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The victims of human trafficking in Europe soar




The number of victims of human trafficking identified in Europe has almost doubled in the last few years and it is feared that the actual data are even more serious, warned the Group of Experts on action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), Council of Europe in presenting his annual report on Friday. In full epidemic of coronavirus, the agency with headquarters in Strasbourg, as the United Nations, claiming specifically that they don’t forget these people, they have to have the same access to protection and care that the rest of the population.

According to the data collected, between 2015 and 2018, an increase of 44% (15.310 victims in 2018, compared to 10.598 three years before) in the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe, which urges Governments to make “more efforts” to combat this scourge.

“The hidden nature of human trafficking and the fact that we found problems in the identification process in many countries suggests that the real figure of victims could be much higher,” he said about the president of GRETA, Davor Derenčinović. “It is crucial that the relevant authorities increase their efforts to combat this illegal practice and provide help and support to victims”, he added in a statement.

This urgency redoubles in times in which, because of the epidemic of coronavirus, many countries have retreated and ordered containment measures inaccessible to many victims of human trafficking.

“In addition to having suffered a psychological trauma and physical injuries, many of these women, men and children lack means of subsistence, and might be in a situation of migration or labour spot, without medical protection or social, and without documents or resources to be able to return to their countries,” recalls GRETA. “During the pandemic of the Covid-19, your situation can only deteriorate, and criminals could take advantage of this global crisis and to exploit the vulnerability to increase the benefits generated by the human trafficking”, he warns.

A concern shared by the UN rapporteurs for migrants, the chilean Felipe González, and human trafficking, Maria Grazia giammarinaro as the.

“Migrants in an irregular situation, asylum-seekers and people exploited and victims of trafficking may be especially in danger Covid-19 because their work environment or of life might expose them to the virus without having the necessary protection”, warn in a joint statement from Geneva.

According to the rapporteurs, Governments should “take measures to ensure that each individual in its territory, regardless of their immigration status, have access to health care, to be able to achieve a containment of the Covid-19”. In this sense, applaud the decision of “some States” to ensure rights of temporary residence, as he had done Portugal to regularize all migrants pending authorization of residence.

The rapporteurs also call for an “automatic extension for at least six months for all programs of protection and assistance to migrants in vulnerable situations and victims of human trafficking whose expiry date is closest, to ensure the continuity of the processes of social inclusion” of these persons.

Both during the epidemic and when this is overcome, the experts of the Council of Europe insist, for their part, member states must intensify their efforts to identify and protect victims of human trafficking. Especially, they note that two of the “biggest gaps” in the implementation of the Convention against Human Trafficking, signed 12 years ago, they are both the identification of child victims of human trafficking, such as measures to protect them.

Among the measures to improve in general, the experts of GRETA point to the lack of a suitable period of “recovery and reflection” for the victims, in addition to failures in its identification and the obstacles they face to obtain compensation. Similarly, the Council of Europe considered “unsatisfactory” the process to the traffickers. In too many countries, the rate of judicial procedures against those responsible for human trafficking is “low” and the penalties imposed are “not sufficiently dissuasive”.

On the positive side, GRETA notes “some improvements” in the implementation of the Convention, as the growing number of countries that prevent the conviction of victims of trafficking forced to commit illegal acts or the growing number of Governments that criminalize the use of services of these victims.

Global Economy

The Spanish company that spied on Assange investigated whether he had been father during his confinement in London




The actor and friend of Julian Assange, Stephen Hoo, entering the ecuadorian embassy with one of the sons of Assange that was passed through his, in a video capture of 2017.

The espionage to which he was subjected, the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, by the Spanish company security Undercover Global SL during his confinement of seven years in the Embassy of Ecuador in London included their most intimate relationships. We watched all the visits you received during your stay and we investigated the possibility that it had been a parent during the running of the bulls, one of their biggest secrets, and as now has just revealed its partner, the lawyer Stella Morris. The an ex military man David Morales, owner of the security company, is being investigated by a court of the National court for spying on the meetings of Assange with his legal counsel and deliver supposedly this material to the CIA.

