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Consultations on Common Solutions to Combat Human Trafficking and Hate Crimes Are Taking Place in the United Kingdom

Date

2017 03 22

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On 20-22 March Chancellor of the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) Algirdas Stončaitis and delegation headed by him visit London, the United Kingdom (UK), where they participate in meetings to discuss bilateral cooperation in the fight against modern slavery and hate crimes.

In recent years, the UK remains a main country in which the greatest numbers of Lithuanians are sold and exploited.

"We have to take care of the Lithuanian citizens regardless of where they live – in Lithuania or not. Unfortunately, only in 2016, out of 51 victims of human trafficking 25 persons suffered namely in the UK - were sold for sexual exploitation, forced labor, criminal acts, forced marriages. And this is not a problem of only the UK law enforcement institutions,"- said Chancellor A. Stončaitis.

According to the data of the UK services, Lithuania is among the five countries citizens of which are most affected by modern slavery by the total number of victims. During the meetings, it was emphasized that these crimes can be combated only by complex measures, i.e,. developing comprehensive horizontal approach.

"Lithuania is making more and more efforts in order to systematically deal with the causes of these crimes – to ensure better prevention of the fight against trafficking in human beings, more efficient work with victims of crime and their protection. However, as the experience of the UK in the fight against modern slavery and preventive actions seeking to influence the situation shows, it is even impossible to identify the leaders of this process – this is the joint horizontal work and responsibility of government, non-governmental institutions and church. In the UK there is very strong volunteering and charity factor influencing the situation – unfortunately, Lithuania in this area still has something to aspire to,"- says Chancellor of the MoI.

During delegation’s meetings with the Lithuanian Embassy in the UK, representatives of the UK Home Office and Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland, it was agreed on preventive measures and assistance to citizens of our country who found themselves in slavery in the UK. Particular attention was focused on hate crimes.

During the visit, both the UK and Lithuanian embassy’s officials assured that Lithuanian citizens will be given all the assistance, if they dare to defend their rights and ask for help. Such persons will be provided with free accommodation, meals, their return to Lithuania will be organized.

The delegation, which also contains both the authorities of the Police Department under MoI and Chaplain of the Lithuanian Police A. Toliatas met with Santa Marta Group against human trafficking President Cardinal H. E. Vincent Nichols. During the meeting, Lithuania's efforts to develop Santa Marta Group initiative were presented.

"The Church can reach the most vulnerable groups of people. Therefore, the church and the police have to be strong partners in preventive efforts and working with victims of crime," - said Chaplain A. Toliatas during the meeting.

During the visit in the UK, the delegation also met with the representatives of London Lithuanian community and members of Peterborough Lithuanian community, as well as representatives of Peterborough municipality and police. It is agreed that the Lithuanian police officer will be sent to a month-long operation, working together with the Peterborough police officers.

"We hope to help better identify victims, to improve the exchange of information between police officers of Lithuania and the UK," - said Police Commissioner General L. Pernavas.