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Special Coordinator
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South Eastern Europe
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Anti-Trafficking Task Force
General Information - Updated: April 2004

Anti-Trafficking

The Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings

The Stability Pact Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings (SPTF) is an instrument of coordination to encourage and strengthen co-operation among the countries of South Eastern Europe (SEE) in order to streamline and accelerate existing efforts to combat human trafficking in the region. Created in 2000 and working under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the SPTF is dedicated to promoting collaboration and integration of anti-trafficking activities in SEE to improve their long-term effectiveness and sustainability in the fight against human trafficking.
While the SPTF’s activities are regional, they are based firmly on the priorities and needs of the countries of the region. Achieving regional ownership through development of local participation, responsibility and accountability of these efforts is crucial. The SPTF ensures that the regional dimension of the multi-faceted elements of human trafficking are fully considered and included in the planning and implementation of anti-trafficking activities in SEE.

The SPTF intensively fosters regional co-ordination and collaboration by all actors and actively supports and monitors the development and implementation of regional anti-trafficking measures, the SPTF advances the shared interests of both donor and recipient countries to achieve maximum results with the funding made available to implement anti-trafficking initiatives.

The SPTF works directly with international and nongovernmental organizations to encourage cooperation and appropriate coordination with governments and law enforcement.

Central Mechanisms for Coordinated Anti-Trafficking Results in SEE

  • The Task Force Secretariat
  • The Task Force Expert Co-ordination Team

The SPTF Secretariat

The Task Force Secretariat, located in Vienna, is the driving force in the development of coordinated anti-trafficking activities, policies and structures in SEE. Within this framework of fostering national and regional collaboration, it assists, guides and assesses the implementation of anti-trafficking measures and projects in the region. The Secretariat is comprised of:

  • Minister Dr. Helga Konrad, Chair
  • Mr Stephen Warnath, Deputy Director
    (phone: +43 501150 3410; stephen.warnath@bmaa.gv.at)
  • Ms Daja Wenke, Anti-Trafficking Officer
    (phone: +43 501150 3264; daja.wenke@bmaa.gv.at)

The SPTF Expert Co-ordination Team

The SPTF’s expert coordination team, comprised of international organisations and NGOs and working in close co-operation with those on the spot, offers its input and expertise in order for the SPTF to provide governments with a comprehensive picture of the interrelated and complex challenges of human trafficking and to offer guidance and best practices in anti-trafficking activities within the SPTF framework.

The SPTF Team members are:

OSCE/CPC/SPMU/OCEEA OSCE Secretariat / Conflict Prevention Centre / Special Police Matters Unit / Office of the Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities
ODIHR OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
COE Council of Europe
UNHCHR United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
IOM International Organisation of Migration
ICMPD International Centre for Migration Policy Development
IMP International Migration Policy Programme
ILO International Labour Organisation
UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund
ICMC International Catholic Migration Commission
SCF Save the Children Fund
SECI Southeast European Co-operative Initiative
SPOC Stability Pact Initiative Against Organised Crime
UNODC/CICP United Nation Centre for International Crime Prevention, Office on Drugs and Crime
EUROPOL European Police Office
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
EC European Commission
UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women
UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The Stability Pact Task Force
Building the Regional Anti-Trafficking Tools

The SPTF has pushed human trafficking to the top of the political agenda in the countries of the region and beyond. For the first time the problem is dealt with in a coordinated way through enduring institutional mechanisms created within the framework of the SPTF. Regular cross-border co-operation on the issue has been established and there is an increasing recognition that no institution nor country alone will be able to combat human trafficking effectively.

The Framework - Adoption and Implementation of Regional and National Plans of Action and Responsible Governmental Institutional Mechanisms

Since its inception, the SPTF has provided critical leadership and has been the catalyst for the creation of the country mechanisms designed to organize the implementation of anti-trafficking work in the countries and across the region.