In English

The suspected Morales was a minor who entered the Embassy of Ecuador in London hanging in a backpack baby carrier charged by the actor Stephen Hoo could be the son of the cyberactivist (48 years old) and Morris (37 years old), for what was recorded during all of your visits to the legation diplomatic. Morales came to ordering the theft of the diaper to analyze the feces, and be able to clarify their research, even though later was not necessary the removal of the remains. Were also reports about his mother and about Hoo, the friend of the couple who came to visit the founder of Wikileaks with the baby, according to videos and documents which had access THE COUNTRY.

An employee of the Spanish company warned the lawyer of the intentions of Moral: “they Wanted to prove that it was his son to try to harm him. They came to talk with three laboratories of Madrid to see how they could prove the theme parental. One of the laboratories told us that the stools could not obtain the DNA. Then he tried to get his pacifier,” explains a extrabajador of Undercover Global SL.

A company report about the visits of Stephen Hoo, dated October 27, 2017, is an example of the obsession of Morales and his team for unveiling the best kept secret of the cyberactivist and know the most intimate details of his personal life during his confinement in the ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The document is entitled Usual visit of the guest (Assange) with a baby and he emphasises that his friend Hoo whenever you go to the Embassy with a minor “who claims to be his own security team”, and that had not been identified “for being under age.” The editor of the text he noted that they have unsuccessfully requested a document certifying the identity of the child and stresses that after the actor always appears Stella Morris, “which arrives minutes before and up minutes after Stephen Hoo, when usually it stays during the day with the guest and even spends entire nights with them”. After the notice of the worker to Morris, the visits of the baby ended.

“Stella Morris arrives at the Hotel (the embassy) to 13.49 and up-to 16.11 while Stephen Hoo arrives at 14.06 and up-to 15.56 on the 25th of November,” the report details, in the enclosed two photographs of Hoo entering the hall of the embassy and carrying in a sling to one of the sons of Assange. Then, it describes details about the actor picked up from the british press, and speculates with the idea that it is not the father of the child.

And finally concludes: “On the basis of the information related to the possibility that the host (Assange) has been able to be a father during his confinement in the Embassy, and the recent visits that we are getting this baby the same, always accompanied by Stella Morris, raised the possibility that due to the emotional ties that it maintains with the host, does not rule out that the baby might have some kind of relationship between the two. Even so we can not confirm with the data obtained from this to be so, so that we continue to work on obtaining evidence that might give us a result more successful”.

Morris, who has declared that intend to marry Assange, just to reveal the secret of who is the mother of two children with Assange to british newspaper Mail on Sunday after you’ve done it before the judge who ordered the provisional release of the cyberactivist with the argument of their family roots. Since his expulsion from the embassy, Assange remains a prisoner in a jail in london. The US demands his extradition for 18 alleged crimes that raise the penalties up to 178 years in prison.

Morales was arrested last October, is on probation and is being investigated for alleged offences against privacy, against the secrecy of the communications, attorney-client, misappropriation, bribery and money laundering. The investigation was ordered by the judge José de la Mata and began weeks after THE COUNTRY revealed the videos, audios and reports which show that this company, based in Jerez de la Frontera spied the meetings of the Wikileaks founder with his lawyers and co-workers.

Due to the exceptional circumstances, THE COUNTRY is offering free of charge to all their digital content. The information related to the coronavirus will remain open for the duration of the severity of the crisis.

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Global Economy

U.S. bank earnings suggest coronavirus-driven rough patch for earnings of Canadian lenders




Canada’s biggest banks are right in the thick of a tough quarter, judging by the rocky results their American cousins are posting this week.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. all reported big drops in earnings for the three months ended March 31, as the lenders were forced to set aside piles of cash in case consumers and businesses are forced to default on their loans because of the coronavirus crisis.

