The U.S. Ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman says Romania must do more to combat human trafficking saying the current government was hampered by “a legacy of policies, corruption, and criminal networks,” from the previous administration.
Zuckerman spoke Friday after the release of the Congress’ Trafficking in Persons Report which has Romania on the tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year, “meaning the government has not sufficiently increased its efforts to combat human trafficking,” he said.
The report found that last year, under the former Social Democratic government “ anti-trafficking enforcement efforts were weakened, trafficking prosecutions and convictions decreased and care for victims was lacking.”
He said that after his arrival he met various ministers from the current government and “I strongly voiced the United States’ priorities supporting the rule of law and fighting human trafficking.”
“I am confident in this government’s commitment to eradicating this scourge from Romania, but they know they face a legacy of policies, corruption, and criminal networks that hinder their every move.”
“But more must be done….. Organized crime gangs have brazenly trafficked people knowing they would likely get away with it, as so many have in the past. Fortunately, the number of prosecutions has been steadily increasing. Protections for victims are also increasing.”
Earlier Friday, he met Interior Minister Marcel Vela, Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu, Prosecutor General Gabriela Scutea and interior ministry state secretary Bogdan Despescu.
He called on parliament to work with the government to pass legislation to “ swiftly prosecute these criminals and to seize the ill-gotten gains made by selling people to better protect the victims of trafficking.”
“Today, I proudly announce that in conjunction with Romanian police, law enforcement and prosecutors, we are embarking on a new zero-tolerance human trafficking program.”
“The United States pledges to use all of its available law-enforcement resources to help Romanian authorities end the disgrace of human trafficking. If you are a human trafficker, we will find you, we will arrest you and we will prosecute you.”
“There will be no safe haven for human traffickers – not in Romania, not in the United States, not in Europe, not anywhere. You will not be able to hide. It’s over!” he said.