European and Asia-Pacific Perspectives
Edited by Leslie Holmes
Chapter 4: People Smuggling and Human Trafficking Within, from and through Central and Eastern Europe
Leslie Holmes The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was initially accompanied by a widespread belief that a wonderful new era was dawning, in which people throughout Europe would be freer and more prosperous than ever.1 The subsequent reality has been rather different. While some citizens have indeed prospered, others have lost out in the transition. One ramification of this has been a rise of organised and transnational crime in Europe since the beginning of the 1990s. A particularly sad aspect of this development has been a marked increase in the number of people trafficked both domestically and to other countries and forced into servitude, most commonly in the sex industry. The growth in human trafficking has serious negative implications not only for the people directly involved – other than the criminals themselves – but also for the populations more generally in virtually every European country. This chapter provides an overview of human trafficking, primarily within, from and through post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), which is here very broadly understood to include the Soviet successor states that comprise the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); analysis of the reasons for this; a brief summary of some of the various measures being taken to counter this phenomenon; and speculation on likely future scenarios. It also includes survey results from four European states – two in CEE, two in Western Europe – on attitudes towards people smuggling. It will be argued that, while there are some signs of improvement in the region, any optimism...
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