The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Programme Office for South East Europe (RPOSEE) carried out the first Workshop to Develop Guidelines on International Legal Cooperation Instruments in the Area of Anti-Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants in Budva, Montenegro from September 30 to 2 October 2009.
The workshop is being organized within the German-funded extension of the project "Enhancing operational capacity to investigate and disrupt human trafficking activities in the Western Balkans".
The workshop was opened by Mr. Alexander Avanesov, UN Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro, Ms. Sonja Perisic from the Office of National Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator of Montenegro, and Ms. Ela Banaj, UNODC Programme Coordinator.
During the previous UNODC project workshop held in Albania in February 2009, a new set of recommendations was produced with the aim of strengthening regional law enforcement and judicial cooperation in the area of anti-human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, in particular through the enhanced use of international legal cooperation instruments (mutual legal assistance, extradition, etc.). In order to achieve this objective, the UNODC technical assistance was welcomed by all the participants in the workshop.
Therefore, the aim of the Budva workshop was to initiate the consultative and inclusive process of developing guidelines on international legal cooperation instruments in the area of anti-human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
The Guidelines will cover both legal and law enforcement aspects of regional cooperation instruments. Therefore, the workshop entailed the participation of judges, prosecutors and police officers who regularly deal with cases of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. In addition, National Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinators from each of the Western Balkan countries/territories were invited to participate.
In order to facilitate the consultative process for the development of the guidelines, two working groups were conducted with the aim of discussing issues and problems in the area of international/regional criminal justice cooperation and sharing ideas and suggestions on how to enhance such cooperation in the region.
The discussions clearly indicated that there are three particular legal aspects that are to be addressed if the international cooperation in the area of anti-human trafficking and migrant smuggling in South East Europe is to be enhanced. These are: legal frameworks used for the implementation of the international cooperation; (in)admissibility of evidence in different jurisdictions; joint investigation teams.
From a law enforcement perspective, identified issues concern both formal and informal cooperation. Formal mechanisms are generally working well, though they can be hampered by bureaucratic delays. On the other hand, among law enforcement agencies in the region a good network of informal exchange of information and intelligence has developed. It is based on operational focal points and other personal contacts. Nonetheless, issues and problems which can hamper regional investigations were also identified.
Furthermore, the important role of relevant international/regional organizations in facilitating formal and informal exchange of information and criminal intelligence was highlighted.
Representatives of other relevant international organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative Regional Centre for combating trans-border crime (SECI Centre), the South East Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA) and Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) also took part in the discussion.
Read the Meeting Report.