Needs Assessment Research: The Regional Counter Trafficking Situation in the Western Balkans

Date Publish: 
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Closing ceremony of the IOM regional project:

Needs Assessment Research: The Regional Counter Trafficking Situation in the Western Balkans

On September 22nd 2014, Mr. Mladen Ćavar, Acting Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Mr. Ruggero Corrias, Ambassador of Italy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Mr. Gianluca Rocco, IOM Sub-Regional Coordinator for Western Balkans held a press conference to present the closure of the IOM regional project Needs Assessment Research: The Regional Counter Trafficking Situation in the Western Balkans. The press conference took place in the building of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly in Sarajevo. In addition, Mr. Anh Nguyen, Regional Migrant Assistance Specialist from IOM regional office in Vienna, presented the final report and findings of the research.

The abovementioned IOM project was implemented in the Western Balkans region (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo*, Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and aimed at conducting a comprehensive analysis of the counter-trafficking situation and assessing the region's current needs. The project wanted to generate the necessary platform to improve the legislation, national and cross-border programs addressing the issue of human trafficking in the region. It has been financed by IOM and complemented by funds of the Government of Italy through the Embassy in Sarajevo.

The following listed activities have been conducted in the framework of the project. Empowerment methods have been included to involve stakeholders and actors in the activities to identify and target the most crucial and important gaps and challenges to address, as well as strengths and assets acknowledged.

  1. A desk review of current legislation, official government strategies/action plans, key policies and programmes relevant for counter trafficking, and regional cooperation agreements related to counter trafficking issues.
  2. A comparative analysis of local/national/governmental statistics relating to identified victims of trafficking with externally-sourced statistics, including those gathered by European Institutions and EU Member States relating to the victims of trafficking identified from, or having transited, the Western Balkan region; especially in relation to the referral mechanisms (e.g. Transnational Referral Mechanisms) from EU Member States to Western Balkan countries.
  3. Quantitative and qualitative surveys developed to specific target groups (e.g. relevant government officials, civil society representatives and beneficiaries of existing programs) will be conducted online to identify and benefit victims of trafficking.
  4. In-depth interviews with government officials, representatives of civil society organizations that work with victims of trafficking, and potential and actual victim of trafficking beneficiaries identified.
  5. Presentation of the research findings and tentative list of conclusions and recommendations at a regional validation workshop for stakeholders, policy makers and actors from the Western Balkan countries.
  6. Draft and publication of the final research report, which includes the conclusions and recommendations.

Here below the list of conclusions and recommendations included in the final report

I.             Identification of trafficked persons

Consider involving a wider range of actors in the pro-active identification of cases of trafficking. These actors should include: labour inspectors, health practitioners, social workers and teachers

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • BiH: Strengthen the involvement of the education and health sector in identification and referral
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Enhance the role and work of the labour inspectorate in identification
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Allow organizations working independently from the state to formally identify trafficked persons
  • Serbia: Promote multi-agency involvement in identification by formalising the role and input of specialised NGOs and involving other relevant actors, such as labour inspectors, social workers and medical staff

Work to build the skills and capacity of police — and other actors brought into the process – to identify cases of trafficking, including to screen, interview and referral cases appropriately

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • Serbia, Montenegro: Provide frontline staff with operational indicators, guidance and toolkits to be used in the identification process and update them regularly to reflect new modalities of TIP
  • Albania, Kosovo*, Montenegro: Enhance border control capacity to detect and identify trafficked persons
  • Albania: Improve the identification capacity of border police with regard to particular categories of cases, such as adult men and cases of internal trafficking
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: All police units should be trained to identify cases, not only specialized units whose coverage is limited and do not necessarily know the situation in local communities

Strengthen the capacity and motivation of all actors responsible for identifying cases of trafficking[1]

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • Albania, BiH: Raise the awareness of labour inspectors on the phenomenon of trafficking to enhance their capacity to identify and report possible cases
  • Montenegro: Develop multi-agency training on the identification of trafficked persons for frontline staff, including law enforcement officials, labour inspectors, social workers, medical staff, staff of special institutions for children and NGOs
  1. Pursue a proactive approach to the identification of trafficking cases by:
    1. Encouraging labour inspections in sectors most at risk (e.g. agriculture, hotels and entertainment, construction, small scale factories, fishing)
    2. Developing outreach systems to those involved in high risk activities such as begging, domestic work and sex work
    3. Implementing screening procedures among irregular migrants, asylum seekers and deportees
    4. Designing new methods to facilitate the self-identification of cases

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • BiH: Develop and implement clear rules and procedures for the identification of trafficked persons, especially domestic cases and children involved in begging
  • Montenegro: Introduce a checklist to identify potential trafficking cases during the visa application system and regularly update the indicators to reflect the changing nature of TIP
  • Montenegro: Ensure that law enforcement officials, social workers, labour inspectors and other relevant actors adopt a more proactive approach to identification and increase their outreach work to do so
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Enhance the capacity to identify trafficked persons among irregular migrants
  • Serbia: Define indicators for the identification of children and adult victims in all phases of TIP

II.            Support and reintegration services for trafficked persons

  1. Provide more services to all cases, not just those who have experienced sexual exploitation
  2. Provide more community-based/non-shelter alternatives for those people who do not wish, or would not benefit from, placement in shelters
  3. Develop and implement dedicated support services for child victims of trafficking, tailored to their specific needs

This includes creating specialised programmes for integration of children, provision of adequate support to foster families as appropriate and improving the capacities of employees at child-care institutions.

