First, the findings for the two human rights organizations are reported, followed by the findings for the EP. The actor’s narratives are summarized with an emphasis on the context where trafficking is discussed and on the framing of trafficking and possible connected issues.
6.1. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International (Amnesty) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have both extensively reported on human trafficking in many documents that their organizations produce. The main finding of this study is that human trafficking is not discussed as an isolated issue, but it is connected to many other serious social problems such as rape, labor violations, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, prostitution, blackmail, governmental corruption, ill treatment or abuse and murder. Women and children were the most commonly reported victims of trafficking networks as they are frequently exploited as workers and sexual slaves. Moreover, some of the documents emphasized that people are increasingly trafficked for the illegal global organ trade, and children especially are kidnapped or coerced into being used as soldiers. Therefore, the topic of human trafficking does not stand alone in the reports of the NGOs but is discussed in the wider context of various other human rights violations; it is consequently framed so that it is closely connected with these other serious crimes. Various types of framing which are discussed in the human rights literature are found in these documents [21
]. In the sample derived from the documents of HRW and Amnesty, Amnesty in particular used a strategy called “framing of responsibility.” This is a framing strategy that draws attention to the root causes of trafficking: global poverty, gender inequality, and the lack of political will to resolve this human rights issue. Furthermore, the NGO points out that human trafficking is often closely linked with government and security officials, as well as with policy-making practices.
According to the NGO’s reports, people who become trafficking victims are individuals who usually have lived in poverty, and may have experienced a violent home life that generated distress. For people who are living in these conditions, the idea that they could make a lucrative living abroad gives them hope that their quality of life will improve. Instead these people are being sold as slaves who work in horrendous conditions with little or no pay. The profit from their work is taken by the traffickers and subsequently their potential earnings and the good jobs that they were promised in other countries turn out to be empty promises. In the documents on human trafficking, both Amnesty and HRW bandwagon various forms of exploitation that domestic migrant workers in particular face worldwide. These issues include excessive working hours, forced labor, non-payment of wages and forced debts, involuntary confinement, physical and sexual abuse, and trafficking: “Migrant workers faced exploitation by recruiters who exposed them to human trafficking and forced labour” [65
]. In the documents, HRW and Amnesty report that trafficking begins in situations where migration is an attractive option for people who, due to poverty and violence in the home country, seek a better life or money to support their family back home. Before leaving for their new destination, immigrants are commonly required to sign documents such as employment contracts, though the immigrants often do not receive any copies of the signed documents. Upon arrival in the receiving country, the migrant laborersʼ passports are taken away and their movements are monitored and restricted by the traffickers. Amnesty’s documents report that migrant laborers are deceived about their terms and conditions of work, including their rate of wages and their entitlement to rest days or holidays. Many migrant laborers end up as “trafficked” due to the fact that they often take out loans of money from the “employment agencies” so that they can travel to work in another country. Due to the low wages that they earn, they are unable to pay back their debts and end up living in debt cycles beholden to the employment agencies. Often, migrant workers have to give most of their salaries to their recruiters to work off their debt, causing them additional poverty, debts and subsequent reliance on both the work they are given and the agency, which causes additional human rights violations. The NGOs argue that local and regional officials often disregard these abuses and allow the exploitation of these workers to continue. This illustrates how this serious social problem is interrelated with global poverty and continued financial dependency. The root causes for trafficking, such as poverty and illegal immigration, are problems that are often not addressed in the workers’ countries of origin.
