The European Union and the international Organization for Migrant : Trafficking in unaccompanied minors for sexual exploitation in the European Union, Bruxelles, IOM, 2002.
This European project aims at highlighting the scale of trafficking in unaccompanied minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labour and/or slavery and any other form of economic exploitation. The research for the Belgium, Germany, Italy and Netherlands studies was conducted and co-ordinated by IOM Brussels. The research on France, Greece and Spain was carried out and co-ordinated by IOM Paris, which also organized the International Conference on Trafficking in Unaccompanied Minors in the European Union held at the Institute of Advanced Studies on Policing and Public Safety (IHESI) in Paris in April 2002. This publication is the result of two projects funded by the European Commission.s STOP Programme in 2000/2001 and 2001/2002.
The main objective of this research was to evaluate the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors to traffickers, identify the practices and mechanisms of organised crime and define strategies to combat this phenomenon and assist its victims. In recent years, the European Union countries have witnessed a fresh upsurge in trafficking in women and children. Yet relatively little is known about the profile and living conditions of the victims.
Nevertheless, on the basis of recent reports and information provided by the public authorities and NGOs of the EU Member States in question, the studies presented here found that victims of trafficking are, in the vast majority of cases, either asylum seekers or irregular migrants. Unaccompanied minors make up a small percentage of the total population of adult migrants and asylum seekers, who they follow through to their final destination. This is one of the main reasons for studying trafficking from the point of view of irregular adult migration and the asylum-seeking process. This phenomenon is common to all the Member States in question despite differences from one country to the next.
The key findings of the studies are :
A lack of comprehensive data on trafficking in human beings ;
A definite increase in the number of minors trafficked for sexual exploitation despite the lack of accurate data ;
The exploitation of minors by traffickers in the informal sector ;
The disappearance of a large number of unaccompanied minors from réception centres.
Overall, the studies found that it is important to tackle the issues directly associated with the organised criminal networks to prevent and combat trafficking in unaccompanied minors. However, it is equally important to address the problem from the point of view of other ways of reducing the child.s vulnerability to these criminal networks, such as improving socioeconomic conditions in the countries of origin, and reception and protection measures in the countries of destination.
This project.s recommendations are intended mainly for those working on combating trafficking in human beings and those working with the minors in question. They cover a range of points, including a call to the EU Member States to agree on a common definition of unaccompanied minors and ensure that their needs and rights are fully recognised under the terms of the international conventions and directives, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The recommendations also highlight the need to collect and exchange reliable information, and also to improve the statistical databases by stepping up research and strengthening cooperation among the different stakeholders.
Furthermore, the proposals focus on prevention and assisting and protecting unaccompanied minors in both countries of origin and destination by : launching information campaigns, supporting pilot projects on groups at risk, improving reception facilities, providing suitable care, and granting minors who are victims of trafficking special temporary or permanent residence permits in the country of destination.
A full list of recommendations can be found at the end of this report.
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