The AzerTAj reports in accordance with OSCE press-release, Permanent Council adopted an Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings which envisages new measures against this modern form of slavery at national and international level July 24.

The OSCE's 55 participating States approved a range of recommendations for national action such as making trafficking a criminal offence, providing protection and shelter for victims and establishing special anti-trafficking units to fight trafficking in both countries of origin and destination.

"Despite all efforts, the last decade has seen a tremendous increase both in incidents of trafficking in human beings and in the number of victims," the preamble to the Permanent Council Decision states.

"Prosecution of perpetrators remains unsatisfactory and organized criminal groups have recourse to ever more sophisticated techniques, increasing financial resources and growing networks, and benefit from corruption or lack of awareness of this crime and of its heinous nature among some relevant officials, the media and the public at large."

The Action Plan recommends that all participating States should adopt laws making trafficking a criminal offence and ensure that victims are not subject to criminal proceedings solely because they have been trafficked.

States are urged to take appropriate measures to protect victims or witnesses who testify in criminal proceedings, as well as their relatives, from potential retaliation or intimidation. Information exchanges between law enforcement bodies are also seen as critical.

The Action Plan recommends the establishment of shelters for victims and says they should be assisted with repatriation – preferably voluntary – to their home countries. Governments should consider providing social and economic benefits to victims and ensure that anti-trafficking measures do not hinder the right of victims to apply for asylum in accordance with international refugee law.

Countries of destination are recommended to consider liberalising their labour markets to increase employment opportunities and to address "the problem of unprotected, informal and often illegal labour with a view to seeking a balance between the demand for inexpensive labour and the possibilities of regular migration."

Recommendations for countries of origin include improving access to education and vocational opportunities for children, especially for girls and minority groups, and enhancing job opportunities for women by encouraging the development of small businesses.

In the months leading up to the OSCE Ministerial Council in Maastricht in December, the Permanent Council will discuss ways of strengthening the OSCE's operational instruments to implement the Action Plan.

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