Thursday, September 18, 2008

From the OSCE:

Joint UN-OSCE meeting aims to intensify fight against money laundering and human trafficking in the Mediterranean region

LARNACA, 18 September 2008 - Helping Mediterranean countries strengthen their fight against money laundering and human trafficking and improve their co-operation in prevention efforts was the goal of a meeting that started in Larnaca today.

The two-day event is jointly organized by the OSCE, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

The meeting aims to inform government officials from the Mediterranean region on international standards in building an effective system to fight money laundering and human trafficking and how to better co-ordinate the fight against both crimes.

The meeting, the first of its kind, aims to help countries implement best international practices to protect their populations, meet their international obligations and improve regional and international co-operation.

"Individual countries cannot fight the double threats of money laundering and human trafficking alone," said Bernard Snoy, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities. "Criminal groups thrive on evading detection by moving from country to country, playing the various agencies against each other. This requires co-ordinated actions by financial intelligence units and law enforcement agencies of the countries concerned."

Ruth Pojman, Deputy Co-ordinator of the Office of the Special Representative on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, added: "Anti-trafficking policies need to address factors such as the demand for cheap, socially unprotected labour and sexual exploitation. They also must focus on the economic costs of trafficking and disrupt the traffickers to create an environment where trafficking is less likely to happen in the first place."

They both said the OSCE was ready to offer assistance to the governments of the region, if requested, to help develop legislation, mechanisms, institutions and procedures to be able to effectively fight both money laundering and human trafficking.

More than 100 officials from more than 20 countries in the Mediterranean region took part in the meeting. Experts from international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the European Commission, Europol, the International Organisation on Migration and the International Chamber of Commerce, as well as state agencies, institutes and universities from Cyprus, France, Switzerland and the United States took part in the meeting.

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