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EU unveils 5-year plan to fight human trafficking, fraud, online predators

The EU strategy includes criminalizing services that take advantage of trafficking victims, eliminate ways criminals use the Internet to make money for those services and improve assistance to potential victims. File Photo by symbiot/Shutterstock/UPI
The EU strategy includes criminalizing services that take advantage of trafficking victims, eliminate ways criminals use the Internet to make money for those services and improve assistance to potential victims. File Photo by symbiot/Shutterstock/UPI

April 14 (UPI) -- The European Union on Wednesday announced a five-year plan to expand policing and fight organized crime that's involved with human trafficking, fraud and cybercrime.

The European Commission outlined the plan, which seeks to nab high-level offenders for crimes like human trafficking, money laundering and fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The commission said human trafficking nets about $35 billion per year and the coronavirus pandemic and more sophistication online has made it more difficult to fight.

"Fighting trafficking in human beings is part of our work toward building a Europe that protects," Margaritis Schinas, vice president of Promoting Our European Way of Life, said in a statement.

"We are taking a three-pronged approach, using legislation, policy and operational support and funding in tandem to reduce demand, break the criminal business and empower victims of this abominable crime."

The report said 60% of repatriated victims of human trafficking in the EU in 2017 and 2018 were involved in sexual exploitation. Another 15% involved labor exploitation. It also noted that women and girls made up 72% of exploited victims.

The new strategy includes criminalizing services that take advantage of trafficking victims, eliminate ways criminals use the Internet to make money for those services and improve assistance to potential victims.

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"Trafficking in human beings is a crime that should have no place in our societies," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said.

"We owe the victims protection, and we need to bring to justice the perpetrators who treat human beings as a commodity."

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