The parallel isn’t perfect, but the biggest U.S. lenders can herald what’s to come for Canada’s Big Six. All of the largest Canadian banks have operations south of the border, and the trends in the results from JPMorgan, the biggest bank in the U.S., are “also very relevant to the Canadian marketplace,” National Bank Financial analyst Gabriel Dechaine wrote Tuesday.

“We expect to see similar outcomes in terms of credit performance, margin compression, trading revenue generation and loan growth” in Canada, Dechaine wrote in a report. “On the latter item, we are hearing of the same trend in Canada.”

Like their counterparts in the U.S., Canadian banks are facing interest rates that have been lowered to essentially zero, squeezing what they can charge for loans. Customers are also losing their jobs, threatening their ability to keep up with debt payments.

Still, loans have been growing, with JPMorgan’s corporate clients borrowing more than US$50 billion from existing lines of credit as the crisis ramped up and companies scrambled to get cash. Growing loan balances could mean more revenue from interest payments on those loans, but during the current crisis, the ability of some borrowers to repay has suddenly come under threat because of the closure of non-essential businesses and a drop in consumer demand.

Banks must also hold a certain amount of capital relative to the size of their loans, and set money aside for possible losses.

JPMorgan reported provisions for credit losses of almost US$8.3 billion for its first quarter, which included US$6.8 billion to further build up its reserves. For the same quarter of 2019, the bank’s credit costs had been about US$1.5 billion, with the additional money socked away this quarter reflecting “deterioration in the macro-economic environment as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and continued pressure on oil prices,” the lender said.

If the biggest bank in the U.S. feels the need to set aside a massive amount of money to cushion the blow of the COVID-19 recession, then Canada’s banks likely will too, as their accounting similarly requires earmarking funds for expected loan losses. Those expectations are influenced by the economic outlook.

“So you can take a look at the U.S. banks and say, ‘this is a roadmap for what the Canadian banks are going to have to put up in similar fashion,’” Barclays analyst John Aiken said in an interview.

Exactly how much Canada’s banks will have to set aside could vary given the uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic and the recession. But credit provisions are “the biggest swing factor in bank earnings,” Aiken said, because they can be big and there is no offset for them. Items such as trading revenue do have offsets, though, such as bonuses paid to stock and bond traders.

“The benefit they receive from trading is not going to be enough to stabilize earnings,” Aiken said.

It is very likely we will see a rise in bankruptcies and a permanent decline in economic activity and a prolonged increase in unemployment

Charles St-Arnaud, chief economist, Alberta Central

Big Canadian banks will report results in May for the quarter covering February, March and April, meaning there is likely to be a heavier COVID-19 influence on the results than those of the U.S. banks, which still booked profits. Canadian households and businesses were also carrying a relatively higher level of debt going into the crisis.

“As such, it is very likely we will see a rise in bankruptcies and a permanent decline in economic activity and a prolonged increase in unemployment,” wrote Charles St-Arnaud, chief economist at Alberta Central, the central banking facility and trade association for the province’s credit unions, in a report published Wednesday.

Nevertheless, the expectation is that the large Canadian lenders will be able to weather the storm, even if their near-term profits take a hit. The Bank of Canada said in the monetary policy report it released on Wednesday that the stress-testing it does on the big lenders shows they are “well positioned” to ride out a sharp economic and financial downturn.

Canadian regulators are also giving banks a break when it comes to deferred loan payments, which the lenders are granting to customers facing financial hardship during the pandemic. Those deferrals could keep borrowers from defaulting on their obligations.

While there is going to be an increase in loan-loss allowances, “I don’t think it’s going to be the fire and brimstone that some investors may be envisioning,” Aiken said.

The payment deferrals are similar to what the banks did with energy companies in the wake of the shock to oil prices five years ago, Aiken said. At that time, the lenders worked with the borrowers to rejig their arrangements, ultimately allowing the banks to recover some losses for which they had initially provisioned when oil prices rose again.