According to the NGOs, recruiters and employment agencies are part of trafficking networks that cooperate or have ties to state and security officials that allow, facilitate, and profit from human trafficking. In one document, HRW claims that governmental officials in Eritrea are directly taking part in human trafficking. Military officers charge US$3000 per person to arrange for their escape from the country, whereas smugglers associated with the military forces demand additional ransom fees of up to US$20,000 to release the escapees for their onward journey. HRW claims that the ransom is then sent to the Eritrean embassy staff in Cairo, and the money from smuggling and ransom fees is deposited into a Swiss Bank account. HRW claims that these substantial profits may actually lure government officials into taking part in human trafficking. In numerous documents from Amnesty and HRW, they report that state officials have been aware of or have taken part in trafficking and labor exploitation networks in Cambodia, Jordan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Uzbekistan, as well as between countries in South and North America. According to many of the HRW and Amnesty documents, human trafficking is controlled by competing drug cartels receiving protection from political proxies and expand their criminal activities in drug trafficking to include human trafficking. Amnesty has numerous documented cases where people are trafficked to the USA to work as sexual slaves. Sexual slavery includes forced sex work in the commercial sex industry, street prostitution, and work in massage parlors and brothels. Other forms of slavery include domestic service work, agricultural labor, construction work, hotel services, manufacturing and healthcare jobs. In some documents, HRW points out that victims of human trafficking are held in immigration detention centers in the USA. Due to their fear of deportation, migrant workers are often afraid to report these crimes to the police.
According to both NGOs, poverty clearly plays an important role in the exploitation and trafficking of humans globally, but it is not the only factor in play. Human trafficking is closely connected to other forms of exploitation and ill treatment, such as gender violence, which stems from stereotyped gender roles, and child labor, as evidenced in the documents. Amnesty reports that in Chad, “some of the girls are pushed by their parents to go and look for jobs in the cities and towns, while others are ‘sold’ by their parents to individuals known to their families or even to strangers” [66
]. Similarly, HRW reports that in Mali in the mining industry, children are trafficked and exploited extensively. Some children come from neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso and Guinea. HRW claims that child labor is common in Mali and other parts of West Africa, since, owing to extreme poverty, child labor is a common strategy for families to make money, while they are simultaneously exposing children to abuse and denying them the right to an education. HRW points out that although the Malian government has taken steps to handle human trafficking and child abuse, the ability of the government to tackle and prevent these violations is limited. Human trafficking is thus described in the documents as a chain of interlinked events that includes brokers, agencies, and state officials.
Amnesty reports that in Afghanistan women and girls suffer from a wide range of violations, such as being traded to settle disputes, gender discrimination, domestic violence, forced marriages and trafficking. In a similar manner, HRW explains in its documents that the trafficking of women and girls from Iraq for sexual exploitation is widespread, while militias and religious and government institutions that take part in the various forms of exploitation promote misogynist ideologies. In one document, Amnesty recounts one woman’s narrative. The woman was trafficked, spent months in captivity in a brothel, and was later refused the right to have an abortion in Argentina. A similar trend is found in Nepal. HRW’s documents tell us how, even though they have legal rights on paper, women and girls still face widespread discrimination. Trafficking, domestic violence, dowry-related violence, rape, and sexual assault are serious problems not followed up by effective police investigations.
HRW also reports that when tackling the ongoing problem of helping the victims of human trafficking, well-meaning governmental authorities often use ineffective methods of support. HRW mentions that victims did not know about the hotlines that were set up by a labor ministry, and that usually the hotlines did not work, or that there were no qualified interpreters available to help them understand what their rights were. Amnesty claims that in Sierra Leone, for instance, victim support systems are not guaranteed by the law, thus only NGOs organize support for victims of trafficking, and sexual and gender-based violence. Both HRW and Amnesty report that a police crackdown on human trafficking usually consists of closing down brothels and randomly detaining sex workers instead of actually prosecuting the traffickers. HRW mentions that a department that was supposed to be fighting human trafficking in the Ukraine was actually exploiting women who were working as sex workers on the highways of Ukraine. Moreover, for government officials, the line between lawfully employed migrant laborers and trafficked people is not always clear. Amnesty reports that victims of trafficking and torture have been detained in Denmark and the Netherlands, as they are considered illegal immigrants. Both Amnesty and HRW emphasize the fact that trafficked people often are not recognized as victims. For example, in Finland, victims of prostitution-related trafficking are treated as witnesses, and thus denied victim assistance and support benefits, and they usually face deportation. Other examples of the denial of assistance for victims was documented by HRW, claiming that victims of trafficking make their way to e.g
