Taskforce trafficking: Austria’s fight against illegal exploitation

The violation of human rights and the ignoring of human dignity are completely normal in the world of trafficking. Political organisations such as the European Union are trying to combat exploitation on a national and international level. This is done by the enacting of new laws and regulations. Nonprofits such as Hope for the Future offer those that are affected by providing accommodation assistance, information and training to help victims into a better future. In individual countries some action plans to combat human trafficking also exist. In Austria this is the Taskforce Human Trafficking.

WORKING TOGETHER TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Human trafficking exists all over the world and also exists in Austria. Because of its central location in Europe, Austria is a popular transit and destination country. Despite almost all forms of trafficking being present in Austria the most prevalent forms are sexual exploitation, child trafficking as well as exploitative labour practices. Those affected are mostly from less wealthy European countries and third countries. They brought in via different methods and are lured into exploitation with false promises. 

In the fight against trafficking Austria uses a number of international legal frameworks to guide its actions. The UN additional protocol for the prevention, combating and punishing of human trafficking especiaially trafficking of women and children and the UN agreement of international organised crime but also the European agreement on combatting of trafficking form the legal basis for pursuing and prosecuting traffickers. The EU guidance on preventing and combating trafficking and protecting victims as well as the EU strategy to end trafficking help member states to improve protection for victims in their countries.

In Austria, the Human Trafficking Task Force was set up to develop national coordination, prevention, victim protection and criminal prosecution in the field of human trafficking. Founded in November 2004 by the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, the employees of the task force work together with non-governmental organizations and research institutions to develop strategies for combating human trafficking. The aim is to successfully suppress human trafficking in Austria by developing, implementing and monitoring the strategies and to offer victims the best possible support.

NINE FEDERAL STATES, ONE TASK FORCE

The task force for human trafficking is made up of federal ministries, government officials, the federal states and NGOs. Because of the membership from different areas and institutions, there will be a nationally harmonised planning and execution of the action plan. The help of non-governmental organizations is meant to develop more effective adaptation of the solution approaches to the needs of those affected. The fact unfortunately is that organisations like Herzwerk, Solwodi, Footprint or Hope for the Future are not involved in the measures that are taken. This is because these organisations are only consulted once a year at the last meeting before Christmas. It would be optimal if NGOs were more regularly consulted so that a more coordinated approach could be taken.

The task force human trafficking is devided into multiple working groups which have different focus areas such as child trafficking, prostitution or exploitative labour and they each develop policy for thier respective field. In addition to the creation and implementation of national action plans, the task force is also responsible for reporting to the federal government, parliament and the EU Commission. They also act as a point of contact for international organizations and governments. A report is drawn up and published at regular intervals to provide orientation and an overview of the activities carried out. Based on these reports decisions are made about the continuation of the respective working groups. If specific tasks and actions prove useful, the working group remains in the task force and continues to support Austria in the fight against human trafficking.

IN THE HANDS OF THE GOVERNMENT

The close cooperation of the task force with the federal states and the specialized non-governmental organizations as well as research institutions results in the development of different areas of expertise. On this basis the prosecution of human traffickers in Austria can be improved and strengthened. The fight against human trafficking is also guaranteed at the international level via close cooperation with foreign and transnational organizations. It comes down to the following: The success of the task force as well as the effectiveness of the action plans and measures developed therein, is largely determined by the funds made available from the government. The more money they receive for the fight against human trafficking, the more effective they can be.

Translated by Noah Deplazes

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