“They do not want to put companies and individuals into bankruptcy, because they’re just going to be stuck with assets that they don’t want to manage,” Aiken said.

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Protests in Poland, because of the attempt to approve two controversial laws on full confinement




Polish women protest this Tuesday in Krakow against the debate in the Parliament of the laws on abortion and sex education.AGENCJA GAZETA / Reuters

The ultraconservatives poles have decided to bring this week to the plenary of the Congress by two controversial bills on abortion and sex education parked for a long time. In full pandemic of the Covid-19, which keeps the citizens confined and prevents the organization of protests, meps are expected to discuss this Wednesday and Thursday if you further limit access to lawful termination of pregnancy is currently allowed only in three cases, and if you penalize those who provide notions of sex education among minors. Civil organizations and deputies from across Europe warn that the Government’s Law and Justice party (PiS) take advantage of the pandemic to limit the sexual and reproductive rights of women, as well as to promote the misinformation among young people. The initiative has sparked protests on social networks and even honks in the street. The term to discuss both proposals, belonging to the previous legislature, expired now, six months after the constitution of Parliament.

The initiative of the organization Stop Abortion had blocked in the Congress since march of 2018, when the demonstrations of thousands of women made back to the Executive ultracatólico leading in the shadow of the former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Currently, the Polish law is one of the most restrictive in Europe, behind Malta, San Marino and Andorra, where abortion is illegal in all cases. The country only allows termination of pregnancy if this is a product of rape or incest, if the mother’s life is in danger or if the fetus suffers malformations or irreversible disease. The project aims to modify the provisions of the Family Planning act 1993 and to remove this last assumption. “In practice, 98% of legal abortions in Poland are performed for fetal abnormalities serious,” says the International Federation of Family Planning in Europe in a press release made public this Tuesday. From Brussels, his spokesperson Irene Donadio explained by phone that the reform “does not have the support of the majority of the population” and believes that the PiS has chosen this moment to discuss it because “the people are locked at home and cannot go out to protest.”

In the same line is expressed Marta Lempart, a member of the feminist movement for a National Strike of Women, the instigator of the demonstrations against the draft law. The activist account that, despite the prohibitions have found a way to make their voice heard. “We have organized today a protest from the cars, we paste banners on the shops open and do actions on the Internet,” he says.

The second draft law that aims to discuss the Congress contemplates punishing with up to five years imprisonment to those who “promote sexual activity among minors”. The initiative was driven also by an association of pro-life and in practice seeks to ban sex education in schools. The text entered in the Parliament in October and sparked numerous protests.

170 parliamentarians from 24 countries of Europe members of the European Parliamentary forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights have been expressed in a statement urgent its deep concern about both proposals. In her “urge the Polish Parliament to respect the right of women to make autonomous decisions about their own bodies and reproductive functions” and “condemn the change to the misinformation of young people, and the stigmatization and prohibition of the sex education”.

For her part, Hillary Margolis, senior researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, has warned in a press release “the chaos and anxiety surrounding the Covid-19” should not be used as distraction to “boost legislation and dangerous.”

The country has, to date recorded over 7,000 cases and 251 deaths per coronavirus, is scheduled to hold the first round of the presidential elections next may 10. The Congress approved a week ago the universal voting by mail in a move which the Government justifies as a way of safeguarding the health of citizens, while the opposition and more than two-thirds of poles are in favour of postponing the elections.

Due to the exceptional circumstances, THE COUNTRY is offering free of charge to all their digital content. The information related to the coronavirus will remain open for the duration of the severity of the crisis.

Dozens of journalists working tirelessly for lead the coverage is more rigorous and comply with their public service mission. If you want to support our journalism, you can do so here for 1 Euro the first month (from June 10 euros). Subscribe to the facts.


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