Dear participants, ladies and gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to congratulate you all who got together to
discuss a very acute problem relevant to the European Union as well as to thank
the hosts the Saeima of Latvia for professional and thoughtful organisation of
Slavery and trafficking in human beings as well as any serfdom as an
official policy and legal business have been abolished long ago; but even today
in the 21st century this appalling phenomenon is continuing to cause
headaches for organisations promoting democracy and human rights. After getting
rid of the totalitarian and authoritarian regimes violating human rights day by
day, East European states have been somewhat slow to understand that the free
world has merely a beautiful exterior. When the politicians were just
cautiously talking about the integration of the continent following the fall of
the Berlin Wall, the criminal world on both sides of this Wall was quick to
come to mutual understanding and swung into action. Wide economic gap between
the West and the East and unemployment emerging in newly liberated countries
have produced a favourable environment for shady business dealings, smuggling,
trafficking in human beings and other violations of human rights. Both West
Europe and its Eastern neighbours have underrated the potential scope of these
crimes; therefore, today we can enjoy the achievements, which are far from
Criminals are quicker to adapt to new challenges than states or public
institutions restrained by laws, lack of coordination, and an opportunity to
ensure the security for victims of trafficking and their close ones, and thus
to gain their trust. Therefore, it is inspiring that this Conference was quite
efficiently organised following the dramatic eastward expansion of the Schengen
area and the removal of the last roadblock between the old and new European
Union Member States.
no doubt that the expansion of the Schengen area is enthusiastically welcomed
by the traffickers in human beings as border controls have disappeared and
transportation risks have decreased. There is a logical conclusion that
internal and international cooperation among the institutions fighting against
this wrong must improve in its quality. For some time, this cooperation have
been downgraded by the insufficient alignment of the legislation between the
new EU Member States and Brussels as well as the humble experience of
international relations among law enforcement institutions.
things took a turn quite for the better. By implementing the decision of the
European Union of 19 July 2002 on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings,
Lithuania has amended the Criminal Code and gave the green light to a special
Programme for the Prevention and Control of Trafficking in Human Beings. The
latter has already produced positive results. The Police Department has
established a special unit to assist in investigations in human trafficking,
while the prosecution system, in this respect, has appointed prosecutors to
specialise in investigation, management and control matters. I would also like
to mention here the successful cooperation between the Lithuanian agencies and
English officers. Joint investigation groups have successfully performed pre-trial
investigations in trafficking women into prostitution to England, while the
court proceedings in both countries resulted in a guilty verdict for the
recruiters and perpetrators. Similar cooperation was carried out with Germany,
Benelux, neighbouring Latvia and other countries.
statistics show reduction in human trafficking in Lithuania, which is the
result of the prevention measures jointly taken by the state and NGOs as well
as the cases successfully decided by law enforcement bodies (the police and
prosecutor’s office). The pronounced sentences has met with a broad response
and came as a blow to the reputation of various “beauty” firms engaged in
trafficking girls for the rich Gulf Arabs as well. Prevention and criminal
prosecution will be effective only when operated in tandem.
Our country is regarded as an export and transit country for human
trafficking, thus, our hunts focus on the West. Now, when Lithuania starts
facing the lack of labour force and receives more labour immigrants, our state
is likely to turn into a country of import for the non-Schengen area. This
should also be seen as a concern by the other EU states of the new wave of
Similarly, we deal with the domestic “village-to-city” problem, when
girls from towns and villages come to the city to try their fortune making
themselves easy prey for swindlers.
Usually, in efforts against trafficking in human beings, the emphasis is
laid on the cooperation between export and import countries, relatively,
between Eastern and Western law enforcement. In practice, however, most of the
buyers and exploiters of “white female slaves” in Great Britain, Germany and
other countries are not criminals, who are residents of the country, but rather
legal and illegal immigrants from within and outside the new Schengen area.
Therefore, cooperation should also be improved essentially among the countries
of Central Europe, since their institutions most probably possess information
on the criminal structures of their citizens abroad.
In a nutshell, I have read some of the conference reports and learnt
about the experience of the Latvian colleagues and all the material will be
studied thoroughly at home to be used at work. In principle, I agree with the
final draft document. I believe our meeting will bear fruit and contribute to a
better protection of human rights through international efforts.
Thank you for your attention.