Beginning in 2000, the SPTF has began putting in place the foundational framework for coordination of the regional anti-trafficking work to follow. A Multiyear Anti-Trafficking Action Plan for South Eastern Europe has been adopted. This resulted from a process involving SPTF fact-finding missions throughout SEE to identify capacities, needs and gaps. This Multiyear Action Plan constitutes a comprehensive framework for all relevant actors and addressing all main areas of concern, including: awareness raising, training and capacity building, law enforcement co-operation, victim protection, return and reintegration, legislative reform, and prevention.

In addition, the SPTF provided guidelines to countries to develop their National Plans of Action which were adopted by the SEE Governments and these national frameworks continue to be the basis for each country’s response to this crime and human rights violation. .

Following the recommendations of the SPTF, all countries in SEE also established institutional mechanisms for implementing these plans. Each country has:

  • Appointed a national/governmental co-ordinator, a high ranking official who is responsible for coordination of anti-trafficking measures within the Government and is the contact person for all actors involved in the fight against human trafficking in that country; and
  • Established multidisciplinary national working groups comprising the main relevant actors from the ministries, international organisations, NGOs and intergovernmental organisations;

Establishing these mechanisms is an important first step, but they must operate in practice to a satisfactory level. Accordingly, the SPTF oversees, coordinates and conducts monitoring initiatives to support and guide the concrete implementation of regional and national anti-trafficking efforts by these national mechanisms within the regional and national frameworks created.

Initiating Priorities – SPTF Task Force Meetings

At least once a year, the SPTF invites all representatives of Stability Pact participating States, OSCE Delegations, principle IOs and selected international NGOs and NGOs from the region to participate in the Task Force Meeting. These meetings have proven to be critical working sessions for coordinating the efforts of all of the key actors addressing this issue in the region.

The outcomes of each Task Force Meeting reflects a steady progression of logical steps of regional coordination:

  • At the 1st Task Force Meeting on 18 September 2000, the international community formulated their concerns about the ever-increasing problem of human trafficking in SEE and articulated their expectations to those responsible in the region concerning appropriate responses to the problem.
  • At the 2nd Task Force Meeting on 27 April 2001, international organisations emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to the complex and challenging issue of human trafficking, and offered their international know-how and expertise to Governments in the region regarding management of anti-trafficking projects.
  • At the 3rd Task Force Meeting on 14 December 2001, the Governments of the region presented their national plans of action and set out their national priorities in combating human trafficking and further developed ways and means of enhanced regional co-operation.
  • The 4th Task Force Meeting on 4 June 2002 focused on the non-governmental sector and discussed how NGOs and Governments could collaborate and involve NGOs in decision-making processes of country anti-trafficking activities.
  • At the 5th Task Force Meeting on 28 March 2003, participants agreed upon guidelines for concrete action to combat child trafficking. The meeting’s second focus was on victim/witness protection. The outcome document of the Working Group on Victim/Witness Protection was discussed and governments were called upon to adopt a victim-centred law enforcement approach to respond appropriately to victim/witness protection issues.

Forming Region-Wide High Level Political Will - Regional Ministerial Forums

Once a year, the SPTF convenes a Regional Ministerial Forum inviting the SEE Government Ministers with primary responsibility for combating human trafficking to participate. Each Forum has resulted in the agreement of the SEE countries to a critical element of regional cooperation to advance the fight against human trafficking.

  • At the 1st Regional Ministerial Forum, which was convened in Palermo on 13 Decem-ber 2000 on the margins of the UN Conference on the signing of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Protect and Suppress Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children SEE Governments signed the Palermo Anti-Trafficking Declaration of South Eastern Europe. Government Ministers and representatives committed their countries to implementing effective programs of prevention, victim assistance and protection, legislative reform, law enforcement, and prosecution of traffickers.
  • At the 2nd Regional Ministerial Forum, convened in Zagreb on 27 November 2001, SEE Ministers of the Interior agreed to further develop a Regional Information Exchange Mechanism, similar in methodology to that of Europol for the EU Member States, by using the channels of the SECI Regional Centre in Bucharest and in co-ordination with Interpol.
  • At the 3rd Regional Ministerial Forum in Tirana on 11 December 2002, Government Ministers and representatives signed the Statement of Commitments on the Legalisation of the Status of Trafficked Persons thereby agreeing to granting temporary residence to trafficking victims, essential for the recovery of trafficking victims, and enabling the possibility of prosecutions of traffickers with the help of the critical testimony of trafficking victims.
  • At the 4th Regional Ministerial Forum on 10 December 2003 in Sofia, the SPTF presented the Statement on Commitments on Victim/Witness Protection and Trafficking in Children for signature obligating each state to develop special comprehensive measures of assistance and protection for witnesses who are victims of trafficking as well as to implement each state’s responsibility to systematically address the problem of trafficking in children within the region.