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • Albania: Sensitize donors to the importance of grants and fundraising for reintegration
  • BiH: Clearly include child protection in strategic documents and administrative instructions/ protocols
  • Kosovo*: Consider co-sharing costs related to the care, assistance and reintegration of victims among the ministries and governmental agencies with responsibility for responding to trafficking
  • Montenegro, Serbia: Develop or improve specialized programs for providing assistance to child victims of trafficking from identification through to reintegration
  • Montenegro: Facilitate the reintegration of victims of trafficking into society and avoid re- trafficking by providing them with vocational training and access to the labour market
  • Serbia: Provide training to foster-care families and sensitize employees of child-care institutions on the needs and appropriate treatment of their clients

Improve the quality of services by (1) developing standards and certification for organizations providing support, including in shelters, (2) monitoring new and existing standards, and (3) collecting and using appropriate feedback mechanisms based on international standards

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • BiH: Develop standardized rules and procedures to assist domestic trafficked persons
  • BiH: Improve and strengthen short-term assistance and protection (quality and quantity)
  • BiH, Kosovo*: Introduce shelter certification and licensing
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Improve the overall quality of assistance and ensure that essential services are provided free of charge. “Free means free. Not only free on paper”
  • Montenegro: Ensure that conditions provided in shelters for trafficked persons are adequate and adapted to their special needs
  • Serbia: Introduce feedback procedures to monitor assistance provided to trafficked persons after their return to of the area of origin

Deliver long-term, sustainable reintegration support for all cases, including access to local and national social protection systems and support

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • BiH, Kosovo*, Serbia: Devise systems and mechanisms to ensure people are assisted in longer-term reintegration and rehabilitation processes
  • Montenegro: Facilitate the reintegration of trafficked persons and avoid re-trafficking by providing them with vocational training and access to the labour market

III.           Cooperation at the national and international level

Increase cooperation and coordination among national actors responding to trafficking in persons

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • BiH, Kosovo*: Improve coordination among key stakeholders involved in identification and referral
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Clarify leadership roles and specific responsibilities of each actor in the NRM
  • Montenegro: Introduce an operational national referral mechanism and identify roles and procedures for all frontline staff likely to come into contact with trafficked persons
  • Serbia: Regulate and formalize the position of the National Coordinator

Strengthen international cooperation through improved implementation and institutionalization of the regional TRM, strengthened cross-border cooperation and joint investigation teams

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • BiH, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia: Revive current or previous iterations of the TRMs
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Clarify the SOP on the exchange of information at the transnational level and share existing good practices in this area

IV.          Criminal justice processes

Strengthen the capacity of criminal justice actors to protect people who have experienced trafficking and prosecute traffickers to the full extent of the law

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • BiH, Montenegro: Improve the knowledge and sensitivity of judges, prosecutors, investigators and lawyers about the existence, signs, and rights of victims
  • BiH, Montenegro: Provide training to all professionals responsible for the provision of assistance and protection measures to trafficked persons

Strengthen supports within the criminal justice process, including full implementation of the reflection period, support during the legal process, and assistance in seeking compensation

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • Albania, Serbia: Introduce specific articles in the criminal procedures code on victims compensation and establish a special state fund to compensate people who have experienced trafficking
  • Montenegro: Implement additional measures to ensure that trafficked persons are adequately informed, protected and assisted during the investigation, pre-trial period and court proceedings
  • Serbia: Adopt appropriate measures aimed at protecting victims and training members of the Witness Protection Unit on how to work with and support them

V.            Government commitment and resource allocation

Increase funding for counter-TIP programmes, in particular for NGOs and institutions that support trafficked persons

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • Albania: Provide adequate state funds to ensure the quality of the services
  • BiH: Improve access to, and disbursement of funds under the ‘intervention budget’ to cover short-term assistance and protection for cases
  • Kosovo*: Identify ways to share costs related to the care, assistance and reintegration of people among the ministries and governmental agencies with related interest/responsibility for combating TIP
  • Kosovo*: Increase financial support to NGOs providing shelter and services to victims, using municipal budget allocations or in‐kind contributions (land, premises, etc.)
  • Kosovo*: Introduce the concept of social enterprises to allow NGOs to receive governmental grants for income generating activities targeting employment for marginalized and/or disadvantaged sectors of the community
  • Kosovo*: Appoint  advocacy counsellor to facilitate the implementation and management of the Tracking Assistance and Reparation Funds to people who have experienced trafficking
  • Montenegro: Ensure that all the signatories of the Memorandum of Co-operation effectively fulfil their responsibilities to provide financial assistance to at risk communities
  • Kosovo*: Issue administrative instructions to allow tax deductible in‐kind charitable contributions from private businesses for NGOs providing shelter and services to victims
  • Serbia: Demonstrate greater political will to fight TIP by earmarking budget allocations

VI. Attitudes that hinder the response to trafficking in persons

Incorporate activities to address attitudes that hinder the response to trafficking into specialised trainings for all actors involved in identification, prosecution, assistance and protection to persons experiencing exploitation, awareness raising campaigns and skills building workshops[2]

Supporting recommendations at the site level include:

  • Albania: Increase the victims’ awareness/understanding that they are victims of a crime and are not guilty of what has happened to them
  • Albania, BiH: Address and improve border police, judge, and prosecutor attitudes toward people who have experienced trafficking
  • Montenegro: Include training modules aimed at changing negative attitudes and prejudices with respect to victims of trafficking

 


* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

[1] Following in put from the stakeholder workshop, this recommendation was changed from “non-police actors” to “all actors”.

[2] This recommendation was revised in response to comments received at, and after, the stakeholders’ workshop.

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