The Government decided to set up a committee of Directors General to coordinate the fight against trafficking in persons.

(Communicated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice)

The Government decided on Sunday, 21 May 2006, to set up a committee of Directors General that will coordinate the fight against trafficking in persons. An interministerial coordinator will be appointed from the Justice Ministry. In addition, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, headed by Justice Minister Haim Ramon, decided to apply the continuity of proposed legislation principle to a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill proposed by the Government. Minister Ramon instructed that the bill be promoted as part of the international struggle against this criminal phenomenon.

The Government’s proposal, formulated jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and submitted by Tzipi Livni and Haim Ramon, aims to combat the widespread phenomenon of human trafficking of all kinds – sexual exploitation, organ dealing, slavery, etc.

The Government decided that the Directors General Trafficking Committee will be chaired by the Director General of the Justice Ministry and will include the Directors General of the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, and the Health Ministry, as well as the Inspector General of the Police and other senior officials.

The task of the new committee will be to coordinate government policy and activity regarding trafficking, including enforcement, victim protection and prevention programs, and will submit its recommendations to the Government.

It was also decided to appoint an interministerial coordinator from the Justice Ministry who will coordinate government programs and act as a liaison between the Government and extra-governmental bodies.

The Government decision is actually an expansion of a previous decision of 28 December 2003, which called for establishing a committee of Directors General and an interministerial coordinator to deal with the problem of trafficking for the purpose of prostitution.

Mr. Aaron Abramovich (former Director General of the Justice Ministry, who was appointed at Sunday’s cabinet meeting to be the new Director General of the Foreign Ministry) presented the Government’s activities in the area of trafficking. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised acting coordinator Attorney Rachel Gershoni of the Justice Ministry for her work combating trafficking for the purposes of prostitution. Gershoni received a citation from the US State Department for her anti-trafficking work.

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, headed by Justice Minister Haim Ramon, decided to apply the continuity of proposed legislation principle to the new, comprehensive anti-trafficking bill.

The bill, which was introduced by the Ministry of Justice, passed its first reading on 26 January 2006. The bill aims to provide tools to increase the effectiveness of the fight against trafficking for purposes of prostitution as well as organ dealing, sexual exploitation and slavery, and provide improved protection of its victims.

The bill also aims to bring Israeli legislation in line with international conventions that Israel has signed. The bill criminalizes trafficking in persons for any purpose, authorizes the courts to foreclose on property connected to the crime of trafficking in persons, and establishes various arrangements intended to protect victims of trafficking, such as conducting trials in camera.

In light of the importance of the matter, the Minister of Justice instructed that the bill be given top priority and that everything possible should be done in order to put it on the Knesset’s agenda immediately.

Minister Ramon stated at the Cabinet meeting, "The anti-trafficking bill fits in with the fight led by US President George Bush against this criminal phenomenon, and Israel will become part of international efforts combating trafficking in persons."