EXAMPLES OF HOW THE PARTS OF THE SPTF’S COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-TRAFFICKING FRAMEWORK FIT TOGETHER

The daily work of the SPTF is about supporting the established national and regional structures responsible for fighting human trafficking. Since its establishment hundreds of visits were paid to the countries of the region and beyond for meetings and conferences – with high-level government officials, law enforcement officials, local NGOs and IOs – as a direct expression of political will and to provide direct support and promotion of the initiatives in the respective countries.
The SPTF has also been invited to participate in the drafting of the European Convention on Combating Human Trafficking and was intensively involved in developing the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings.

The SPTF’s work is not based upon isolated projects. It works to help fit anti-trafficking initiatives into the comprehensive framework including prevention, assistance and care to help trafficking victims recover, protection of the safety of victims with a particular focus initially on those who agree to act as witnesses, and prosecution of traffickers to obtain meaningful jail sentences. Finally, a critical element is to monitor to gauge whether meaningful results are being achieved. Examples of this work follows:

MONITORING EFFECTIVENESS OF EFFORTS

Assessment of Governmental Anti-trafficking Structures and Policies in South-Eastern European Countries
The SPTF conducted a regional and country-by-country assessment in 2003 which shows that while there is much to note with approval regarding progress in SEE in fighting human trafficking, there also are fundamental problems that need to be addressed. For example:

  • Although impressive structures, mechanisms, and plans have been established, implementation is moving ahead slowly in most countries of South Eastern Europe.
  • Governmental responsibility is often being diverted to international organizations.
  • A number of countries are not working effectively with local NGOs.
  • A country’s anti-trafficking work demands full-time attention, yet there are few full-time governmental officials engaged.
  • Governmental coordination is not being effectively implemented.
  • Victim assistance very often amounts to little more than ‘first aid’ pending the victims’ removal from the country.
  • Governmental approaches to identifying victims are unsatisfactory.
CURBING CHILD TRAFFICKING

Child trafficking has been one of the issues of emphasis for the SPTF. The SPTF has engaged in a number of activities to lay the foundation for work on this aspect of human trafficking across the region. Initially, this was the focus of discussion (along with victim/witness protection) at the 5th Task Force Meeting in Portoro_, Slovenia. In its role of regional catalyst, the SPTF organized meetings to initiate subgroups of the national working groups to address trafficking in children and minors in each of the countries. At the same time, a number of specific initiatives have been undertaken by SPTF implementing partners and Expert Team members ILO/IPEC, UNICEF, Save the Children, also in close cooperation with Terre des Hommes. At the most recent Ministerial Forum, Ministers of Justice and Interior of South Eastern Europe committed their governments by signing the so-called Sofia Declaration to establish comprehensive action plans on combating child trafficking and develop specific child trafficking strategies and activities.

VICTIM/WITNESS PROTECTION

Initially, essential steps needed to protect witnesses who are victims of trafficking were identified at the Task Force Meeting in Portoro_, Slovenia, at the margins of which the SPTF organized a two-days workshop on the issue. The main relevant actors, including Council of Europe, OSCE Secretariat/ODIHR/selected missions, Koofra, SECI, IOM, White Ring, SPOC, Anti-Slavery International, discussed and agreed on concrete necessary victim/witness protection measures. The Lara Project, a Council of Europe contribution within the framework of the SPTF, has been working with countries of the region to reform national anti-trafficking laws, including measures – inter alia – to provide the tools for protection for trafficking victims who agree to become witnesses, to grant temporary residence permit to trafficking victims and to effectively address trafficking in children.

