Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings first expert meeting during the German Presidency opened by State Secretary Lilian Tschan

The Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings at the Council of the Baltic Sea States met in Berlin on 17-18 October 2022 for its first meeting during the German Presidency.

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and prevention of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation were on the agenda as the first expert meeting of the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB) of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) that was held in Berlin on 17-18 October 2022. 

The meeting was opened by Lilian Tschan, the State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, who expressed her support for the work and activities of the TF-THB. She particularly highlighted the importance of continuing the cooperation on tackling human trafficking in the Baltic Sea Region.

During the meeting, the representatives of the CBSS member states shared an update on their respective anti-trafficking responses on the Humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. 

To date, more than 2,7 million displaced Ukrainians have been registered in in the Baltic Sea region – majority in Poland and Germany. Some cases of human trafficking have been reported in the region, mainly on sexual and labour exploitation, and forced adoption. Overall, however, the number of cases has remained relatively low. 

“The immediate preventive measures taken by the TF-THB member states to foil the trafficking of displaced Ukrainians have been comprehensive,” said Edi Mujaj, the Senior Adviser for TF-THB at the CBSS. He added that it is important that the member states adopt a long-term approach and support the integration of Ukrainian displaced persons, and continue focusing on the prevention of possible exploitation, particularly online. “The TF-THB will continue to support the member states in their activities,” he said.

The efforts of the CBSS Member States in their anti-trafficking work on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and beyond also featured in the latest Baltic Sea Round-up report on trafficking in human beings, which was launched during the TF-THB meeting.

In addition to discussing Ukraine, the Member States exchanged best practices about their national action plans and how the issue of labour exploitation can be effectively tackled. The discussion was co-moderated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 

The discussion was preceded by the address of Helga Gayer, the President of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) who reminded the participants of the importance of a wider societal approach to prevent labour trafficking.

The CBSS Secretariat presented the ongoing TF-THB projects, such as the:

  • Developing of an awareness-raising campaign on labour exploitation which will target refugees and labour migrants in the Baltic Sea Region, in cooperation with the Swedish Gender Equality Agency (Jämställdhetsmyndigheten).
  • Drafting a summary consisting of main observations, conclusions and recommendations presented in the four reports of the CAPE project and creating a roadmap for the work against labour exploitation in the Baltic Sea region, in cooperation with the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) 
  • Evaluating and strengthening of the child protection-focus in the TF-THB Baltic Transnational Referral Mechanism, in cooperation with the Children at Risk unit at the CBSS.
  • Launching of the revised Handbook for diplomatic, consular and migration personnel on human trafficking, in cooperation with the Swedish Governments Ambassador at large against trafficking in persons at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the NGO Child10.
  • Developing a new project to continue the work with media and trafficking in human beings in the Baltic Sea region, initiated by the THALIA project.