, Die LINKE
Moderation: Dr. Petra Follmar-Otto, German Institute for Human Rights
Helmut Sax presented a summary of the recommendations for the implementation of the Convention of the Council of Europe against Trafficking in Human Beings for Germany. The official report, on which the presentation was based on, can be downloaded here.
Following the summary of recommendations of the GRETA committee to advance the implementation of the Convention of the Council of Europe in Germany, the present members of the German parliament had the opportunity to present their opinions and political positions on this.
The representative of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) Elisabeth Winklermeier-Becker highlighted the planned and implemented legal actions that are related to the realization of the details of the coalition agreement. The current legal reforms of the human trafficking legislation, as well as the planned reforms on the legislation of prostitution and the passing of the laws on the retention of data have been pointed out. Martina Renner, member of the political party Die LINKE (the left), has especially acknowledged the need for a National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Germany and criticized the existing legal requirement for cooperation of victims to get a residence permit and with it obtain access to the support structure. She furthermore underlined the different quality of support structures on the Federal State level. Dr. Eva Högl (SPD/ German Social Democratic Party) informed the audience about the accomplishment of victims of trafficking being able to obtain general social services, as opposed to services for asylum seekers. Moreover, she explains the linkage between the lack of integration into the national labor market for victims of trafficking and migrants in general and the risk of further exploitation for certain groups.
The topic of the increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers entering the EU and Germany has framed the panel discussion. In this context, Martina Renner has called for secure routes for refugees and demanded state authorities to acknowledge their responsibility in the protection of refugees and victims of trafficking. The issue of child trafficking and related aspects has been stressed by Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker. At the close of the panel discussion, Dr. Eva Högl is urging the relevant state authorities to realize the importance of empowerment concepts for victims of trafficking as, according to her, an adequate framework for this aspect of the strategy to combat human trafficking is missing.