World Day against Trafficking in Persons- Joint press release

Date Publish: 
Friday, July 30, 2021


Joint press release from International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Office of BiH on the occasion of

World Day against Trafficking in Persons


(Sarajevo, July 30, 2021) - This year marks the 21st anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Human Beings, known as the Palermo Protocol. Also, 26 years have passed since IOM globally began implementing anti-trafficking programs.

This anniversary is also a unique opportunity for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with the State Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Persons in BiH at the Ministry of Security of BiH, to present activities implemented under the project "Short-term and medium-term to Support Counter Trafficking Efforts in BiH ”funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID BiH) and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the United States Department of State (US DoS / INL). Particular importance is given to this year's United States Trafficking in Persons Report (US TIP report), a global report providing an overview of the situation in this field, and the recognized progress Bosnia and Herzegovina made in this area.

This year’s slogan to mark World Anti-Trafficking Day on a global scale is “Voices of Victims Lead the Road” putting the victim of trafficking at the center of the campaign and emphasizing the importance of listening and learning from trafficking survivors. The campaign portrays survivors as key actors in the fight against trafficking and focuses on the key role they play in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims, and provide support on the path to rehabilitation.

Many victims of trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to obtain assistance. They had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some faced re-victimization and punishment for crimes forced on them by traffickers. Others have been stigmatized or given inadequate support. Learning from victims' experiences and translating their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more effective victim-centered approach in the fight against trafficking.

Through a project funded by the USAID Mission in BiH and the US DoS / INL, IOM BiH is continuously working to strengthen the capacity of key actors involved in the national referral mechanism, through direct support to the BiH Anti-Trafficking Coordinator's Office on a victim sensitive approach to counter trafficking in persons.

Over 600 officials, representatives of key sectors who are in first contact with potential victims of trafficking (VoTs) (social workers, labor inspectors, police officers, prosecutors, employees of temporary reception centers, professionals in the education and health sectors) are trained to recognize basic indicators of trafficking in persons thereby facilitating proactive identification of VoTs. Also, the referral path and sensitized treatment of victims of trafficking is promoted to ensure victim sensitive assistance and protection is further strengthened through delivery of the inter-sectoral trainings for the representatives of the innovated referral mechanism.

Invigorated prosecution of perpetrators has also been tackled through a series of trainings and support provided to key actors from judiciary and law enforcement, with a focus on a victim sensitive approach in investigation and prosecution of TIP cases. Continued support was also provided to the National Task Force for Anti- Trafficking and Irregular Migration through the organization of meetings and trainings for a designated informal network of specialized anti-trafficking prosecutors and investigators from all levels of government.

Finally, the project supported and strengthened the institutional framework for countering TIP by supporting the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator's Office in the process of reforming the national referral mechanism to ensure improved interinstitutional cooperation, consistency of the referral mechanism and its compatibility with the overall administrative framework in BiH by fully respecting the applicable international standards. In this regard, a significant element of ensuring adequate coordination and a systematic approach in monitoring and reporting on trafficking cases is provided through the development of a statistical portal for uniformed and harmonized collection, analysis, processing and reporting of trafficking cases.

Statement by Robert R. Lopez, USAID Acting Mission Director statement:

"Today, I am pleased to be able to raise public awareness about this issue, but even more so to congratulate the institutions of this country, led by the State TIP Coordinator, on their tireless and dedicated work over the last year, which resulted in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s upgrade to Tier 2 from that Watch List. BiH made substantial progress towards combating TIP, including strengthening its anti-trafficking strike force, creating an informal network of prosecutors and investigators, and establishing regional monitoring teams to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts."

Statement by Stephen Glaser, US DoS/INL Director in BiH

“On the occasion of marking the WDTAP I would like to emphasize that there is a continued need for BiH authorities to vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers and impose adequate penalties as well as to ensure improvement of cooperation and coordination among state and sub-state actors, including allocating adequate resources and enhancing participation in the anti-trafficking strike force, as mentioned in the Action Plan for implementing US TIP 2021 report.”

Statement by Samir Rizvo, National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator:

“Bosnia and Herzegovina underwent a long way in its fight against trafficking. From 2004 when it was at its lowest level, ranked at Tier 3 of the Global US Trafficking in Persons Report, to being placed at Tier 1 in 2010, to being faced again with potential downgrade to Tier 3 last year. We made significant efforts in the past year to improve our counter trafficking response across all levels of authority. The number of identified victims increased by 30% compared to the year before, the number of investigations and indictments increased as well, final verdicts were passed with the highest sentence judged for this crime, 10 years for child traffickers .This progress is recognized in TIP 2021 report, as a result of the support we received from our partners such as IOM BiH. However, we see this progress only as an incentive to invigorate our fight against this crime until we bring Bosnia and Herzegovina back to the highest standard in the protection of human life and dignity, which, in essence, fighting trafficking in persons represents."

Statement by Laura Lungarotti, IOM Chief of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

“IOM will continue providing important and necessary support to government of BiH in advancing its overall migration governance and response. Countering trafficking of most vulnerable categories remains our priority and focus. For that reason, IOM will advance our support to the efforts of key actors to ensure that potential victims of trafficking in the context of mixed migration flows are identified,provided with protection and assistance they deserve not only as per international human rights standards, but as an imperative of humanity. IOM places children victims of trafficking at the core of its global campaign this year. The evidence shows unaccompanied migrant children are most vulnerable ones. While the progress was made in BiH, the numbers of identified foreign victims of trafficking in BiH remain low, last year, out of 70 identified, only 7 were foreigners. IOM BiH will continue r focusing its operations and support in this specific area, fight against trafficking in BiH.”