Subject: EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in agreement on the need for
prompt legislation to combat trafficking in human beings

Policy area: Justice, home affairs and civil protection
News item: Press release

'At this very moment as I open the press conference - somewhere in
Europe - a 15 - 16-year-old girl is lying in an undercover brothel waiting
for the next man.'

'There is a slave trade ongoing today in our own countries and in
countries in our vicinity. We cannot shut our eyes to the reality. This
applies in particular to us Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs.'

These were the words of the Swedish Minister for Justice, Thomas Bodström,
today after the Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers had
discussed measures to combat trafficking in human beings.

'In concrete terms this means finding common definitions and fairly
similar sanctions so that those who control trafficking in humans cannot
find free zones with unclear legislation. We, the Justice and Home Affairs
Ministers of the EU, unanimously agreed today on the need to rapidly
negotiate improved legislation against trafficking in human beings,' Mr
Bodström said.

The Swedish Presidency emphasised the importance of the EU having a
collective strategy against trafficking in human beings. Such a strategy
should contain both legislative measures and police cooperation as well as
financial support to projects combating trafficking in women and
cooperation with countries that are not members of the EU. EU candidate
countries will be invited to discuss measures to combat trafficking in
human beings at the formal meeting of JHA Ministers in March.

Some estimates put the number of people brought into the EU against their
will who become victims of the sex trade or are forced to work in
slave-like conditions at several hundred thousand. This trafficking is
often carried out by well organised gangs of criminals.