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EU deal on tougher anti-trafficking rules
(Pic: Shutterstock)

24 Jan 2024 / human rights Print

EU deal on tougher anti-trafficking rules

The European Parliament and EU Council have reached a provisional agreement on new rules aimed at providing stronger protections against human trafficking.

The European Commission presented a proposal to update the current directive on trafficking in late 2022.

The parliament said that the informal agreement reached on Tuesday night (23 January) would expand the scope of the current directive to include forced marriage, illegal adoption, exploitation of surrogacy, and better support for victims.

Other measures in the agreement include:

  • Co-ordination of activities between anti-trafficking and asylum authorities,
  • Criminalising the use of services provided by a victim of a trafficking offence, where the user knows that the victim is exploited,
  • Penalties for companies convicted of trafficking,
  • Formal referral mechanisms will become mandatory in all member states, in an effort to improve early identification and referral for assistance and support for victims,
  • Ensuring that prosecutors can choose not to prosecute victims for criminal acts that they were coerced into committing,
  • Guaranteeing the rights of persons with disabilities, and
  • Allowing judges to consider the non-consensual spreading of sexual images or videos as an aggravating circumstance when handing out sentences.

‘Stronger tools’

Welcoming the deal, the commission said that the agreed rules would provide stronger tools for law-enforcement and judicial authorities to investigate and prosecute new forms of exploitation – including those that take place online.

MEPs involved in the negotiations also expressed satisfaction with the agreement.

“It strengthens the protection of victims of trafficking, with a special focus on the most vulnerable victims – including persons in need of international protection, women and girls, and children,” said Malin Björk (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee).

The directive must now be formally adopted by the parliament and council.

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