Readers will be shocked to learn that one million children go missing every year in Europe.
This week marks International Missing Children’s Day and we all have a moral duty to do everything we can to help protect children across Europe.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights states that it is a right of every child to be protected from harm. Every child has the right to grown up in a safe and secure environment.
I am a supporter of AMBER Alert, an organisation calling for child alert systems to be set up in all EU countries to help share vital information with the public as quickly as possible.
It is estimated that around 14,000 children were reported missing in the East Midlands in 2012-2013. Local Police services throughout the East Midlands support the UK’s child alert system and I would like to see co-ordination throughout the EU.
The Missing People Choir hope that their charity single will reach number 1 this week to coincide with International Missing Children’s Day. The single highlights the stories of
Madeleine McCann who disappeared in Portugal and Ben Needham who disappeared from Greece.
Tracking down children who may have crossed borders is vital and I support the increased collaboration with authorities. We need to work together to protect children and I will continue to campaign for further action.
Stephen Fry is leading the UK campaign to encourage people to sign up to the Child Rescue Alert system. This is supported by Missing People UK and readers can sign up at www.childrescuealert.org.uk to receive alerts.
I hope that people in the East Midlands will sign up to the campaign and that child protection agencies, the authorities, politicians and the public can work together across the EU to ensure that every child is protected.
A British human rights campaigner, Andy Hall, is facing up to 7 years in a Thai prison for raising instances of modern slavery in Thailand. Labour MEPs have been calling for all charges against Andy to be dropped immediately and for the Thai authorities to respect the rights of human rights defenders in Thailand.
Andy has fought to protect human rights in South East Asia for the past 10 years and took part in key research which documented the dreadful treatment of migrant workers in a large Thai company. With four separate charges, countless appeals, demands for false confessions and reports of witness intimidation Labour MEPs and the TUC continue to call for this harassment to end.
Andy Hall said:
“I am confident that the criminal court system in Thailand will deliver justice in this case. Researching migrant worker conditions in global supply chains across Thailand is not and should not be a crime.”
East Midlands MEP, Glenis Willmott, said:
“I can’t believe that Andy’s trial has got this far. Andy has rightly highlighted the dreadful treatment of some migrant workers and the treatment that he has been subjected to by the Thai authorities is completing unacceptable.
“Labour MEPs have highlighted Andy’s plight in European Parliament and to the Thai Ambassador. We have called on the Thai authorities to end this harassment immediately.
“Human rights are top of the EU agenda and we will continue to call for decent working rights for all workers across the globe.”
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said:
“The continuing prosecution of Andy Hall, without effective protest from the British government, makes a mockery of the British & Thai governments’ claims to support human rights in global supply chains.
“This baseless judicial harassment of a human rights defender is continuing only to discourage others from standing up for justice in Thailand’s exploitative workplaces. It should be stopped now, or it will leave a permanent stain on the reputation of Thailand’s businesses.”
Andy Hall added:
“This case is just another example of unacceptable judicial harassment of rights activists that remains far too prevalent in Thailand and across the region. Activists and researchers must be free to speak out in the face of serious rights violations without fear of prosecution or even imprisonment.”
This week, Labour MEPs voted to strengthen Europol, the EU wide law enforcement agency. The new rules will enhance the investigatory powers of Europol, making it easier to set up specialised units to react to emerging threats, while also increasing transparency and data protection standards.
Europol has the structures in place to fight crime and terrorism, and a great track record. At the beginning of this month, Europol supported Portuguese Police in breaking up a Russian organised crime group, and last month, the FBI and Europol signed a co-operation agreement that will see the agencies working together to identify foreign terrorist fighters.
Not only does Europol have an impressive record, it also has British talent at the top with Director Rob Wainwright, a former Police and Intelligence Officer from the UK.
Wainwright has made clear the how important EU co-operation is in fighting crime and terrorism, stating that a Brexit would make it harder to keep the UK safe.
Meanwhile, the Leave campaign think they know better. Boris Johnson, hardly a renowned expert on crime and terrorism, reckons that we’d be better going it alone.
This is the same Boris who has been driving around the UK in a German bus on his ‘Leave EU’ tour this week – it took a matter of hours for someone to work out that the same bus would cost thousands more with the weak pound and more expensive fuel that would follow a Brexit vote…
I know who I’ll be listening to!
We’ve seen certain members of the Leave campaign become increasingly hostile to anyone who questions them, but this referendum could be the most important vote in our lifetimes, and people deserve to hear the facts.
So far, the Director of Europol, 13 former US secretaries of state and defence, five former NATO Secretaries-General and British military leaders – including three former Chiefs of the Defence Staff – have warned that to leave the EU would be to gamble with our security
When qualified and experienced intelligence and military experts are talking about how important the EU is for our security, we should be paying attention.
Aside from co-operation through Europol, thousands of criminals, including terrorists, have been arrested under another EU initiative – the European Arrest Warrant. The arrest warrant has made it quicker and easier to bring criminals to justice, an important tool in our fight against crime in Europe.
Our EU membership is fundamentally linked to our security, and this is just one of the reasons Labour will be campaigning to Remain in the EU on the 23rd June.
A local Euro MP has table a resolution to the European Parliament calling for all meat and dairy products to be labelled with their country of origin.
Under EU rules, it’s already mandatory to label most fresh meat with the country of origin. Now Labour MEP Glenis Willmott has called for this to be extended to processed meat, milk and dairy products.
Dame Glenis Willmott MEP, East Midlands MEP and Labour’s European Food Spokesperson said:
“This is something Labour MEPs have been campaigning on for a long time.
“We know it’s important to consumers: 90% say they think processed meat should be labelled with the country of origin and 84% would like this labelling for milk.
“It’s about clear, honest labelling that doesn’t mislead consumers. So if a lasagne is labelled as a British product, that should mean the meat in it came from the UK. At the moment, food producers can include this information voluntarily but the variety of different schemes can be confusing.
“But it’s also about enabling consumers to make informed decisions about where their food has come from, whether that’s for environmental reasons or out of concern for animal welfare.”
“This campaign has broad support in the UK, including from the Women’s Institute, the National Farmers’ Union and from consumer group, Which? People increasingly want to buy local and support our national farmers, and country of origin labelling would help them to do this.
“I’m delighted this resolution was supported by MEPs and hope we will soon see legislation to put this into action.”