CRIMINAL LAW REFORM

Through the Lara Project, led by the Council of Europe within the framework of the SPTF, international and national experts compiled and analysed anti-trafficking legislation in each of the countries. A process was then initiated to work with countries on the creation and strengthening of comprehensive human trafficking law reform. "Flying consultancies" have assisted several countries of the region individually in developing adequate legislation. The SPTF was directly involved in this process by sending representatives to all meetings including criminal law drafting sessions in various countries and two drafting seminars for all countries in the region. Nearly all of the countries strengthened their law and although the Project Lara concluded in November 2003, the criminal anti-trafficking law reform work continues with a focus on the implementation.

COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING PROGRAM FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Under the auspices of the SPTF, a three-pronged training program has been adopted by the countries of the region. It consists of multi-day stand-alone training for: 1) general police; 2) special anti-trafficking investigators; and 3) prosecutors and judges.

This comprehensive program, which is the result of over a year of drafting, piloting of training programs by law enforcement and NGO teams in each country/jurisdiction in the region (organized by the implementing agencies ICMPD and UNDP), is the first program of its kind in the world. In no other region have the countries adopted a sophisticated curriculum-based training program for universal use in their police academies (or equivalent) to provide regionally harmonized training which has been tailored to the laws, needs and experiences of each country in the region.

Taken together, these three components of the comprehensive program provide a model for improving the law enforcement and judicial response to trafficking cases. On 15-16 December 2003, a Senior Official Meeting was held at the United Nations in Vienna to formally present the progress of the anti-trafficking training and to officially hand over to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the law enforcement anti-trafficking training programs and material for adaptation and utilization in other parts of the world.

TEMPORARY RESIDENCE

The SPTF has also emphasized establishing the practical foundation for implementation of the SEE countries’ commitment to enact temporary stay mechanisms made at the 3RD REGIONAL MINISTERIAL FORUM in Tirana (11 December 2002, signing of the Statement of Commitments on the Legalization of the Status of Trafficked Person). The SPTF has continued to promote the initiative to legalize the status of victims of trafficking and grant temporary residence in the law and practices of all SEE countries. Concrete steps so far included initiation of a pilot program in five countries (implementing agency IOM) to test alternative approaches to providing temporary stay to victims of human trafficking.

TRAFFICKING INTO FORCED LABOUR

Addressing economic root causes is another area in which the work of the SPTF is being conducted. The SPTF has started to raise awareness – in line with the UN Protocol on Trafficking in Persons – of the fact that trafficking in human beings includes not only trafficking for sexual exploitation but also trafficking into forced labour. Implementing partner ILO is conducting a program to cooperate with national authorities on targeted employment and vocational training for trafficked women or possible victims with the objective of reducing trafficking in young women for forced labour from Albania, Moldova and Ukraine to Western and Northern Europe. This topic will receive unprecedented regional attention at the 6th SPTF Task Force Meeting in Belgrade in March 2004.

REPORTS ON TRAFFICKING IN HUMANS IN SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE
Regional Clearing Point

The Regional Clearing Point’s First Annual Report on Victims and Victim Assistance was released in September 2003. It provides concrete data on the characteristics of victims assisted in the region as well as data on the effectiveness of victim assistance and protection (shelters, national referral mechanisms, return and reintegration programs).Update Report on Trafficking in Human Beings in South Eastern Europe

Finding that national and regional anti-trafficking responses still have serious gaps and implementation in many areas lags behind where it should be, this report follows up on the 2002 report by UNICEF, UNOHCHR, ODIHR assessing the situation and existing responses including projects to counter trafficking in human beings in the countries of SEE from a human rights perspective.

Together, these reports undertaken within the SPTF process arguably provide the most detailed review available on any region of this crime of human trafficking and human rights violation.The foregoing reflects a sampling of the wide-ranging work that is conducted by the SPTF Secretariat, which acts as a catalyst for the counter-measures to be undertaken by governments, NGOs, IOs, and implementing partners within its comprehensive strategic framework in South Eastern Europe and beyond.

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