Tag Archives: traffic

Europol strikes traffic of minors

Europol supported a pan-European operation against trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation, forced begging and labour exploitation. The operation, led by the United Kingdom, involved law enforcement authorities from 15 EU member states, Iceland and Switzerland*Between 17 and 23 June 2019, over 127 000 individuals, 63 800 vehicles and 1 100 locations were checked. Law enforcement authorities searched private properties, commercial establishments, hotels, buses and train stations, ferry ports, airports and border crossings.

Prevention campaigns in schools to inform minors of the risks of human trafficking were also part of the operational activities. The overall results include 34 arrests for trafficking of human beings and 36 arrests for other offences such as robbery, dissemination of child sexual exploitation material and facilitation of illegal immigration. During the action days, 206 potential victims were identified, 53 of which were confirmed to be minors. These activities enabled the initiation of 31 new cases of human trafficking across the different participating countries.  

During the operation, experts in trafficking of human beings from law enforcement agencies, child protection officers, social workers, representatives of municipalities and non-governmental organisations joined efforts to identify potential victims and investigate cases of child trafficking. Europol facilitated the information exchange between the participating countries and analysed operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators. 

 *The following countries participated to the Joint Action Days: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Google and eBay aim to defeat wildlife traffic

Leading websites Google and eBay are fighting the sale of rare creatures and their body parts over the internet in an illicit market worth millions of pounds. Illicit wildlife trade is the fourth largest black market in the world, worth $20 billion annually, impacting more than 7,000 species of animals and plants.

A recent investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare discovered online ads for ivory, rhino horn, live big cats, orangutans and gorillas as well as the skins from tigers, lions, cheetahs and leopards. Parrots, owls and birds of prey are also being sold in high numbers along with turtles and tortoises.

Nowadays the fight against using cyber technologies for profits of illegal wildlife is bringing together government bodies, conservation campaigning organisations and the major internet names in increased efforts to stop to systemic damages to spices.

The leading players of the among IT companies expressed their confidence that the way e-commerce, technology and social media companies are working together will end the global criminal network.

 

EU laudits Spain for reception of migrant vessel

The EU Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos welcomed the decision of Spanish government to accept the vessel #Aquarius with 629 migrants on board transported from Libyan coasts to Italy.  The Italian and Maltese governments repelled #Aquarius, belonging to NGO, which is notorious for exercising the transportation of illegal African migrants to Europe, abusing maritime law of saving lives in seas, and is often dabbed as ‘migrant taxi service‘. Both EU member states – Italy and Malta – have been overwhelmed with migrants flows after the destruction of Libyan state, and have exhausted their capacity of offering shelter. The Spanish Socialist government, profiling itself as Eurocentric, came to rescue of the EU reputation in a gesture of solidarity to relieve the burden from Italy and Malta.

Meanwhile the new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini declared his victory over the EU, imposing respect of the international obligations towards the refugees, but unable to resolve the issue of illegal migrants flooding Italy. The Dublin system application hits hard the Mediterranean members of the bloc, namely Italy,  in vain calling for the EU solidarity in relocation of migrants.

“I am not a racist, I am not a fascist…but Italy cannot take it anymore. This is a new beginning – Salvini said at his press-conference, commenting on an international raw after the  repelling of #Aquarius from Italian coasts. Maltese Prime minister Joseph Muscat thanked Madrid for resolving the problem, however he underlined that a discussion is needed to avoid the repetition of the similar situations in the future.

During the stand off between Italy and Malta both rejecting #Aquarius,  there were reports from MSF about the migrants on the board becoming ‘anxious’ about the impossibility to reach Italian coasts. A man blackmailed the crew to drown himself in the sea, if the vessel returns to Libya. Sadly, many of the illegal migrants  arriving to Europe refer to the phenomenon as ‘migrant business‘, while experts confirm that nowadays in Africa ‘you are never further than two conversations away from a trafficker, ready to bring you to European coasts’.

Africa migrant map

 

Europol tracks wildlife crime

 

Europol Director Rob Wainwright met with Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC, at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague today to discuss further cooperation in fighting environmental crime, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two parties in 2016.

The scope of the MoU is to facilitate the exchange of information and support, as well as to improve coordination between the two organisations to fight environmental crime, particularly the illegal trafficking of endangered animal and plant species.

“Europol is pleased to extend its partnerships in this area as a means by which to help protect the environment and our economies. Countering environmental crime also supports broader efforts to combat other crimes such as corruption, money laundering, counterfeiting, fraud, forgery, and sometimes even terrorism or drugs trafficking,” – Europol Director Rob Wainwright highlighted.

“Wildlife trafficking is a global issue that must be addressed through international collaborations: TRAFFIC looks forward to supporting Europol to fulfil its challenging role in addressing wildlife crime through providing strategic assessments and operational support to EU Member States”,- said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.

Environmental crimes represent a highly lucrative business, especially for organised crime groups, as these offences are harder to detect and sanctions are lower in comparison with other crime areas. The transnational nature of environmental crimes has led to the need for enhanced cooperation between law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organisations, making strategic agreements crucial in the fight against the trafficking of endangered animal and plant species.

In addition, the EU is a key transit point for illegal trade in wildlife, notably between Africa and Asia. Given TRAFFIC’s presence on five continents, the MoU enables Europol to reinforce its position in dealing with this emerging threat.

This initiative is also in line with the EU Action Plan aimed at combating wildefaire trafficing  in which Europol plays an important part.

Migrant's missing children

Young migrants make soap bubbles in a muddy field at a camp of makeshift shelters called the Grande Synthe jungle, near Calais

The ‘deep concern’ about the growing numbers of child refugees and about the situation of unaccompanied, missing or separated children is expressed in European Parliament Annual Report on human rights and democracy  in the world (2015), presented by Josef WEIDENHOLZER (S&D,AT).
Urging the Member States to make it an absolute priority swiftly to reunite unaccompanied minors with family members, the report also  stresses the need of providing children with access to health care and education as part of EU programmes to address the root causes of migration.
MEP Weidenholzer calls on states to end the detention of children, as well as to take into account the best interest of the child in all procedures and ensure protection for children according to international law.
A special focus is on protection of refugee and migrant children from violence, exploitation and abuse.

Reported by Europol there is a tremendous amount of crossover between smugglers smuggling refugees across borders and gangs ensnaring people for forced sexual and labour exploitation.

According to the Europal sources the prime vicitms of the exploitation by criminal gangs are unaccompanied childern and young women. Unfortunately the unaccompanied migrant children disappearance is mainly underreported. For many of these children, the journey into exploitation and suffering does not end once they arrive on EU shores.

Europol underlines that there is a “tremendous amount of crossover” between smugglers smuggling refugees across borders and gangs ensnaring people for forced sexual and labour exploitation.

Actual figures on anaccompanied migrant/refugee child situation in Europe is depressing: according to various sources half of them by arriving to Europe went missing, according to different estimates there are between nine and 13 thousands missing migrant children in the EU.