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29.03.2007

They sell people not only abroad, but in Ukraine

   

Since the beginning of 2007 anti-trafficking divisions in the Rivne region have launched 8 criminal investigations. Over the 12 months of last year this figure came to 27. Not one of those convicted was imprisoned.

According to Olha Balaban, Head of the section on employment abroad of the anti-trafficking division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for the Rivne region, one needs first to understand the very words human trafficking. Many people are in difficulty and don’t realize that they can ask for help.

She stresses that human trafficking does not just refer to sexual exploitation, but can include getting young people to beg on the streets, using Ukrainian nationals in armed conflicts abroad and other illegal actions aimed at exploiting people for profit.

In 2005 and 2006 the Rivne civic association “Chaika” ran a programme entitled “Sharing experience on initiatives to combat human trafficking” supported by the British Council in Ukraine.

The head of “Chaika” Larissa Hunko explains: “The main purpose of the project was to prevent human trafficking and run a mass information campaign to ensure that people were on their guard and didn’t end up in the hands of crooks. In our cities internal slavery is rampant. It was thanks to civic organizations which pushed amendments to legislation that human trafficking is now considered to be not only those crimes connected with recruitment and transporting people abroad to be exploited. The requirement that the border had to be crossed has been removed. Our law enforcement officers no longer have to wait until a person has moved outside the country before they step in”. ‘

“There is a fixed idea that women who travel abroad are only earning money. However in our work we see that in most cases women are fleeing abroad from violence in the home, among their circle, at work or in other places.”

According to Olha Balaban, it is quite frequent for the private firms providing work abroad to recruit people for construction or farming work. The people are taken to other countries where they work directly as slaves.

She stresses that people need to be aware of the dangers and what to do before travelling abroad.

They should:

-  check with the embassy of the country where they’re planning to go to find out what kind of visas they may need;

-  definitely have all necessary documents on them;

-  only use official agencies when looking for work abroad;

-  consult with officers of anti-trafficking divisions;

-  make photocopies of their passport and all documents and give these for safekeeping to a person they can trust;

-  definitely tell their relatives about where they plan to be abroad;

-  not give their passport to anyone except official representatives of the police or customs officers;

-  make sure that they have the telephone number of the embassy or consulate of their own country in their destination country;

-  make sure that they have the telephone number of anti-trafficking organizations;

-  not sign any contract of work abroad without getting it checking by a specialist (!!! This can be done in an anti-trafficking organization)

-  not agree to any verbal contract;

-  arrange a code word or similar with relatives to use if in danger (when the person cannot make phone calls in private.

A list is provided of phone numbers here in Ukraine and in Turkey for people who are in difficulty.

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