On April 27th – 29th, officials and experts from Israel and the European Union conducted a special online TAIEX workshop on combatting human trafficking and on the impact of prostitution laws, marking an important cooperation between the EU Delegation to Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Justice.
The three-day workshop was attended by high-ranking Israeli Justice Ministry officials and representatives of NGOs, as well as by experts from Sweden and Ireland. The European experts presented the new EU Strategy on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings to their Israeli colleagues, as well as best practices from their home countries.
The online event was part of a series of TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange) activities in which Israel and the European Union are exchanging know-how and experience. Back in February 2017, a TAIEX Expert Mission on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings and impact of Prostitution Laws was key element in Israel’s definition and formulation of its own legislation. Israel’s Law for Prohibition of the Consumption of Prostitution Services entered into force on July 10, 2020.
This week’s workshop focused on ways to tackle human trafficking and effective ways to implement laws prohibiting the consumption of prostitution, including issues such as enforcement, prosecution and the role of civil society. The question of rehabilitation, including helping victims find employment, was one of the main topics discussed.
The TAIEX workshop took place merely one day after Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi signed the document by which Israel will formally join the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
“Israel is the very first non-EU state that is not a member of the Council of Europe to accede to the treaty – congratulations on this very significant step,” EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret said in his opening remarks.
“Israel has had great success in eradicating human trafficking for prostitution. This ugly phenomenon began in the 1990s but has since been almost entirely eliminated in its traditional form. This was achieved through the joint efforts of the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the Knesset, and NGOs,” Ambassador Giaufret said.
“Still, prostitution has and may always remain part of our societies. So it comes as no surprise that enforcement of any regulatory framework in that respect is full of challenges,” he added. “The EU understands the difficulty in addressing the issue. We are not preaching one approach as the only valid way to tackle this challenge. There is no right or wrong approach. But we are happy to share the experiences of EU member states that have adopted a framework similar to the one chosen by Israel.”
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