The Task Force against Human Trafficking has been mentioned several times in our blog posts. This year, the new working paper was also published. These publications are valid for three years and aim to create transparency and recommend measures which can also be monitored. 

In 2011, the EU adopted Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, which Austria has implemented. Additionally, the EU has its own strategy for eradicating human trafficking (2021-2025). 

However, for 20 years now – since 2004 – a Task Force of the Austrian Federal Government has been coordinating and intensifying measures against human trafficking. The Task Force includes federal ministries, federal states, social partners, and NGOs. Ambassador Dr. Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger was the first National Coordinator from 2009-2017, followed by Ambassador DDr. Petra Schneebauer from 2018 onwards. Since September 2023, Dr. Georg Stillfried has been in office. The agendas are located within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The Task Force develops and monitors national action plans against human trafficking. This year, the current “National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAP) 2024-2027” was published. In one of the recent blog posts, we closely examined a working paper that highlights, among other things, how Austria’s federal system affects the safety of people in prostitution. 

The Task Force reports to the Federal Government and Parliament every three years on the implementation of the action plans. Annual reports on the NAP implementation are also created. Upon request, some points were examined in more detail. 

In the action plans, which are valid for three years, points are set that, amongst other things aim to improve oversight. This paper is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

An example is point 1.8, which calls for the appointment of coordinators in the federal states. Upon inquiry, it was stated that no comprehensive overview is planned so far. However, the suggestion was positively received, as an official overview would increase transparency and allow for a quick determination of who is responsible for which areas in each federal state. Such a list would also be helpful to better monitor activities in the individual federal states and keep track of the respective responsibilities. 

Point 2.1 mentions the annual Vienna Conference against Human Trafficking. This will take place in mid-October 2024 and will address the issue of “human trafficking” from a “private” perspective. The event is planned to be held at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna and will take place both on-site and online. This is what is known so far. 

Another interesting point is mentioned under 3.5. This concerns the creation of informational materials in native languages. Unfortunately, there is no unified list or archive yet of which brochures are planned or already available. These are created, for example, by the Ministry of the Interior and, upon request, by the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs (Women’s Affairs). Victim protection organisations such as LEFÖ or MEN VIA are contact points where current informational material can also be requested. 

In addition to the annual Vienna Conference against Human Trafficking, a conference at the federal state level is also being considered. According to a telephone consultation, it is planned that “practitioners” will exchange ideas at the federal level to strengthen direct exchange. 

Apart from this “internal” meeting, the tenth anniversary celebration of MEN VIA took place on April 18, 2024. The victim protection organisation “MEN VIA” aims to provide support, security, and personal empowerment to men affected by human trafficking in Austria. MEN VIA’s victim protection work thus contributes to gender-oriented men’s work and the promotion of positive, partnership-based, and non-toxic masculinity. 

It was refreshing that a representative in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the time to discuss the individual points immediately. Working papers like this must be given attention and consideration to ensure they do not remain mere lifeless pieces of paper. 

Translated by Anna Mae Smith

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