20 September 2002
A campaign against trafficking in minors to put a stop to the east European route: the example of Moldova
Recommendation 1526 (2001)
Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 808th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (18 September 2002)
1. The Committee of Ministers has examined with interest the Parliamentary Assembly's Recommendation 1526 (2001) – A campaign to combat trafficking in minors to put a stop to the east European route: the example of Moldova. It agrees with the Assembly that this phenomenon requires strong measures, both nationally and internationally, by all the Council of Europe's member states.
2. The protection of children is a subject which the Committee of Ministers has been actively addressing for many years. At the same time, the member states have realised the seriousness of the trafficking phenomenon, by which most of them are affected, whether as the victims' countries of origin, transit or destination.
3. This commitment has recently resulted in the adoption by the Committee of Ministers of two particularly relevant recommendations. The first, drafted by the Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG), concerns combating trafficking in human beings (adults and minors) for purposes of sexual exploitation1. The second, produced in the course of legal co-operation, concerns the protection of children against sexual exploitation2. The latter, together with the Convention on Cybercrime, which makes it a criminal offence to produce, possess or distribute child pornography, constituted a concrete contribution by the Council of Europe to the Second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (Yokohama, December 2001). This contribution was further enriched by the European Countries Declaration on the Yokohama Global Commitment 2001. In addition, a Group of Specialists on the protection of children against sexual exploitation (PC-S-ES) was created this year with the task to develop measures designed to ensure the protection of children against sexual exploitation and to provide effective follow-up to the Second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. This Group will be called upon to take account of the Regional Commitment and Plan of Action of the preparatory Conference for the Second World Congress in Yokohama, which took place in Budapest in November 2001, as well as of the Yokohama Global Commitment 2001 and the European Countries Declaration on the Yokohama Global Commitment 2001, Recommendation Rec(2001)16 on the protection of children against sexual exploitation, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant instruments dealing with the protection of children.
4. The Assembly mentions the part played by modern communication technologies in trafficking in minors. The Committee of Ministers is aware of the supplementary dimension given to the trafficking phenomenon by such technologies. It wishes to draw attention in this respect to the work carried out under the authority of the CDEG by the Group of Experts (EG-S-NT), which is currently considering the impact of the use of new information technologies, including the Internet, on trafficking in human beings for purposes of sexual exploitation and will be publishing its final report of activities by the end of 2002.
5. With regard to the proposal set out in the recommendation to “help appoint a children’s ombudsman”, the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights requires Parties to encourage the promotion and the exercise of children's rights, through bodies which perform functions to that end (Article 12). In most cases these take the form of ombudsmen for children. Many member states of the Council of Europe have already instituted such a body or similar body. The Committee of Ministers has also noted the Assembly's proposals for increasing co-operation in the fields of education, combatting the abandonment of children and social and health protection. Those are important aspects of the work of the European Committee for Social Cohesion (CDCS), in particular through the Forum for Children and Families. The Forum, always ready to listen to children and adolescents, who have participated in its work since its creation, has provided inspiration for intergovernmental activities in favour of children in the Council of Europe.
6. The Forum's current activities include children's day care, children at risk and children in institutions. Particular attention is being paid to preventing child placement and preparing children for adult life on leaving institutions. Furthermore, in drawing up future work programmes in this sector, the Committee of Ministers will be examining proposals which it hopes will contribute to increased awareness and prevention of child trafficking.
7. In its recommendation, the Assembly has chosen to focus on Moldova, in particular recommending financial assistance from the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). The Committee of Ministers assures the Assembly that the CEB has taken note of this recommendation by the Assembly. In reply to this invitation, the Bank communicated the comments of its Governing Board, which the Assembly will find in the appendix to this reply. The Committee of Ministers appreciates the CEB’s constructive approach in this respect and adds its exhortations to those of the Bank’s Governing Board.
8. Regarding the points mentioned by the Assembly in paragraph 12 of its recommendation, the Committee of Ministers refers to the provisions of Recommendations R(2000)11 and Rec(2001)16, which cover many of the Assembly's proposals. Criminal law measures, victim protection and assistance3, special training for the relevant personnel4, the establishment of national victim protection machinery and international co-ordination5 are all addressed in these Recommendations.
9. The Committee of Ministers also takes note of the Assembly's proposal concerning reduction of demand in relation to child trafficking. It points out that Recommendation No R(2000)11 (paragraph 8 of the Appendix) encourages national and international research into the clients of the sex trade: trends in demand and impact on human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation. Moreover, an opinion recently submitted by the CDEG contains relevant proposals which the Committee of Ministers will bear in mind when developing future activities.
