International Conference on “Combating Forced Labour and Human Trafficking” in Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Europe must adopt a public policy geared towards the relief of people hit by the global financial crisis, said President Karolos Papoulias on Friday, November 21, opening a three-day international conference on “Combating Forced Labour and Human Trafficking” in Athens organised by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) to mark the 90th anniversary since its founding. The president emphasised that slavery and slave-trade is one of darkest pages in human history, underlining the importance of safeguarding human rights. The event was jointly organised by the International Trade Union Confederation, and the Confederation of European Trade Unions. Also speaking at the conference, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said that according to international figures, a total of 12.3 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, while an increase of 20 million of unemployed has been forecasted. “Neither the free economy nor open societies are to be blamed for the situation,” she said, explaining that the problem stems from the lack of rules, regulatory framework and control mechanisms. The minister suggested stricter penalties for culprits, increased protection for victims and higher public awareness. Addressing the conference on Sunday, main opposition PASOK party leader and President of the Socialist International George Papandreou stressed that combating forced labour and human trafficking is first and foremost a political issue and warned that of the millions of people worldwide held under conditions of forced labour, 5.7 million are children. He also said that figures show that roughly 1.8 million children also fall victim to sexual exploitation. Athens News Agency: Papandreou at conference on combating trafficking