Push to resolve deadlock over human trafficking

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details Vol 7, No.10, 8.3.01, p6
Publication Date 08/03/2001
Content Type

Date: 08/03/01

By John Shelley

Diplomats say progress on plans to harmonise penalties will only be possible if ministers give the proposals a political push. The plans have been stuck in working groups since autumn last year because of disputes over the maximum prison sentence that member states should require for traffickers.

The current suggestion that governments should have to introduce a maximum penalty of at least six years is proving too harsh for some countries and too lenient for others.

Some member states are also worried that charitable groups which circumvent the law to bring genuine refugees into European countries could find themselves classed with professional gangs.

"At a political level it is unacceptable that we haven't been able to reach an agreement," said one diplomat.

The proposal was rushed out by the French presidency last year following the Dover tragedy in which 58 illegal Chinese immigrants suffocated to death in the back of a lorry while being smuggled into the UK.

The trial of Perry Wacker, the Dutch truck driver who is charged with conspiracy to smuggle the immigrants, is currently under way in the UK.

Justice ministers will try to break a months-long deadlock over common rules on prison sentences for crooks who smuggle illegal immigrants into the Union.

Subject Categories