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What is europe doing to prevent human trafficking?

According to Europol, coordination between member states in order to confront the crime is however quite effective and new strategies are constantly being developed on the European level. International conventions such as the 'Palermo Protocol' or the Council of Europe Convention on Action against the Trafficking in Human Beings, signed in 2008, have substantially increased awareness amongst law makers, law enforcement and the judiciary across Europe. As recently as April 2011, the new Directive on trafficking in human beings has been published, which aims at harmonising the legal response among European member states. On an operational level, a new and promising method of investigation into trafficking networks is to focus on suspicious financial transactions or influxes of money in order to identify the criminals. Yet, we must go back to the source of the problem.

"If you ask me what we still need to do, I'd say that the most important thing is to tackle the demand, especially in the case of sex trafficking. It's the customers who trigger the crime," Ellero said. 

"Every country has developed its own approach to discourage the demand. In Sweden, prostitution is strictly forbidden and they actually criminalise the purchase of sexual services. In the Netherlands prostitution is legal because they hope to control it better that way. They tackle the problem of demand mainly by awareness campaigns and have a lot of outreach with the girls. Some countries have a hotline, where the prostitute's clients can report if they suspect the woman to be a trafficking victim.

"In my opinion, the best strategy is to train police officers to look for the trafficking case behind each case of exploitation, however it materialises."

But all these measures have not yet stopped human trafficking from happening in Europe. Ana's story is just one of many cases of human trafficking which happen, literally under our noses, every day.

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