Ofir / Esposende, 23 rd - 24 th of September, 2005
The European Conference on Child Trafficking, promoted by the Global March through its representative in Portugal, CNASTI (Confederação Nacional de Acção Sobre Trabalho Infantil) took place at Ofir/Esposende on the 23 rd and 24 th of September, 2005. 110 national and international representatives of about 56 NGO’s and Governmental Institutions – not only from Europe, but also from Asia, Africa and America – attended it. The purpose of this International Conference was to gather all the major actors in Civil Society and Non Governmental and Governmental Organizations in order to help fight child trafficking. Based on the papers presented and the participants’ debate, we highlight the following:
1. Children are the best thing on earth. They are human beings in their own right that must be loved, respected and helped in order to grow as Individuals;
2. They bring signs of hope and of a fairer and more human world. Also, they create new politics from their own groups;
3. According to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, child trafficking is a crime against humanity. It is not an isolated problem, but the consequence of several deficits: political; economic; social and moral. Criminals must be judged.
4. The trafficking of human beings is part of a wide spectrum where supply and demand increase corruption at an international level; where the weapon and drug trafficking, prostitution networks, sex tourism, paedophilia, virtual pornography (on websites) and illegal immigration proliferate. This industry operates both at a national and international level;
5. One of the European illegal entrances for children and women is in Portugal and Spain. It is estimated that around fifty thousand children are subjected to trafficking every year in Europe alone, although there are no official records that confirm these figures;
6. Child trafficking is compared with weapon and drug trafficking, both being at times perpetrated by the same criminal organizations and along the same lines. They generate great amounts of money and make dealers rich with impunity;
7. In this situation, the child is considered a good which is part of global business. Its supply is proportional to demand. It is estimated that this business transacts about twelve billion dollars a year. For example, the money spent by Europeans on ice-creams would be enough to give an education to every single child living in poverty;
8. Children and parents throw themselves into the hands of strangers in search of a better life. However, they soon realize their expectations and dreams will not be fulfilled;
9. Legislation to fight these situations is either non existent or it is so diverse (as happens in European countries) that sometimes it undermines action and makes it difficult to develop networking. Victims are not considered human beings;
10. We cannot allow that some questions remain unanswered:
- Why do children become subject to commercialization?
- Why have not we managed to solve these problems yet?
- Why is it that the large majority of the countries still does not abide by the obligation of paying dues destined to put an end to poverty in the world, in accordance with what was agreed by the UN?
- “I’m not a child anymore; it was my mother’s illiteracy that enabled my exploitation, with just a simple print.” Will we manage to act in such a way that we no longer have to listen to this kind of clamour?
11. Thus, the Conference demands:
- Enforcement of the statues defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Thoroughly supporting the already existing good practices that aim at fighting child trafficking and child labour, specially in terms of legislation, juridical proceedings, criminal investigation and judicial systems. This support would also involve the design of a “Handbook on good practices ” ;
- A greater exposure of these issues in order to make civil society and legislative and judicial powers aware and instigate their mobilization;
- Regular and formal structures of research mechanisms on the basis of multicultural, bilateral and multilateral agreements that cannot be let at the mercy of the police;
- The creation of training programmes on child trafficking to: all the policemen; social intervention agents; consulates and embassies’ officials; law and education officials. This training aims at a greater cooperation and the development of research, facilitating and enabling networking;
- Pass legislation (non existent in many countries) that strongly fights child trafficking;
- The recognition from the European Union of the existence of child labour and taking measurements, as happens in Portugal, through the programme PETI - (Programa para a Prevenção e Eliminação da Exploração do Trabalho Infantil – Programme for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour) in Europe;
- That the issue of Women and child trafficking be part of the political agenda, as well as the ratification and implementation of the Palermo and ILO (138 th and 182 nd) Conventions, which regulate child trafficking, minimum age for working and the worst forms of child labour;
- Give voice to the Child, both through his/her participation in solving his/her own problems, and through judicial support and protection of the victims;
- Ensure the reliability of the ID documentation in order to prevent the easy forgery of documentation;
- Ask the media not to advertise the ads that lead to children and women exploitation;
- Include the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the national school curriculae so that all citizens who are under eighteen years old can be properly protected;
- Criar um estatuto da vítima explorada;
- Fight poverty and all means of exclusion;
- To prevent the quest for armament, changing the paradigm from triangular to quadrangular, Peace being part of it.
For all this, the consciousness of the Global March family must be raised. Also, this family must implement, through networking, continuous action that allows accomplishing what was here discussed and put in perspective, so that the expectations of the children involved in this trafficking are fulfilled.
“We are the present, our voice is the future, do not forget us…”
Stop talking, act, now!