"The draft Convention on action against trafficking in human beings is still far from guaranteeing the effective and adequate protection for victims which was the Committee of Ministers' objective when it instructed a group of experts to draft a convention which would have the added value of protecting the rights of the victims as human beings". Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold (Switzerland, SOC) was speaking in Paris on 28 February during a meeting of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.
The PACE’s opinion on this draft Council of Europe Convention, based on a report by Ms Vermot-Mangold and adopted unanimously in January this year, called for 50 amendments to be made. Only two of these amendments - concerning victim protection and the binding nature of the Convention - have been incorporated into the text, however.
"These developments are damaging to the protection of the victims of one of the most odious crimes. With the proposal that the European Commission be made responsible for monitoring the proper application by European Community member states of the provisions of the Convention which fall within its remit, they have made a flagrant attempt to evade supervision under the monitoring machinery set up by the draft Convention. What is more, such a system would be based on the application of double standards and a two-speed mechanism, Ms Vermot-Mangold explained to the Committee.
"Finally, the way in which this Convention was drawn up by the committee of experts - the European Commission negotiated on behalf of 22 member states - raises questions about responsibilities and about procedures which jeopardise the Council of Europe's future as a body responsible for drafting and negotiating treaties", she added.
The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men unanimously adopted a new draft recommendation with a view to having seven key amendments incorporated, to rejecting the amendments to the draft Convention proposed by the European Community and to including the drafting of Council of Europe conventions on the agenda for the 3rd Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government (Warsaw, 16 and 17 May). The PACE will discuss this draft recommendation at the forthcoming meeting of its Standing Committee, in Paris on 18 March, in the framework of a debate under urgent procedure.