On 8-9 March, in Warsaw, Lithuania’s, Poland’s and the United Kingdom’s (UK) delegations headed by vice-ministers meet at the regional conference "Modern slavery", dedicated to the fight against human trafficking issues.
“In the twenty-first century, people still are bought, sold and exploited. In the pre-trial investigations initiated in Lithuania last year, almost half of all persons recognized as victims of human trafficking have been exploited in the UK, usually for forced labor and under conditions of slavery or similar to slavery. This meeting is an important step in strengthening cooperation with the United Kingdom, which is the main target state for human traffickers from Lithuania, Poland being a neighboring transit country", - noted the Vice-Minister of the Interior Česlovas Mulma attending the conference.
During bilateral meetings with the colleagues from Poland and the UK, Lithuanian representatives discussed coordination and strengthening of further joint actions in the fight against trafficking in human beings.
"Our goal – to make modern slavery simply not profitable for criminals to engage in it, but it can be achieved only by implementing joint particular measures. These measures should include appropriate support provided to victims of human trafficking, carrying out joint and coordinated preventive and criminal prosecution actions. Today, we have to take concrete steps to deepen public awareness of modern slavery’s extent, damage and dangers ", - spoke Vice-Minister Č. Mulma.
Mutual cooperation opportunities were discussed with the Lithuanian Ambassador to Poland Šarūnas Adomavičius, with particular emphasis on exchange of information consular officials have with law enforcement authorities of Lithuania. "Abilities of consular officials to identify victims of human trafficking and to provide assistance to them, including safe return to Lithuania, are particularly important," - said Vice-Minister.
During the bilateral meeting with representatives of the UK, the issue of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union and the fight against hate crimes were discussed. "The attacks against the citizens of other countries, including Lithuania, living in the UK, are alarming. We believe that the responsible services of the United Kingdom make every effort to prevent such attacks, and not a single case of attack would be tolerated, "- said Č. Mulma.
The planned visit of Lithuanian officers in the UK at the end of March of this year, during which meetings with representatives of appropriate services of the UK and the Lithuanian nationals living in the UK will take place, was discussed as well.
"The planned bilateral visit is another concrete step in strengthening cooperation. During the visit it will be agreed on concrete measures that our countries will jointly implement, "- noted the UK MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism Secretary of State Sarah Newton.
During the meeting with the Polish delegation, it was agreed to further specify cooperation activities while organizing and coordinating the fight against trafficking in human beings, taking over the best practices of Poland, organizing the work of different governmental bodies, non-governmental organizations and the church at the municipal level.
All parties agree that beside public institutions, non-governmental organizations, the role of the church is very important.
During the conference, workshop of experts from the three countries, among them 25 Lithuanian representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, police, border police, prosecutor's office, non-governmental organizations also is taking place.
This regional meeting held in Warsaw is continuous. Another meeting will assess the progress made.
According to the European Commission’s data, in 2013-2014, 15 846 women, men, girls and boys, victims of human trafficking in the European Union, were recorded. Whereas human trafficking is the latent crime, the actual number of victims of trafficking in human beings is much greater. In accordance with the ILO data, at any time in the world about 21 million people can be exploited, out of which about 19 million are exploited by individuals and business. Every year, criminal world receives more than 140 billion illicit revenue from exploitation of people.
Lithuania is a party to the most important international treaties providing for minimum standards of the fight against human trafficking.
In our country each year on average 40-50 pre-trial investigations into human trafficking are conducted, out of which 25 are the new ones. In 2016, 29 pre-trial investigations on human trafficking were initiated, in 2015 – 27, i. e. the average figure of recent years was exceeded.
In recent years, the majority of investigations initiated for human trafficking is not related to sexual exploitation. This trend has remained in 2016 – 22 pre-trial investigations were launched into human trafficking for forced criminal activities, forced labor and forced marriages, the majority of them - as many as 15 - were launched into human trafficking for forced criminal activities.