., Cairo and then gain access to some victim services. However, the Egyptian government refused the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to the refugees, and asylum seekers and migrants were intercepted and detained in Sinai. Egyptian officials asserted that they were economic migrants and Egypt therefore had no obligation to give the UNHCR officials an opportunity to speak to them. These same officials have also ignored the horrific abuses committed against asylum seekers and migrant laborers in Sinai. Similarly, both Amnesty and HRW describe how human trafficking is a widespread problem in the Mediterranean region. Since joining the EU, Cyprus has become a destination for migrant laborers and for the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. Additionally, Amnesty reports that several European countries, such as Malta and Italy, have refused to allow private vessels, e.g
., fishing boats, carrying traumatized migrants and refugees from international waters to enter their territory “until there is a political agreement on where they can go”. Moreover, the “desire of some European countries to prevent ‘irregular migration’ is undermining safe and timely rescues at sea” [67
]. HRW also noted that the Mediterranean region is a heavily trafficked area, as is the Sahel region. Some Mediterranean countries, such as Italy and Greece, do not have adequate systems to screen and aid victims of trafficking. According to HRW, migrant laborers who were travelling to Italy in non-seaworthy vessels were returned to Libya. None of the refugees were consulted by officials, rendering sick, injured or pregnant persons, in addition to unaccompanied children and victims of trafficking unprotected and without refuge. HRW is concerned that most of the unaccompanied children brought to Greece as migrant laborers often end up living on the streets. These children are at risk of being trafficked as they are vulnerable populations likely to be subjected to labor exploitation, prostitution and drug trafficking. HRW reported that in 2011 the UN special rapporteur called the conditions of Greece’s immigration detention facilities inhumane and degrading. Ineffective or corrupt governmental officials, gender-based violence, and extreme poverty are root causes of human trafficking. In some countries, these issues are exacerbated by a lack of border security and power struggles between vying elites or militias. HRW and Amnesty documents are heavily focused on the human rights situation and widespread trafficking of mostly sub-Saharan migrant workers and asylum seekers in the Sahel and Sinai areas. Amnesty claims that “there is an extensive network of people-traffickers throughout Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and Israel. The traffickers are both well-equipped and well-armed. Hostages are sold between groups at country borders. Ransom money is extorted from relatives or communities and is reportedly often paid in Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Asmara, and can reportedly run into thousands of US dollars” [68
]. The hostages are tortured, sexually assaulted, and raped in order to coerce their relatives to pay their ransom fees. In one document, Amnesty mentions that “foreign nationals have reportedly been held, tortured, including raped, and murdered by people-traffickers, while the authorities have done little to protect them” [68
]. Similarly, HRW states that due to an absence of law enforcement, “thousands of sub-Saharan asylum seekers and migrants attempting to cross the Sinai have fallen victim to abusive traffickers and other criminals” [69
]. Traffickers imprison victims and then demand a ransom from their families. According to HRW, those who cannot pay for their ransom are forced to pay the debt back to their captors by working. HRW estimates that that the traffickers’ demands for money has risen from US$2500 US$30,000 USD per person between the years 2009 and 2012. HRW reports that while victims are on the phone pleading with their relatives at home or abroad to pay their ransom, the traffickers often torture and beat them. Thus, the torture of African asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers has increased since 2010. In one document, HRW substantiates reports about traffickers torturing and abusing people. In one witness’s testimony, she reported that up to 100 trafficked people at a time were taken into “stores” where large numbers of Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese victims were kept: “They were chained at the feet and tied or chained at the wrists. Access to food and water was inadequate and beatings were frequent” [69
]. NGOs report that women were raped and sexually abused, traffickers groped them and penetrated them with their fingers, and some had burns on their breasts and genitalia. Some victims were beaten on their hands, and on the soles of their feet and backs with metal rods. They were also blindfolded and chained, burned with cigarettes or by molten plastic from water bottles, kicked and punched. Men and women also were sexually assaulted by being stripped and plastic piping inserted into their anuses or vaginas. Amnesty reported that they have learned of the same human rights violations and extortion methods, adding that trafficked people are “being subjected to electrical shocks, deprived of water for extended periods of time, and tied to trees for extended periods in desert heat” [68
In addition to torture and extreme sexual violence, Amnesty adds that traffickers forcibly remove organs surgically from victims and sell these harvested organs on the black market, while the victims most commonly die, either during or after the surgery. By discussing this issue, Amnesty draws attention to another context of human trafficking by connecting it to the organ transplant tourism industry. Moreover, Amnesty states that organ trafficking with transplant tourism violates the principles of equity, justice, and respect for human dignity. “Because transplant commercialism targets impoverished and otherwise vulnerable donors, it leads inexorably to inequity and injustice and should be prohibited” [70
]. Amnesty calls for states to prevent organ trafficking, framing once again state responsibility.
