Hearing the Child’s Story unveils the reality of human trafficking

Children and young people who have been victims of trafficking and exploitation rarely get the opportunity to tell their story in full. The CBSS and the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) believe that an interdisciplinary approach to interviewing children and young people can lead to a more efficient identification system with a relevant follow-up. The situation in the Nordic region is similar to the one we find in Europe.

“Information from children and adolescents must be analysed in a broader context. When children and adolescents are heard in a professional and child-friendly way, and their stories are reviewed collectively by social and migration services as well as the judicial system, the bigger picture can be seen,” says Turid Heiberg, Head of Unit for Children at Risk (CAR) Unit.

This is one of the several important points to be taken from the five-year CBSS-led work in close cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers. The conclusions will be discussed by political decision-makers, practitioners, advocates and researchers from the Baltic Sea Region and other European countries at a regional expert consultation on ‘Good Practices in Identification and Referral of Children at Risk of Exploitation and Trafficking’ in Oslo, Norway on 29-30 May 2018 organised by The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir). The Norwegian Deputy Minister for Children and Equality, Mr Tom Erlend Skaug, will open the consultation. Together with leading European and international experts from the child rights and anti-trafficking field, the participants will engage in a review of the current state of knowledge, policy and practice and adopt the Oslo Conclusions.

Authorities in most European countries are fully aware that they only identify a fraction of children (and adults) exposed to human trafficking, despite the large influx of unaccompanied minors in 2015.

“Nearly 50 million children have been forced to leave their homes because of war, violence, persecution or extreme poverty, according to UNICEF. The number of child refugees increased by approximately 75 percent between 2010 and 2015. Children make up for about 28 percent of trafficking victims globally. As one of the most important destinations for children on the move, Europe is at the centre of all kinds of child exploitation” said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children and President of the European Federation for Missing and Exploited Children (“Missing Children Europe”).

“But we know very little about what happens to these children when they have set foot on European soil. Migrant children are particularly vulnerable, as demand for children is high among traffickers. Europol, the European Police Office, reported in 2016 that at least 10,000 unaccompanied children have disappeared since they arrived in Europe, and in Sweden, up to ten children per week go missing. For Sweden, this corresponds to 60 whole school classes missing in the period between 2014 and 2017 –  major efforts need yet to be made,” said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.

For over 20 years,  building a broad system to identify children and adults vulnerable to trafficking in human beings has been proven valuable. The UN, the Council of Europe and the EU have developed an international regulatory framework – and at national level it has been implemented through specialized units, strategies, follow-up actions and projects. Yet too few children and adolescents have been identified and receive an adequate follow-up.

“Many children and young people have been in contact with the social services and the police without being allowed to tell their entire story. Thus, their exploitation can continue,” Heiberg says.

Click here for a detailed programme of the conference.


Press contacts:

Turid Heiberg
Head of Unit for the Children at Risk (CAR) Unit
+46 706 671 924

Marlene Riedel
Media & Communications Assistant for CBSS Children at Risk (CAR) Unit

Anthony Jay Olsson
CBSS Head of Media & Communications

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