Enhancing operational capacity to investigate and disrupt Human Trafficking activities in the Western Balkans
This project identifies an urgent need for raising operational capacity in order to more effectively identify and disrupt the activities of organised criminal gangs involved in the trafficking of humans. The complexity of the networks involved in human trafficking and the difficulty in persuading victims to become witnesses (due to the danger of threats to them if and when they return home, and to their families) makes this a particularly difficult crime to deal with effectively. The primary objective of this project is to enhance the capability of law enforcement officials in the Western Balkans in the fight against human trafficking targeted towards Western Europe. At the end of the project, the Western Balkans countries/territories (Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Croatia, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Republic of Serbia) will have established an operational capacity for the development of regional criminal investigations into the activities of organised criminal gangs engaged in human trafficking operations and will be better equipped and trained to disrupt the activities of these gangs.
Further to a financial contribution from the Government of Germany which led to an extension of the project until December 2009, additional activities were designed as part of a second phase of the XCE/S50 project, with the objective of strengthening the international law enforcement and judicial cooperation through the development of a coordinated approach at national vis-à-vis regional level.
These new activities, that were implemented by December 2009, had the main objective of developing guidelines aiming at establishing common and coordinated working practices among the law enforcement and judiciary in investigating, prosecuting and sentencing cases of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, especially through the increased use of international legal cooperation instruments.
The development process of drafting the guidelines, entailing a consultative and inclusive approach among all national and local institutions, representatives of relevant IOs and NGOs, has started with a regional workshop held in Budva, Montenegro on 1-2 October 2009. The process continued with a series of bilateral missions to all project beneficiary countries/entities, and ended with the second regional workshop that took place in Belgrade, under the patronage of the Ministries of Interior and Justice of Serbia, from 24 to 26 November 2009 for the finalization of the guidelines. The guidelines were finalized in the end of December 2009.
The XCE/S50 project activities ended with a specialized training for law enforcement officials and prosecutors at TADOC Academy in Ankara, Turkey from 1 to 18 December, aiming at giving practical examples and training on what was considered, within the guidelines, as possible solution in order to overcome problems and issues related to international/regional law enforcement and judicial cooperation (e.g. joint investigative teams).
The Guidelines are intended to provide criminal justice practitioners in the Western Balkans with a user friendly guide to certain key aspects of international cooperation in the field of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in the Western Balkans. In order to address the issues hampering international cooperation in the region as reported throughout the consultation process, the Guidelines look at the international legislative framework for formal and informal cooperation, including the principles and pre-conditions of Mutual Legal Assistance. The guidelines also outline the mechanics and international legislative framework for the informal exchange of criminal intelligence and information, and the way in which police and prosecutors from different countries can work together, with specific reference to the development of joint investigation teams.
On the occasion of the last workshop which was organized for the purpose of the finalization of the Guidelines in Belgrade, Serbia, on 24-26 November 2009, the delegations expressed their need for continuation of the UNODC assistance in enhancing regional capacities in the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. Specifically, the delegations requested further UNODC technical assistance in the form of monitoring the application of the Regional Guidelines, which will be conducted through the development of a self-assessment questionnaire to be regularly submitted to criminal justice practitioners, with the aim of analysing difficulties and gaps and assist them in taking corrective measures. Additionally, further assistance was requested for the establishment of a network of national JIT experts and an assessment of the relevant national JIT legislation for the purpose of harmonizing it with the existing international (UN, EU and CoE) standards.
The UNODC Regional Programme Office for South East Europe is, upon availability of funds, willing to continue to support, through the above described technical assistance, the countries/entities of the Western Balkans in their efforts to strengthen regional law enforcement and judicial cooperation in the area of anti-human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
UNODC RPOSEE especially wishes to thank all project participants - representatives of ministries of justice, judges, prosecutors, anti-trafficking coordinators and law enforcement officers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia including Kosovo under UN resolution 1244 - who, with their continued support and active involvement, have greatly contributed to the development of these guidelines.