Austria Asks Facebook To Fight Human Trafficking

Austria’s Chancellor has called on Facebook to stop human traffickers using the social media platform to entice migrants to come to Europe.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP) has now demanded that Facebook take action against human trafficking.

The Chancellor, who at the age of 32 is the youngest head of state in the world, said that the social media giant has to tackle the “lies of traffickers” on Facebook which are used to lure migrants into undertaking the hazardous journey to Europe.

Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl

Kurz said: “Especially social media like Facebook have a big responsibility here. Many people worldwide fall for the lies of the traffickers, be it in the Middle East, Africa or Central America, and pay thousands of Euros and risk their lives on dangerous crossings, such as in the Mediterranean.

“We can no longer close our eyes to that.”

Chancellor Kurz also demanded Facebook investigate claims that groups on the platform are widely used to trade fake documents among migrants and human traffickers.

Kurz said: “If these allegations prove true, then Facebook is obliged to fight against illegal document trading. Our goal must be to tackle traffickers on social media and break their business model.”

Kurz said the European Union (EU) should take the lead in pressuring Facebook to fight the online activities of human traffickers.

Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache

The Austrian government, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU, which is rotated among member states every six months, has made it a priority to discuss the migration crisis at the European level.

Austria’s right-wing government has launched a campaign against human trafficking, with Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) saying last week that migrants who used the services of human traffickers should have their asylum application automatically rejected.

Since assuming office on 18th December 2017, Chancellor Kurz and his FPO coalition partners have introduced strict anti-immigration measures and slashed benefits for new arrivals into the country.

Another recent measure proposed by the Austrian Government is a plan to seize migrants’ cash upon arrival in the country which will go towards their initial care.

The tightening of asylum laws also includes the power to confiscate asylum seekers’ mobile phones which would allow investigators to access the phone’s geodata to determine their origin and exact journey.

Story By: Koen BerghuisSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

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