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Press Release

18.10.17

18 October – EU Anti-Trafficking Day

The European Commission has proclaimed 18 October as EU Anti-Trafficking Day in order to increase awareness of the phenomenon, in which the victims are fundamentally deprived of their human rights. In Slovenia we are marking this day with two projects which focus on trafficking in human beings for purposes of forced labour and labour exploitation. The goal of the preventive activities is to reduce demand for services provided under various forms of forced labour by victims of human trafficking.

 
Trafficking in human beings for purposes of forced labour and labour exploitation is increasing, and accounts for 21 percent of all registered victims of trafficking in EU Member States. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the true extent of the problem generally remains out of view. Victims carry out forced labour against their will, under the threat of punishment, whereby their freedom and dignity are violated. In many cases, employers exploit the social vulnerability of workers and abuse it in order to subjugate them. Foreign workers, who are often caught in mechanisms of exploitation and dependence due to debt, are particularly susceptible to forced labour and labour exploitation.

   
Human trafficking due to forced labour is barely recognised in Slovenia

 
Data from researchers and various monitoring institutions indicate that Slovenia has also experienced a gradual but extremely large increase in the number of violations of workers’ basic rights in the past decade, but no cases of human trafficking were found. According to Sandi Čurin, Slovenia’s national coordinator for this area, “the number of criminal complaints and the number of convictions is the benchmark used to assess the scope of an individual phenomenon in society, and to place it on the map of awareness. We have not reached this benchmark, but some of the cases we are seeing have elements of trafficking. Recognising, detecting and proving the existence of these forms of trafficking is extremely difficult. Therefore preventive action is very important, and both supply and demand have to be cut off.”

 
Cooperation with an NGO whose mission is to provide information to decision-makers in the public sector and victims of labour exploitation

 
The purpose of the first project is to provide information to decision-makers in the public sector about the risks of outsourcing, about common violations of the rights of workers who are an integral part of the subcontractors’ business model, and about the responsibilities of clients to identify and prevent exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking. Recently we have seen an increasing number of cases in which severe exploitation has occurred in public institutions, where outsourcing of works is well established. Particularly in cleaning and security services, the leaders of public institutions usually hire subcontractors under the false assumption that they are thereby disburdened of the obligation to ensure workers’ rights. Therefore in the project in question, in cooperation with the Workers Consultancy association we address decision-makers in the public sector which hire service providers through public contracts and pay them from public funds. Decision-makers will also receive guidelines for the appropriate application of social clauses in typical contracts between contracting authorities and service providers.

   
The second project addresses potential victims of labour exploitation and forced labour. It is being carried out by the social enterprise Iz principa (On Principle), which will open an “Escape Room” in Ljubljana on 18 October, in which visitors will be able to have a first-hand experience of the trap of exploitative labour. If they want to escape from the room, they will have to resolve various situations that will simulate the conditions of exploitative labour. The Escape Room will be open at Kolodvorska 20 in Ljubljana until 27 October 2017, with 7 different time slots available every day.

 

In 2016, the Interministerial Working Group informed companies and employers about the risks of hiring subcontractors and hiring via employment agencies, and drafted an online manual titled Prevent Concealed Forced Labour. 


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