10. Generally speaking, the Committee of Ministers is aware that the lack of comparable data and trafficking statistics is an obstacle to effective action. It accordingly encourages all efforts, both national and international, to develop the collection of data and statistics to describe the phenomenon more accurately. With regard to the specific question of organ trafficking, referred to in paragraph 3 of the recommendation, the Committee of Ministers wishes to mention the Secretary General’s recent initiative to send a questionnaire to all member states of the Council of Europe inquiring about the existence of legal instruments dealing with organ trafficking, organisational measures already in place in the countries and studies already undertaken concerning organ trafficking. The replies to this questionnaire will help to identify shortcomings and will provide an overall view of the situation of organ trafficking in Europe.
11. The Committee of Ministers would remind the Assembly that the Council of Europe, through its Directorate General of Human Rights in partnership with DG I – Legal Affairs and the PACO programme, is contributing to the objectives of the Stability Pact Task Force on trafficking and the initiative against organised crime (SPOC) via a pilot project concerning Romania and Moldova.
- This project on “reform of criminal law relating to trafficking in human beings in south-eastern Europe” aims to bring human trafficking under the criminal law at regional level and to afford the victims protection of their fundamental rights. The first of three planned seminars took place in Bucharest on 24-26 October 2001 and the second in Chisinau on 12-14 December 2001.
- The Council of Europe also organised on 23-24 November 2001 in Belgrade under the Stability Pact Task Force a regional training course on criminal law reform on trafficking in human beings in south-eastern Europe. This training course aimed at establishing a framework for the necessary legislative reforms taking into account relevant international instruments. The main objective was to ensure that the preparation, adoption and implementation of comprehensive legislation cover all aspects of trafficking in human beings.
- The third and final seminar of the pilot project on criminal law reform on trafficking in human beings in south-eastern Europe took place in Strasbourg from 18 to 20 February 2002. It discussed the implementation of the recommendations adopted at the previous two seminars, the implementation of national action plans, the training needs of the different actors involved in combating trafficking in human beings and international co-operation.
- The Committee of Ministers welcomes the success of this project which will hence continue on regional level and be extended to the whole of south-eastern Europe, in the framework of the LARA project, implemented jointly by DGI and DGII under the Stability Pact Task Force.
12. In addition to these targeted co-operation programmes, the Committee of Ministers would recall the efforts of co-operation undertaken together with Moldova in the field of democracy building and in this respect refer to the reply given to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1554 (2002) on functioning of democratic institutions in Moldova. It further recalls its decision to designate in the near future a Special Representative of the Secretary General in Chisinau, responsible for co-ordinating the implementation of co-operation programmes and reporting on political developments in Moldova.
Comments submitted on 14 December 2001 by the Governing Board of the Council of Europe Development Bank on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1526 (2000)
The Governing Board took note of Recommendation 1526 (2000) and in particular of point 8.ii inviting the Council of Europe Development Bank to provide financial aid to Moldova with the priority of developing education, training and employment opportunities for young people and especially young women.
Moldova joined the Council of Europe Development Bank in May 1998, accepting to pay a contribution to the Bank’s capital and reserves. Unfortunately, Moldova is late in paying part of these contributions. The Bank’s rules provide that in such a case the member country may not present new loan requests or receive disbursements for loans already approved. The Bank has many times drawn the attention of the Moldavian authorities to the importance of regularising its situation in the Bank. In particular, the Chairman of the Governing Board and the Governor of the Bank addressed on 26 September 2001 a letter to the President of Moldova, and in June 2001 one of the Vice Governors of the Bank visited the country and met its Prime Minister. The CEB indicated its readiness to arrange another visit to Moldova in order to discuss possible solutions.
The CEB could make a substantial contribution for the benefit of socially underprivileged groups in Moldova, in particular by financing projects related to education, vocational training and job creation in the SME’s. The Governing Board hopes that Moldova will soon be able to regularise its position in the Bank in order to gain access to its loans for promoting social progress in this country.
1 . Recommendation R(2000)11 adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 May 2000.
2 . Recommendation R(2001)16 adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 31 October 2001.
3 . Points VI (Penal legislation and judicial co-operation) and V (Assistance to and protection of victims) of the Appendix to Recommendation R(2000)11 and point III (Criminal law, procedure and coercive measures in general) of Recommendation Rec(2001)16.
4 . Recommendations R(2000)11 (paragraph 19 of the appendix) and Rec(2001)16 (point VI. – Measures relating to trafficking in children, paragraph 61).
5 . Point VII (Measures for co-ordination and co-operation) of the appendix to Recommendation No R(2000)11 and point VII (International co-operation) of Recommendation Rec(2001)16.