The various examples of narratives that have been selected from the NGOs’ documents illustrate how deeply rooted social practices and prejudices can contribute or even lead to human trafficking. These narratives also show that human trafficking must be understood within a broader global context and that several human rights issues are interwoven into the NGOs’ documents. Both Amnesty’s and HRW’s documents illustrate that in addition to global poverty, gendered violence, insecure borders, and the poor functioning of juridical systems exacerbates these human rights violations. Thus, in order to tackle the problem of human trafficking, the root causes of why people are seeking work has to be addressed within the context of the various, political, social, economic, legal, and cultural environments in which they live.
6.2. European Parliament
In this section, the results from the analysis of the European Parliament documents on human trafficking are presented. There are not many documents of the EP that discuss human trafficking in our research sample; however, when the EP did address this issue, it was covered extensively. Many actors were consulted and human trafficking was discussed in the context of several other social issues.
Each document in our study addressed several topics and they are recorded on each document. (The eight-digit code number functions as a reference. The documents can be found online at the Legal Observatory website of the EP.) There are altogether 33 different topics or subject areas found in the 22 documents that comprise our sample. These subject areas present various aspects of the EPʼs decision-making process and provide a preliminary view of how the EP creates the political context in which decision making takes place.
The most frequently cited subject areas of the EP are: (1) Women’s condition and rights; (2) Gender equality; (3) Work, employment, wages, and salaries: equal opportunities for women and men, and for all; (4) Fundamental freedoms, human rights, democracy in general; (5) Bilateral economic and trade agreements and relations; (6) Emergency, food, humanitarian aid, aid to refugees; and (7) Candidate countries.
According to the frequency that the subject areas are cited, human trafficking is strongly connected to gender equality and womenʼs rights, equal opportunities between the sexes, fundamental rights and freedoms, and general concepts about democracy. Moreover, economic and trade relations, humanitarian and aid issues, and the enlargement of the EU are all connected to social problems that facilitate the development of human trafficking rings. After scrutinizing the content of these documents, a more comprehensive picture of the social context in which human trafficking arises can be found.
The documents of the EP address the problem of human trafficking by describing it as an issue that effects the world community as it is related to gender-based violence and to the economic or labor market situation in the world today. Gender-based violence is defined by the EP as “a form of discrimination and a violation of the fundamental freedoms of the victim and includes violence in close relationships, sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment), trafficking in human beings, slavery, and different forms of harmful practices, such as forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour crimes’” [71
]. With respect to the economic or labor market situation, the EP argues that “male violence against women shapes womenʼs place in society: their health, access to employment and education, integration into social and cultural activities, economic independence, participation in public and political life and decision-making, and relations with men” [72
]. The EP states that “Victims of human trafficking are mostly women and girls” [73
] and they are treated as modern commodities to be sold and re-sold, thereby directly affecting the equality between women and men in society. Human trafficking is a lucrative business run by organized crime syndicates with international networks, along with other forms of trafficking such as gun and drug/tobacco trafficking. According to the EP, trafficked women are in danger of being marginalized by the society in which they live. The EP states that “women face multiple forms of discrimination and are more vulnerable to social exclusion, poverty and extreme human rights violations, such as trafficking in human beings, especially if they do not belong to mainstream society” [74
Moreover, similarly to the two NGOs’ positions on human trafficking, the EP mentions that victims of human trafficking should not be treated as criminals or refused support. The EP mentions its deep concern regarding the media reports about victims of human trafficking being treated as criminals instead of getting support, consequently calling for the EU Commission to investigate the treatment of victims of trafficking, sexual slavery, and forced prostitution in EU states. The EP states that human rights for women should be given the highest priority in European external policies and calls for “the implementation of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims” [74
]. In many documents, the EP mentions looking forward to the results of systems put in place for monitoring transparency and financial fair play and combating corruption and human trafficking.
