Sunday, January 29

European alert against the exploitation of Ukrainian refugees


Spanish police forces share information with the police in the rest of the European Union and Moldova on vulnerabilities, crime and surveillance of the Ukrainian war refugee contingent who has left his country and spread across the continent. The purpose is to prevent the action of the mafias that traffic in women and minors for sexual exploitation, as well as the networks of slave labor traffickers.

To do this they will activate an extraordinary mechanism of Europol, the Empact organized crime intelligence network. Its initials correspond to the name European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats. Its activation implies the mobilization of resources not only from Europol, but also from Frontex information agents and the Cepol Police School.

Activating the Empact was one of the agreements reached this Monday at the meeting of the Council of Interior Ministers in Brussels, which this newspaper has reported. The Spanish Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaskadefended in that forum the need to “fight in a coordinated manner against all criminal phenomena that may take advantage of the Ukrainian crisis”.

After the first month of war, there are many alerts in Europe about the risk of committing crimes against refugees, including specific warnings of Attempts to recruit – seduced or by force – Ukrainian women displaced. At the Valencia train station the phenomenon became apparent on March 18. Two newly arrived refugees among a group of 90 displaced people were approached by a woman posing as a Red Cross volunteer, who tried to take them away.

Specific study

The 27 countries of the EU will try to draw up a common protocol of anti-crime intelligence to protect Ukrainians, after having also obtained “an extraordinary commitment from Moldova” to send the Union’s partners their police information on the contingent. A specific study on the security problems of Ukrainian refugees will lead to what Europol agents call PAO (Operational Action Plan) and also, in the coming days, an instruction from the Secretary of State for Security to the Spanish police forces.

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The development of this order will include, at the operational level, special surveillance of Ukrainian aggressors seeking Ukrainian victims. In fact, according to the sources consulted, the crimes of trafficking and exploitation of a certain national group usually have as perpetrators the compatriots of the victims. However, in Spain -fourth European recipient of Ukrainian emigrants125,000, in what Grande-Marlaska calls “the first diaspora” of that country- the Ukrainian colony is, of those in Eastern Europe, the one that shows the least incidence of crime.

Interior has a direct line with the Ukrainian deputy minister Mary Hakovyan, who was key in the evacuation of the Spanish embassy in kyiv

The anti-trafficking units of the Police and the Civil Guard are already deployed at border crossings and transport nodes, as this newspaper advanced. Last year, the specialists of these two police forces carried out 409 operations, with a balance of 716 detainees and 738 women released, Interior sources report.

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The Spanish ministry has “continuous contact”, say the same ministerial sources, with the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid for security details, for example, such as supervising the arrival of unaccompanied minors. Validation of the diplomatic legation is requested in each case.

There is also, whenever possible, a direct link with the Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Ukrainian government, Mary Hakovian. The number two of the department was a key figure for the Ukrainian security forces to open a corridor to the convoy that evacuated the embassy of Spain in kyiv on February 24, the day the Russian invasion of the country began.

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