The United States supports the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
The United States supports the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s efforts to combat human trafficking, which continues to be a significant problem in the OSCE region. This year, the International Labor Organization released new estimates indicating that there are more than 3 million victims of human trafficking in the OSCE region at any given time, most of whom are women and girls. “This is untenable,” said Ambassador Avis Bohlen, head of the U.S. delegation to the OSCE’s annual human rights gathering, the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, in Warsaw.
Several OSCE participating States, including Sweden and the Czech Republic, have made strides toward anti-trafficking goals set out by the OSCE. However Azerbaijan and Russia, to point out two OSCE participating States cited by Ambassador Bohlen, according to the Ambassador “did not make sufficient efforts to fight human trafficking for either sexual or labor exploitation within their borders.”
In Bosnia, another OSCE state, the government conducted specialized anti-trafficking training of troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions; however the government did not demonstrate enough progress in its overall domestic anti-trafficking efforts. While local courts convicted some trafficking offenders, the Bosnian government’s investigation and prosecution efforts in 2011 where lacking. Bosnia as well as Moldova and Ukraine, along with several other OSCE countries, needs to find the will to hold public officials accountable for complicity in trafficking.
It is critical that traffickers be put behind bars for a significant period of time. The U.S. encourages countries throughout the OSCE region to investigate, prosecute, and sentence convicted traffickers to sentences commensurate with the serious nature of their crime.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has promoted new initiatives to combat human trafficking throughout the OSCE region — particularly in the areas of prevention and victim identification. At its most recent session, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution on Protecting Vulnerable Populations from Human Trafficking, calling on OSCE States to ensure that law enforcement officers are trained to recognize trafficking victims, particularly among vulnerable populations. The resolution also called for improved access to rehabilitative care and the establishment in major cities of special, Roma-oriented anti-trafficking task forces.
“It is important for us,” said Ambassador Bohlen in Warsaw, “to do everything we can to ensure limited government resources are strategically targeted at preventing the vulnerable from becoming or remaining victims.”