From owner-labor-l@YORKU.CA Tue Jul 23 12:30:05 2002
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 11:49:39 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: grok <grok@SPRINT.CA>
Subject: [Fwd: Western officials ‘colluding with people traffickers']

Subject: Western officials ‘colluding with people traffickers’
Date: 23 Jul 2002 00:14:22 -0700,3604,761567,00.html

Western officials ‘colluding with people traffickers’

By Rory Carroll, Rome, The Guardian, 23 July 2002

Some western officials are undermining the fight against human trafficking by becoming cronies of Balkan pimps and having sex with the prostitutes they are supposed to rescue, according to a damning report published yesterday.

Criminal gangs who earn billions of pounds by trading women and children have corrupted elements of the local and international police forces and border guards at the forefront of Europe's crackdown.

The report, commissioned by the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, says trafficking in south-eastern Europe is growing worse despite—and in some cases because of—the international campaign to end the trade.

“Stories about local and international police frequenting bars, using the services of women and being on good terms with the owners and traffickers are legion,” the report adds.

The presence of foreign soldiers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and western officials in other eastern European countries, is said to have fuelled the industry.

“The international market for sex services as well as local demand has expanded, particularly in countries where there is a large international presence,” the report says.

Such an environment deters prostitutes—in many cases teenage girls forced into the sex industry—from trying to escape, says the report, citing an alleged case in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where police handed women over to traffickers after arresting them in a brothel.

“There is also information about Bulgarian border police who first took money from women to take them safely back to Bulgaria, only to deliver them back to the traffickers for additional money,” the report adds.

Since illegal immigration became an electoral issue EU governments have promised improved coordination and resources to combat human trafficking but the reality, according to the 270-page report, is a shambles which has left women and children more vulnerable to exploitation.

“The attempts to come to grips with the problem of human trafficking have so far been toothless and without much success. Despite increased attention at the political level, few states have taken adequate measures to protect individuals from trafficking and its related human rights abuses,” the report says.

Not all of the women are abused. Ethnic conflict and economic meltdown have shredded incomes and opportunity, especially for women, and many choose to enter the west illegally to work as waitresses, nannies and prostitutes, the report points out.

It adds: “They are able to achieve their goals [and] are often able to improve the economic condition of their family and their own position within it.”

But, according to the report, there is a separate category of women and children who end up the property of traffickers. It says they should be treated as victims of crime, not illegal immigrants and points out that they seldom get medical care for possible sexual diseases, or the chance to testify in court against the traffickers.

The criminal gangs are increasingly bolstered by ex-prostitutes who return home to recruit girls. Such women have been known to manipulate aid agencies, pretending they are fleeing their pimps, to gain a free flight.

Authorities pressured for results have allegedly distorted statistics. “For example, prevention of trafficking is used as an argument for refusing young women entry to a country or for refusing to issue them a visa, and then, in the police statistics, these cases are relabelled as successful cases of rescuing ’victims of trafficking’.”

Two people drowned and dozens were injured after an Italian coastal patrol boat hit a motor dinghy packed with suspected illegal immigrants and refugees near the Albanian coast, Italian customs officials said yesterday.