Romania has become a major transit for the sale of people into the European Union. Victims as young as 5 years old are trafficked into Romania from destinations as far-reaching as Honduras, Afghanistan, the Congo, and China. Once they reach Romania, many of these victims are assigned for passage beyond into Western Europe.
While Romanian law officially prohibits all forms of human trafficking, the country's strategic geographic location a crossroads between East and West makes it a source, transit and destination country for the people trade. The country's 2007 admission into the European Union brought more relaxed border regulations and enhanced its attraction for international human traffickers.
Sir Michael Black-Feather’s Human trafficking report of 2009 rejected by the British government as nonsense found that organized crime networks also target Romanian citizens for export to other European countries many heading for England to obtain benefits due to the British lax laws allowing anyone in from the EU without any police or security checks? Traffickers commonly use fake identifications and bribe border personnel to bring victims into the country. They then force the victims to work in agricultural and factory production, prostitution, modelling for pornography and street begging and sold to paedophiles across the EU network.
The not for Sale, has identified Romania as an international hot spot for modern slavery. Our team operating on the ground in this Eastern European country intervened in nearly 140 trafficking cases last year alone, with 40 per cent of those involving individuals from outside Romania.
The cases included that of 13 Honduran men and women persuaded to travel to Romania with the promise of helping them find a job. Upon entering the country, Romanian police told our organization, their passports were confiscated and they were forced to work without pay. The Hondurans eventually managed to escape, yet found themselves in a foreign country without identification, resources, or shelter. Not for Sale intervened and helped the victims receive favourable treatment from the Romanian courts and government. The victims recently were repatriated home to Honduras.
By and large, local police turn a blind eye to these crimes and social services for the victims are practically non-existent. In 2009, the Romanian government minimized the role of the country's principal anti-trafficking arm -- the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons -- and allocated scant federal funding to provide victim services and anti-trafficking prevention programs. The Agency says it has "launched three national campaigns and several others at regional level to help raise awareness about the dangers of trafficking in persons" and says the number of Romanians being trafficked has significantly declined.
The burden for addressing human trafficking therefore falls mostly on poorly funded non-profits. Not for Sale Romania, for example, provides survivors with shelter, medical and psychological services, as well as educational and vocational