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Statement by Cecilia Malmström on the first World Day against Trafficking in Persons

EU News 328/2014

Brussels, 30 July 2014

"Trafficking in human beings is a gross violation of human rights and knows no borders. Unscrupulous criminals target women and men, girls and boys, and exploit them for abhorrent forms of exploitation: from sexual exploitation, to forced labour and forced criminality. It happens within the EU and affects us all.

The first World Day against Trafficking in Persons is an occasion to renew our commitment to work together for eradicating human trafficking. It is a day to reflect our personal and collective responsibility towards the victims. Our behaviour creates demand that fosters all forms of exploitation, and this must stop. We owe it to the victims.

We know that trafficking in human beings yields high profits to criminals, with estimations from International Labour Organisation of up to 111 billion of euros globally for forced labour, including human trafficking.

And unless we all feel personally responsible to ensure that we are not in any way involved or indirectly support such practices, we will never be able to eradicate this scourge to our society. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the goods we use every day could be products of slavery. We need to be more thoughtful about our lifestyle choices and consumer habits. I am proud to say the EU has come a long way, we have strong tools in our disposal, and we must make full use of them. Addressing trafficking in human beings must remain a political priority - in Europe and beyond our borders".

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