Vienna, 17 February 2014 - At an international anti-trafficking conference in Vienna (17-18 February), European officials are calling on governments to intensify the fight against modern-day slavery by taking specific steps to protect victims and prosecute the criminals who commit this crime.
"For all our economic and political advances, we have not managed to curb this new form of slavery," said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland at the opening of the conference. "It ruins the lives thousands of innocent people, most of them women and children; many victims are Roma, which represent Europe's largest minority."
The conference, organized under the Swiss Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Austrian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, is taking stock of work done by both organizations, including the work of the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).
Conference participants are assessing existing challenges and discussing possible solutions, including stronger partnerships with NGOs and private companies, increased training for law enforcement and more assistance and protection for trafficking victims.
"This conference is a milestone in joint awareness raising of the tragedy of trafficking in Europe," Secretary General Jagland said. "I am confident it will also be an important stepping stone on the way to better co-operation between all actors concerned."