Seminar for Judges and Prosecutors to Address the Smuggling of Migrants held in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

About 50 kilometres north east of Skopje, near the border with Serbia, lies the village of Lojane. According to Deutsche Welle, the story of Lojane is a good example of the migrant smuggling network in operation across the Balkans. Migrants cross from Greece into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in search of passage to western Europe meaning border villages like Lojane can become migrant smuggling hubs.

UNODC's Global Programme against Smuggling of Migrants, is designed to help Member States take action to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants affecting towns like Lojane, tailored specifically to their needs with regard to the migration crisis which has played out in the region.

FYROM requested technical assistance from UNODC related to smuggling of migrants, which was held on February 16 and 17 2016 within the framework of the Regional Programme in South Eastern Europe 2016-2019. The seminar was delivered by two UNODC officials alongside two experts from Italy; a judge and a prosecutor who were able to share their experiences of prosecuting and adjudicating landmark cases of migrant smuggling in Italy. After introductory sessions on the international legal framework and concepts and categories of migrant smuggling, they focused on the role of smuggled migrants and  smugglers of migrants in investigations; investigation methods and techniques in migrant smuggling cases, including special investigative techniques, cross-border investigations and evidence collection with origin countries.

A prosecutor from FYROM delivered a session on national legislative and institutional frameworks and presented a national case on smuggling of migrants as a case study. A prosecutor for organized crime and corruption from FYROM also presented a case on smuggling of migrants from the national practice as a case study. The seminar was concluded with a session on the importance of assistance and protection of smuggled migrants, together with the importance of non-criminalisation of smuggled migrants alongside the protection of their human rights. Of the 25 participants, the vast majority were judges and prosecutors.

Arranged as a seminar, the focus was to discuss best practices with view to enhancing successful prosecution and adjudication of smuggling of migrants cases. It addressed key aspects of criminal justice responses to the smuggling of migrants using specialized UNODC training materials and real-life cases to draw out relevant issues and specific challenges related to the organized crime element.

The seminar included a tailored programme based on the relevant modules from the In-Depth Training Manual on Investigating and Prosecuting the Smuggling of Migrants, and with reference to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.

The seminar was very successful, leading the way for future collaboration on smuggling of migrants-related activities in South Eastern European Member States.

For further information please contact:

Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section,      htmss AT unodc DOT org