Human trafficking is, in essence, a contemporary form of slavery, President Klaus Iohannis told the "Human Trafficking: New Path of Cooperation and Achievement" conference on Thursday.
He stressed in this context that Romania and the United States "share a commitment to democracy, a lasting strategic relationship, as well as a desire to face common challenges and threats."
"Such a challenge, which is a common concern of our countries, is the fight against human trafficking, one of the most severe forms of crime and a serious violation of human rights. Given that today we mark International Human Rights Day, I welcome this extremely important debate," said the head of state, in the message that was presented at the event by presidential adviser Laurentiu Stefan.
According to the head of state, human trafficking affects women, men and children alike, and victims are often exposed to multiple forms of exploitation.
"It is, in essence, a contemporary form of slavery. The current pandemic has worsened the situation of victims of human trafficking. Disinformation campaigns have multiplied and contributed to creating an insecure environment for them. Against the background of this complex context, the victims are exposed to increased forms of exploitation and violence," the president showed.
He drew attention to the "alarming" increase in international cooperation between human traffickers.
"Romania and the United States are convinced that the prevention of human trafficking, the protection of its victims and the prosecution of those guilty require concerted and vigorous action by countries of origin, transit or destination, as well as international organizations. Romania is determined to adopt concrete measures and actions to combat human trafficking and impose a climate of zero tolerance for such abominable acts, while our country has been and will continue to be involved in the development of international, multilateral and bilateral instruments to prevent to further combat human trafficking," Iohannis said.
The head of state reminded that Romania has undertaken a series of landmark actions in the last year, demonstrating the commitment of the Romanian Government in combating human trafficking.
"These actions are part of Romania's general effort to consolidate a resilient democracy, built on the rule of law and respect for human rights, becoming a common priority of all Romanian institutions. In this sense, the Executive, the Justice system and Parliament can and have to work together, including with the civil society and our international and European partners. The national mechanisms and formats that have been created to address this phenomenon have shown promising results. Such an example is the work of the Commission tasked with monitoring the implementation of the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, as well as with the preparation and implementation of multi-party interinstitutional action plans," highlighted Klaus Iohannis.
He appreciated that "Romania's efforts and growing progress this year are undeniable and have been publicly recognized by the US Administration."
"The number of prosecutions has steadily increased. The protection of victims is also improving. Romania will take coherent measures to ensure that this progress is resilient and irreversible. In its efforts to prevent human trafficking, protect victims and prosecute its perpetrators, Romania has always had a strong partner in the United States. The US Embassy in Bucharest has been and continues to be a catalyst for our bilateral cooperation and an active contributor to our joint efforts," Iohannis further conveyed in his message.
In this sense, the President voiced his appreciation for the Romania-US Strategic Partnership in the field.