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Modern Slavery Risk Increases For EU Countries

The risk of modern slavery has risen in 20 member states of the European Union.

A global ranking, released recently, reported that 20 member states of the EU now have a higher risk of modern slavery.

In an analysis by Verisk Maplecroft, a risk analytics company, The Modern Slavery Index 2017 revealed that five EU countries, including Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Bulgaria, were noted as having the highest risk of slavery. A major reason pinpointed in the analysis was the the high concentration of migrants who are “extremely vulnerable to exploitation entering these countries. More shockingly, the report also showed that 60 percent of countries ranked in the “high” or “extreme risk” category.

Verisk Maplecroft Human Rights Analyst, Alexandra Channer, told CNN that she links this increased risk of modern slavery directly to the rise of undocumented immigrants entering the EU. “Migrants are already vulnerable when they begin their journey – they’re generally fleeing countries of violence and extreme poverty. Generally they’re going into the hands of people smugglers and then very quickly being trapped in the hands of trafficking gangs,” she said. “The chances are that before they even enter the workplace they’re already in conditions of modern slavery.”

The goal of publishing this data, CNN reported, is to help businesses “identify where the risk of modern slavery is greatest” in all elements of their business operations and dealings. They would then be able to aid human rights initiatives to help stop and prevent exploitation.

The European Commission, for example, responded to the report by outlining a list of steps currently in place to fight human trafficking.

European Commission spokeswoman Tove Ernst said in an email to CNN, “we are aware the migration crisis has been exploited by criminals who target the most vulnerable – women and children. The EU has a strong legal framework to fight human trafficking and, together with the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, we will work to improve coordination between EU institutions, agencies and States as well as non-EU countries and international actors to prevent and fight trafficking.”

On the issue, Channer added, “a huge problem for anyone trying to assess the risk of modern slavery is that this is a criminal activity, it’s hidden, even though it’s a billion dollar business.”

Ernst said, “the Commission and EU Agencies support national authorities to better manage the migration flows and ensure that all persons arriving are identified, registered and channeled through the right procedures, with particular attention being paid to the most vulnerable migrants.”

Of all the data collected in the official analysis, the most clear fact revealed is that the landscape for human rights in countries around the world is changing and, unfortunately, not all for the better.

Romania reportedly had the “sharpest rise in risk globally” compared to last years index, moving 56 places down from last year (in the 66th ranking).

“We are constantly concerned, not only in order to ensure the functioning of the national anti-trafficking system, but also to improve the situation,” said Romanian National Agency against Human Trafficking in Persons (ANITP) spokesperson Ciprian Ghituleasa. According to CNN, the ANITP also reported 252 convictions for human trafficking in 2015 and 333 convictions in 2016.

Turkey moved into the high risk category of the index from the 110th place to the 58th place. This is the world’s second largest increase in risk.

India showed an increased risk as well, moving from the 15th to 49th place.

CNN reports that some of this movement is due to stronger efforts from the government to enforce regulations against slavery. While this is a good sign, there is still much work to be done.

Featured Image at Rock Cohen on  Flickr
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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