Moreover, the EP requests that EU states “acknowledge the serious problem of surrogacy which constitutes an exploitation of the female body and her reproductive organs” [72
]. Exploitation, commodification, and coercion can be involved when women have a baby, as an example, for wealthy parents. Furthermore, the EP “recognizes the serious problem of prostitution, including child prostitution, in the European Union, and requests further studies into the link between the legal framework in the Member State in question and the form and extent of the prostitution taking place; draws attention to the worrying increase in human trafficking into and within the EU—A trade which targets women and children in particular—and urges Member States to take firm action to combat this illegal practice” [72
Besides reproductive markets, the EP addressed the problem of illegal adoption in the EU by stating that children are trafficked for adoption, begging, forced marriages, illegal labor, prostitution and other purposes. In addition, the EP emphasizes that gender-based violence in particular makes migrant women, including undocumented migrant laborers and asylum-seekers, vulnerable. The EP sees that too often gender-based violence is allowed to continue, by being hidden and undocumented, while it is affecting many families and influencing the lives of children as well.
In some documents, the EP focuses on certain service sectors, such as massage parlors and saunas. The EP calls for an end to all the forms of harassment that workers can experience in the service sector and these forms of harassment include: “economic violence, psychological and sexual workplace harassment, sexual abuse and human trafficking” [75
]. The EP asks member states to tackle exploitation in the service sector and to fight against the criminal networks that control these services. In addition, they encourage member states to provide victim support services to those in need.
Looking at human trafficking in a broader context, the EP notes that human trafficking in connection with various other crimes can contribute to the widespread devastation of societies, especially in the Sahel-Saharan and Sinai regions. In EP documents, links are mentioned between, for example, terrorist groups in the Sahel-Saharan region and traffickers in drugs, arms, cigarettes and human beings. They report that: “State fragility, poor governance and corruption in the Sahel countries, accompanied by economic underdevelopment resulting in chronic poverty, provide a perfect environment for terrorist groups, drug and human traffickers, and groups engaged in piracy, arms trade, money laundering, illegal immigration and organized crime networks, which combine to destabilize the region, with a negative impact also on neighbouring regions” [76
]. This places the issue in the context of various other crimes, which is a similar conclusion drawn about Amnesty’s and HRW’s documents.
Due to food shortages, people seek food, work, and shelter elsewhere. The EP notes that: “Sahel is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in the past 20 years…a major humanitarian crisis may develop which could also have a negative impact on neighbouring countries” [77
]. Consequently, the lack of: economic development, social justice, implementation of laws and economic prospects, causes despair and extreme poverty among displaced people, which can then lead to terrorism or the trafficking of vulnerable populations which usually includes women and children: “Sexual violence appears to be being used as a way of intimidating and degrading women, including in refugee camps, whereas the power vacuum that has emerged can lead to deterioration of the rights of women and girls” [78
]. The EP reported cases where people were being kidnapped by traffickers in Sudan and brought to Sinai, “thousands of asylum seekers and migrants lose their lives and disappear in Sinai every year while others, including many women and children, are kidnapped and held hostage for ransom by human traffickers, victims of human traffickers are abused in the most dehumanizing manner and are subject to systemic violence and torture, rape and sexual abuse, and forced labor” [79
]. The EP urges the EU Commission and its member states to do something about the situation of women and girls in the Sahel region and to take all the necessary action that is needed to protect them from violence and human rights violations.
