Saudi Arabian Counter Trafficking Officials Visit Belgium

Brussels - From 9 until 14 October 2015, IOM facilitated a study visit for a high-level delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Belgium. The delegation learned from Belgium’s experiences and shared best practices on combating human trafficking in Europe and the Middle East.  Belgium is both a destination and transit country for victims of trafficking for forced labour and the sex industry, partly due to its geographical location. It has prosecuted a significant number of traffickers and has identified and assisted a large number of victims. Of 432 prosecutions brought, 42% related to trafficking for forced labour, and 45.3% to sex trafficking.

Belgium is also seen as a pioneer in the field of comprehensive protection for victims of trafficking and combatting human trafficking. The 3-day visit, from 12-14 October, included meetings with key Belgian counterparts, including the Immigration Office, Federal Police, Ministry of Justice and Coordination Platform against Trafficking, the NGO Pag-Asa and the Federal Migration Center ‘Myria.’

The Saudi delegation included officials from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labor, the Human Rights Commission/Department of Counter-Trafficking, the Investigation and General Prosecution Department and the Public Security Department. Fahad Qahtani of the Human Rights Commission welcomed the first day of the visit: “Saudi Arabia has come a long way in counter-trafficking efforts in terms of law and institutions. We are now entering in the area of international cooperation with different countries, regions and international organizations to strengthen our capacities in the field. We are looking forward to more cooperation with IOM in different areas of concern, especially in counter-trafficking,” he said.

IOM, in turn, affirms its commitment to pursue its cooperation with Saudi authorities in the fight against human trafficking. Building upon similar activities within the PAVE (Protect and Assist Vulnerable and Exploited Migrant Workers in the Middle East and North Africa) project, the visit will promote discussion and exchange on best practices for prosecuting trafficking cases, identifying victims of trafficking and exploited migrant workers, direct assistance and victim referrals. It will also lead to improved future coordination.

For further information, please contact Vernesa Music at IOM Belgium and Luxembourg, Tel. +32 2 287 74 31: Email: vmusic@iom.int. Or Dr. Khalid Takhayneh at IOM Riyadh, Tel. +966 58 222 7898, Email: ktakhayneh@iom.int