President Sakellaropoulou: Human trafficking exists because people tolerate it

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President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Thursday said that the phenomenon of human trafficking exists not only because it is objectively hard to quell, but also because it is the product of social inequalities, prejudices and people’s tolerance to it.

She was speaking on occasion of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, during a meeting of the parliament’s Standing Committees on Social Affairs and Public Administration, Public Order & Justice, and the Subcommittee for Combating Human Trafficking and Exploitation.

There should also be zero tolerance for the demand for products and services provided by victims of exploitation, the president noted, and underlined that more policies are needed to promote multiple synergies in public administration, local government, private initiatives and civil society.

The economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic are exacerbating inequalities and creating recessionary conditions, leading to an increase in human trafficking, Sakellaropoulou said, and noted that the rapid increase in migration and refugee flows brings even more vulnerable people to Greece, making it difficult to distinguish between victims of long-term trafficking and those of short-term smuggling.

Sakellaropoulou cited international organizations data saying there are currently 27 million modern slaves in the world, yet only a small number of traffickers are prosecuted and convicted and few victims are rescued by authorities. This is the reason, she noted, that combating the “culture of no punishment” is a strategic goal of the European Commission.

Finally, the president said that Greece’s national legal framework for fighting human trafficking is fully harmonized with the relevant international and European conventions and directives. Moreover, Greece set up the Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings (NRO) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and “fully cooperates with all European institutions, international organizations and services that specialize in dealing with the issue,” she added.

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