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Parliamentary questions
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29 June 2016
Answer given by Ms Thyssen on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: P-004172/2016

The Commission is aware of reports on alleged violations of the human rights of citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) working abroad.

The Commission condemns forced labour and recalls the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which prohibits slavery, forced labour and trafficking in human beings for all forms of exploitation. The Charter also sets out the right of workers to working conditions which respect their health, safety and dignity.

The EU has developed an ambitious legal and policy framework against trafficking in human beings for all forms of exploitation(1) for which the level of compliance will be assessed in 2016.

In the EU and irrespectively of the status of EU or third-country national, the rules on working conditions, health and safety at work as well as legislation against trafficking in human beings apply. It is the responsibility of the national authorities to ensure that the rules are enforced. The Commission may launch infringement procedures in case of breach of Union law.

The use of ERDF(2) and ESF(3) funds must be consistent with the activities, policies and priorities of the Union, including the Charter. The Commission is in contact with the Member States to check possible irregularities. In the event of infringement of EC law by an economic operator, the Commission can make financial corrections by cancelling all or parts of the financial contribution to the programme.

Finally, all EU Member States have ratified and are accountable for the implementation of the 8 fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) including Conventions 29 and 105 on the prohibition of forced labour. The Commission supports the ILO's work with its Member States to raise awareness on and eliminate forced labour.

(1)Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5.4.2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, OJ L 101, 15.4.2011.
(2)European Regional Development Fund.
(3)European Social Fund.

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