Vienna, 17 October 2008 - "Human trafficking constitutes a severe violation of human dignity and human rights. Women and children are most affected by this type of exploitation and abuse," stated envoy Dr. Johann Brieger, Chairman of the `Human Trafficking Task Force´, to mark the EU Day against Human Trafficking, which is being observed on 18 October for the second time. Some 2.4 million people become victims of human trafficking every year. Human trafficking is increasingly developing into one of the most profitable forms of organised crime. Using human beings as a commodity, criminal networks generate a profit of 32 billion dollars per year.
"No country is safe from human trafficking. Austria is affected as a transit country and as a destination due to its location at the very centre of Europe," emphasised Brieger. Austria therefore participates intensively in the fight against this crime. In combating human trafficking, the Austrian approach comprises national coordination, prevention, the protection of victims, prosecution and international cooperation. In addition to ratifying all relevant international treaties, Austria established the `Human Trafficking Task Force´ in 2004 under the chairmanship of the Foreign Ministry. Its tasks encompass the coordination of Austrian activities, the provision of information on relevant projects, the early recognition of trends and the strengthening of cooperation between all participating actors. In March 2008 the Ministerial Council adopted a `National Action Plan against Human Trafficking´ to improve the fight against human trafficking at the national level.
"But it is also imperative that preventive action be taken in over 100 at-risk countries. All Austrian diplomatic missions abroad have been called upon to take pro-active measures against human trafficking," stated Chairman Brieger. Austrian Development Cooperation programmes have also made an important contribution to fighting human trafficking in the country of origin. Numerous Austrian Development Cooperation projects, for instance, are devoted to promoting the rights of victims of human trafficking.
The Human Trafficking Task Force particularly focuses its activities on the protection of children. At the national conference entitled `Children are not commodities - concerted action against the sexual exploitation of children´ held at the beginning of October at the Diplomatic Academy, participants discussed measures and models for solutions to safeguard the protection of children. According to Brieger, the Ministry for European and International Affairs is also coordinating Austria´s domestic preparatory work for the third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation, which will take place in November 2008 in Rio de Janeiro.
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