Also, the EP notes that: “irregular migrants are detained in Sinai and Upper Egypt without access to UNHCR and thus are denied the possibility of making asylum claims” [79
]. While it acknowledged that work already is being done by Egyptian and Israeli officials to resolve this problem, the EP urged the two countries to provide help and assistance to victims of human trafficking in Sinai. The EP has especially called upon Egypt to implement the anti-trafficking law of 2010 along with other national and international laws in order to tackle the problem of human trafficking, and to allow UN agencies access to places in Sinai affected by trafficking. “The EP urges the Egyptian authorities to take all necessary measures to stop the torture, extortion and human trafficking of Eritrean refugees and other refugees in the country, and to prosecute those who attempt to violate refugeesʼ human rights and those who practice any form of slavery, with special regard to women and children” [79
]. However, the EP did applaud the “activities of Egyptian and Israeli human rights organizations, which provide assistance and medical treatment to victims of human traffickers in Sinai,” saying said that “human rights NGOs and UN agencies should have access to areas affected by human trafficking in Sinai, and urges the international community and the EU to support their work” [79
]. Thus, in the EP’s documents, many correlations, especially with state authorities and UN agencies, were made.
The EP only addressed one case study of human trafficking in one document, which was linked to human trafficking in Sinai. The EP called for the protection of a young man called Solomon W, since he was one of the traffickers’ victims and human organ traffickers had put a price of US$50,000 on his head because, as a witness he was the “only survivor, [and] knows exactly where the prisoners are kept and he also witnessed the murders, tortures and rapes” [79
]. The EP reports that “the Eritrean young man revealed that one of the jailers showed him a plastic bag containing human organs of a refugee who did not pay the ransom” [79
]. In some cases, the documents show anticipative action. The EP asked the Council and the EU Commission to propose assistance to Libya, with the support of the UN and other international expert agencies. This support would be aimed at “addressing the problem of trafficking of human beings in the region, with special attention to the protection of women and children, including assistance to integrate legal migrants and to improve conditions for migrants found illegally in the country” [80
]. The EP noted that the conflict in Libya had increased the demand for arms in the Sahel−Saharan region, and that this new development will place greater profits of money, into the hands of numerous terrorists and drug traffickers, who will then use this money to engage in other serious crimes in the region.
The EP noted that the trafficking of persons for labor exploitation continues to be widespread in the United Arab Emirates and victims of this form of human trafficking usually “remain unidentified” [81
]. Indeed, the vast human rights violations in Central Asia were addressed by the EP. Although there is “strong political and economical interest to strengthen bi-multilateral relations with Central Asian countries,” the EP nevertheless “calls for respect of universal values such as human rights and names common challenge and threats: border management, drug and human trafficking” [82
]. The EP asks the EU to focus its assistance on combating drug and human trafficking, which it sees as the major reason for instability in Central Asia. Moreover, the EP argues that the right to an education is linked to human and civil rights, access of women to the labor market and the promotion of human rights and tolerance among young people. The EP also noted that NGOs must have the possibility to operate freely in the area, and it condemns the Uzbek government’s decision to close down the HRW office. Here, the EP explicitly referred to the role of NGOs in the region and it also commented on human trafficking as a problem in the Black Sea area. It argues that “cross-border crime and trafficking, in particular in drugs and human beings, and illegal migration to be tackled in the Black Sea Strategy, also calls for a further strengthening of cooperation on border and movement management” [83
]. As a main objective, the EP stressed that the Black Sea Region should seek to “establish an area of peace, democracy, prosperity and stability, founded on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and providing for EU energy security” [83
