The Czech-British Conference on Human Trafficking in Prague is a three-day event organised by the Czech Ministry of the Interior and British Embassy in Prague. The conference, which had its final day on Wednesday, is designed to spotlight issues relating to human trafficking. Klára Skřivánková is a Czech-born Advocacy Coordinator at the UK-based Anti-Slavery International. I asked her to describe the aims of the conference:
“It is a bilateral Czech-British conference focused on the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Basically, the aim is to talk about issues relating to cases of trafficking from the Czech Republic to the UK, and to talk about communication methods and improving collaboration and cooperation. It has been a very practical gathering, with assistance and participation by police authorities, prosecutors and the judiciary, as well as charity representatives from both countries.”
Is there a specific link then between Britain and the Czech Republic regarding this issue? Presumably the Czech Republic serves as a source for a considerable number of people trafficked into the United Kingdom.
“At present, with regards to countries of origin in the UK, the Czech Republic is in 12th place. In the past, it was even higher than that. My understanding is that from the perspective of the Czech Republic, Britain is a top destination country when it comes to Czech victims trafficked abroad. In terms of numbers, we are talking about around 140 people over the last four years. But these are only the people officially identified by the UK authorities. Obviously, the real number is likely to be much higher.”
What can individuals do to avoid falling victim?
“The advice to individuals to avoid getting into a situation of exploitation and being trafficked is: get information; have a written contract in your hand from employers. Also look at information such as the legal minimum wage in the UK; and calculate the living costs. For example, if you are promised an amount of money, pay heed to the fact that living costs in the UK can be quite high, so an income which may appear to be fantastic for the Czech Republic might actually not be enough to sustain you in the UK.
“Also, things like keep your passport with you, and don’t ever give it to anybody else. And know where to go for help should something go wrong. In the Czech Republic, a fantastic organization called La Strada runs a helpline for people to get information and the necessary contact details before they travel abroad.”
And what can the Czech government do to battle trafficking?
“When it comes to the Czech government, I think this conference serves as a very practical example in terms of making sure this issue is addressed. It isn’t merely a question of having laws and action plans, but also about making sure that strategies are properly implemented.”