The Smile of the Child
Member: NGO Premium
Voluntary Children's Association
10, Zinonos Eleatou Street, GR-151 24 Maroussi, Athens, Greece
“The Smile of the Child” contributed to the International Roundtable on Trafficking in Human Beings
“The Smile of the Child” contributed to the International Roundtable on Trafficking in Human Beings organized on 24 November in Vienna by the Regional Implementation Initiative on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking and Danube cities against Trafficking.
The aim of the event was to reflect on how cooperation and coordination in anti-trafficking can be strengthened through enhanced involvement of 'the local level’ - Cities and Municipalities - and showcase good practice examples of existing structures for further development. The event brought together local authorities NGO representatives from different countries (Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania and Russia), representatives of international organizations and the European Institutions, the academia, researchers, experts and practitioners, media professionals specialized in issues related to human trafficking.
Based on the experience of “The Smile of the Child” in the protection of children at risk, Marc Van den Reeck, Ambassador and Head of International Cooperation of the Organization contributed as a speaker to a panel debate that focused on concrete ways local authorities can contribute to the prevention of and fighting against trafficking and exploitation. Ambassador Marc Van den Reeck shared promising practices and examples from the work of the organization towards protecting children victims or potential victims of trafficking and exploitation in the midst of a severe socio-economic crisis and refugee crisis still unfolding in Greece.
In her opening remarks, Helga Konrad, Director of the Regional Implementation Initiative on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking and former Austrian Minister for Women’s issues and former Special OSCE Representative on Trafficking in Human Beings highlighted the fact despite the rich national and international legislation around trafficking deficiencies in the implementation of existing and available tools to prevent and tackle the phenomenon still persist.
The discussions among participants highlighted that trafficking in Europe is not a new phenomenon and is not to be simplified as a mere aspect of the refugee and migrant crisis. However, the recent refugee crisis has undoubtedly posed great risks for thousands of children and adults. Reports show that unaccompanied minors that cross the Balkan Route in search for a better future usually fall victims of sexual abuse, whereas many children have fallen victims of violence by border protection officers.
Other key issues that were particularly discussed were the need to consider trafficking in the context of protection of human rights, the importance of providing identity documents to children and other vulnerable groups of people, as lack of documents seriously reduces their safety. Particular emphasis was also put on the serious issue of child begging in cities and the proper sensitive role of law enforcement authorities and other competent actors.
The round table is part of Danube Cities against Human Trafficking (D-CAHT) and is organised by EUSDR Priority Area 10 "Institutional Capacity and Cooperation" in cooperation with the Human Rights Office of the City of Vienna and the Regional Implementation Initiative on prevention and combating Human Trafficking. The round table is financed by the Danube Transnational Programme/European Union and the City of Vienna.