On April 11-12, the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings held the annual Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference in its headquarters at the Hofburg in Vienna, to which UNODC was invited.
The Alliance is a broad international forum bringing together regional, international, and intergovernmental, as well as non-governmental organisations to jointly prevent and combat human trafficking.
On behalf of UNODC, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs John Brandolino delivered an introductory speech on 'Combating trafficking in human beings for the purpose of forced criminality' - the theme for this year's conference.
Mr Brandolino stated that UNODC's biennial Global Report on Trafficking in Persons for 2016 will closely monitor forced criminality, given that victims of trafficking are often forced to commit an array of crimes.
He also cited UNODC's Model Law on Trafficking in Persons, which includes forced criminality among the purposes of exploitation, along with the associated principle of non-punishment for crimes victims may have committed while in a trafficking situation.
UNODC's work, said Mr Brandolino, has even been referenced by Member States in cases convicting traffickers but acquitting victims for crimes they were forced to commit.
Mr Brandolino stressed the need for a collective response to the needs of trafficked persons and the importance of enacting the right strategies and policies to protect these people while ending impunity for traffickers. This call was echoed by many other conference participants.
The conference featured a wide variety of participants from various organisations and national governments drawn from across the OSCE region and beyond. They contributed a number of important practical experiences and recommendations at the four panels and three side events which took place, designed to cover various practical, legal, and policy approaches to combating trafficking in human beings for the purpose of forced criminality.
These recommendations ranged from including trafficking for forced criminality in national legal definitions and enhancing proactive identification and protection of victims of this type of crime, to the need to boost transnational cooperation to end the impunity of perpetrators.
To read John Brandolino's full speech, please click here.