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Zero tolerance approach to people smuggling 

The Minister for Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has presented the #trabajoforzoso campaign by the Guardia Civil to combat people trafficking for forced labour.

This project seeks to prevent and essentially raise social awareness about this “tough reality” that “we must encou-rage people to report and demonstrate a clear intole-rance towards”, said the Spanish minister.

In his speech, Fernando Grande-Marlaska stressed that those who ignore people’s employment rights “will be persecuted and prosecuted” and that the State law enforcement agencies will apply the same “commitment” as they do to eradicating gender-based violence or people trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes.

The #trabajoforzoso cam-paign seeks to raise social awareness about a criminal activity that, according to the International Labour Organisa-tion, affects 16 million people in areas as diverse as domestic work, construction and farm-ing. This figure rises to 25 million if sexual exploitation and forced begging are included. Excluding sexual exploitation, 58% of these victims of forced labour are women and girls.

Fernando Grande-Marlas-ka stressed that Spain has made various international commitments to deal with people trafficking. Specifically, he said that the Protocol to the Forced Labour Con-vention adopted in Geneva (Switzerland) in 2014 came into force in Spain on 20 September 2018 after it was ratified by the Spanish authorities. According to the minister, this instrument “requires us” to adopt effec-tive ways to identify, free and protect the victims of forced labour.

In this regard, the Spanish minister said that this cam-paign by the Guardia Civil is in line with the recent commitment made by Spain, while arguing that “the vast majority” of employers in Spain respect the interests of their employees.

*Since 2011, the Spanish Guardia Civil has carried out a total of 12,804 actions against forced labour and people trafficking for forced labour, has informed more than 80,000 people about their rights and arrested 763 people, of whom 521 were foreign citizens (approximately 70%). It has also freed 1,794 victims, of whom 1,716 were foreign citizens (95%).

In 2018, and in coordination with the Employment Inspectorate, it carried out 732 inspections on premises where labour exploitation, forced labour or people traffi-cking was suspected and helped or informed 3,141 people who were working there about their rights.

In terms of criminal investi-gations, and in coordination with the judicial authorities and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, 47 operations were carried out in 2018 leading to 113 arrests for offences related to people trafficking and forced labour.