On many occasions, the EP noted that internationally there are very low levels of gender equality. EP documents reveal that in Afghanistan and Pakistan women and girls experience acid attacks, domestic violence, trafficking, in addition to forced and child marriages, while the police seldom address women’s complaints. The EP noted that police forces are often involved in kidnappings, rapes and murders of women. Because Pakistan’s laws are discriminatory, and the application of some laws, notably family laws, can result in womenʼs human rights being violated, the EP has been urging Afghan authorities not to follow suit and ensure that the police, courts and justice-sector officials follow up on womenʼs complaints of abuse, including beatings, rape and other forms of sexual violence. It also notes that many of the violators remain unpunished and that certain laws, e.g., family laws, lead to extensive violations of women’s rights. The EP proposes that democratic development in Afghanistan and the respect for womenʼs and others’ rights go hand in hand, and it expresses concern, especially about women being controlled by the Taliban’s social codes. In this way, human trafficking and other violations are discussed in connection with legal and ethical problems that are specific to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In the European context, the EP notes that asylum seekers from Serbia are trafficked to EU member states. The EP therefore calls for the EU to cooperate in combating the links between false asylum seekers and human trafficking, and to fight against organized criminal groups involved in human trafficking. The EP is also “seriously concerned about the role played by Kosovo organized crime in various criminal activities in the region, involving drugs and trafficking in human beings” [84
]. The EP and both NGOs urge Kosovar and Albanian authorities to cooperate with neighboring countries and to give their full support to the EULEX Special Investigative Task Force that investigates the inhumane treatment of people and the illegal trafficking in human organs. In one document on the EU’s enlargement talks with Croatia, the EP urged the authorities to fight human trafficking in order to become an EU member state, and to develop transparency and equality in their legislative, police, and judiciary processes.
Natural disasters may also lead to the devastation and exploitation of vulnerable populations. The EP also noted the exploitation faced by women and children in Haiti, and expressed concern “about the situation of the most vulnerable groups of people, in particular women and children, in the wake of the earthquake, which has had a huge impact on more than 800,000 children, exposing them to the risk of violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, exploitation and abandonment” [85
]. The EP urged Haitian authorities to increase the level of security in refugee camps, and to include Haitians in the process of rebuilding their society. The EP is asking “the international community to use this as an opportunity to tackle the root causes of underlying poverty in Haiti once and for all” [85
]. The EP also links fishing to human trafficking, as does HRW. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing attracts many illegal activities. The EP “is alarmed at the use of such criminal activities as human exploitation and trafficking, money laundering, corruption, handling of stolen goods, tax evasion and customs fraud by those engaged in IUU fishing, which should be viewed as a form of organized transnational crime” [86
]; consequently, the EP asks for more attention at the EU and Interpol levels to fight IUU fishing.
The EP also discussed human trafficking in the context of sports. Whereas the EP sees a place for sports in various sectors of a democratic society and education, it “looks forward to the results of systems put in place for monitoring transparency and financial fair play and for combating corruption and human trafficking; [it] stresses the need for the system to comply with EU law and data protection rules” [87
]. The EP argued further that any kind of discrimination should be excluded from sport as should political, religious or racist propaganda at sport events and that it should be ensured that women are not excluded from sports due to political pressure. The EP also noted that match fixing and the use of illegal prostitution take place at sporting events.
The documents show that various forms of gender-based violence, social inequality and serious human rights violations are brought together in the EP’s political discussions. Human trafficking is part of a large and complex conglomerate of social justice issues. The traditional way of thinking about human rights issues as occurring singly and in isolation no longer applies. Addressing the problem of human trafficking and finding a solution must take into consideration that social issues are intertwined, and framed together. Thus, discussing human rights violations as separate issues in the absence of any broader social−political dimensions seems vastly outdated. According to the EP, grassroots participation by NGOs is essential for solving issues such as human trafficking and gender-based violence, as is utilizing the skills of women in problem-solving and conflict resolution. The EP urges EU authorities to put all forms of human rights at the center of EU foreign policies and take into consideration the broader geopolitical context.