The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) released a new report on ‘The role of the European Union in the fight against child trafficking' on 7 July 2009. Many children fall victim to trafficking every year. There are extremely low numbers of convictions in child trafficking cases. Overall, the report finds that the EU must do more to address the issue.. The FRA calls for better legislation to combat child trafficking.
Every year a significant number of children fall victim to trafficking for sexual exploitation and other purposes. Child trafficking is an EU-wide problem, although there is insufficient data in this area to assess its true extent.
FRA Director Morten Kjaerum: "Human trafficking is part of the modern slave trade. Every year, a significant number of children in the EU fall victim to trafficking for sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, adoption and organ extraction. These are alarming signals. We must make every possible effort to protect and support these children".
According to official figures, the disappearance of children from shelters in the EU Member States is widespread, with their destinations largely unknown. It is well known that the children most likely fall into the hands of traffickers.
Often the victims of child trafficking are not correctly identified as victims. However, the identification of victims is crucial to prosecuting traffickers. Available figures indicate that there are very few convictions of traffickers in child trafficking cases. Convictions were recorded in only 4 Member States in the period 2000-2007. The FRA report identifies good practices regarding the identification of victims in Finland and in the Czech Republic.
"Although trafficked children are clearly victims, they are often treated as criminals. It is unacceptable that children who are victims of trafficking are criminalised and even detained", Morten Kjaerum added. In some Member States, victims of child trafficking face detention for border offences and other illegal acts such as prostitution.
For more information on the study and all country reports see the FRA's website. The study and the country report of Austria can also be downloaded here.