Wien, 15. October 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner and Ivanov: joining forces in the fight against trafficking in human beings

15.10.2003

"Finally putting an end to this dirty business"

Vienna 15 October 2003 - "Trafficking in women and girls is one of the most abject effects of globalisation and we must all refuse to give it our tacit approval," Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner emphasised at a joint press conference after today’s working meeting with her Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov. "I have spoken to the Russian Foreign Minister about my serious concern in view of the dramatic increase in trafficking in human beings. According to estimates by the EU Commission, about 120,000 people, above all women and children, fall victim to criminals trafficking in human beings every year. We finally have to make a concerted effort to put an end to this dirty business. Foreign Minister Ivanov has given me his word that he will support this effort." Ferrero-Waldner envisages a comprehensive joint approach by the target countries backed up by close cooperation with the source countries of the victims, which in her opinion is the only way of bringing this problem under control and preventing human suffering by early intervention.

The human rights issue was a further focus of today’s talks. "I have seized this opportunity to address the human rights issue and in particular the topic of human rights education, which is one of the focal points of Austrian foreign policy, with Foreign Minister Ivanov," Ferrero-Waldner stated, going on to point out that in this context she had expressly requested the Russian Foreign Minister to undertake every effort in his power to ensure that the human rights of the people of Chechenya are finally respected and violations punished.

"Human rights education is an indispensable tool to accompany and strengthen political developments towards democracy and an important basis for political participation," the Austrian Foreign Minister emphasised. "A manual on human rights education was drawn up within the framework of the Austrian chairmanship of the Human Security Network, and it was adopted at the Network’s ministers conference held in Graz in March 2003. A translation into Spanish and French has already been initiated, and recently I was also promised a Russian translation by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Foreign Minister Ivanov has expressed a keen interest in this manual."

The topic of the death penalty was also brought up. "In the European legal systems we have acknowledged that the death penalty is not an adequate deterrent. I would be happy if Russia could adopt this approach too," Ferrero-Waldner said.

The two foreign ministers furthermore talked about the developments within the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the consular visa requirement between EU Member States and Russia, as well as global political issues of topical interest.