On 19 March, MEPs and representatives from national parliaments met in Brussels to discuss the future agenda of civil liberties, justice and home affairs for 2020. The main issues addressed were the future of Europol, how to face the ongoing crisis in Mediterranean Sea, data protection, and the implementation of juridical cooperation for penal offences.
Europol has warned that international extortion of money links to trafficking of refugees is likely to be happening in many parts of the EU. Based on data collected through national law enforcement authorities, a Europol policy brief – jointly produced with the EEAS, Frontex and Sweden - reveals that Eritreans in Europe have been extorted for Eritrean victims held in Sinai by Organised Crime Groups. In March 2014 Europol Director Rob Wainwright stated that “Europol has issued a warning to all police forces in Europe that this form of international extortion may also be happening in their areas” and that “Europol is ready for coordinated action with Interpol to deal with the problem in Europe and the Sinai region.”
An emission called “Hölle Sinai”, the hell of Sinai, has been broadcasted on ARD, focusing on human trafficking in Sinai. The program presents the Eritrea as the North Korea of Africa and stresses that refugees feel they have little choice other than to flee the country. Many are abducted on their journey, taken to the Sinai where they are held and tortured in order to extract ransoms from their relatives. The statistics shows that people living in the region have more chances to be caught up in this human trafficking cycle than by terrorism, the principal preoccupation of the international community.
The 27th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) took place in Strasbourg from 17 to 19 March 2014. The session was quite intense and reflected the opportunities that offer this Assembly, but as well the divergences of the partners on sensible issues.
The governments of Egypt and Sudan are being urged to act against human traffickers involved in the abduction, torture and exploitation of refugees who are held hostage in Sinai. In a statement to the 25th session of UN Human Rights Council supported by 24 member states, German permanent representative Hanns H. Schumacher stated that "there is abundant evidence of Eritrean nationals being subjected to exploitation and violance, including sexual violence, in a most brutal, frequent and systematic way".