Serbia and North Macedonia supported in strengthening criminal justice responses to smuggling of migrants

January-March 2023, Serbia & North Macedonia: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) widely applies simulation trainings to assist Member States in preventing and combating smuggling of migrants (SOM). Well-constructed simulation trainings provide criminal justice practitioners with an opportunity to test out different scenarios to see what works and understand the trajectories leading to the right and wrong answers and decisions. This trial-and-error approach gives practitioners the knowledge and confidence to apply new skills in real life cases. The value of simulation trainings is enhanced by a debriefing and coaching session, where respective learning sessions can be analyzed, challenges and misconceptions identified, and good practices marked and further discussed.

To support criminal justice practitioners in Serbia and North Macedonia in combatting SOM, UNODC successfully implemented a set of three 2.5-days joint simulation training courses – two in Serbia (24-26 January in Nis and 14 -16 2023 March in Vrnjacka Banja) and one in North Macedonia (21-23 February 2023 in Mavrovo), generously funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden.

As a result, a group of prosecutors, law enforcement officers and protection workers from Serbia and North Macedonia experienced real-case situations related to performing initial checks and strategic planning, applying special investigative techniques, experiencing crime scenes and evidence gathering, mapping criminal networks as well as conducting financial investigations and seizing and confiscating the proceeds of crime. Moreover, they practiced provision of adequate protection and assistance to migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse, including victims of trafficking. Additionally, the training exercises fostered teamwork behaviors such as effective communication, collaboration, team leading, team building, bilateral police-to-police and judicial cooperation, as well as the enhanced inter-agency and regional cooperation.

“This type of interactive trainings and simulation of a real-life situation is the most effective and produces the best results” stated Mr. Ljupco Markudov, Head of Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration Department at the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia.

“The training was absolutely useful because it is now much clearer to me, and it should be to my colleagues, how important is the coordination among the services represented here – prosecution and police” added Mr. Slobodan Savovic, Coordinator for the South of Serbia Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, Serbia.

These activities contribute to SDG 16: Promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development to the provision of access to justice for all and to the building of effective accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels as well as SDG 10, particularly Target 10.7: Responsible and well-managed migration policies.