International roundtable organized by NGO ASTRA with support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Serbia, in Belgrade on March 24, 2011, gathered the representatives of the most relevant anti-trafficking actors from the Netherlands and Republic of Serbia for the purpose of exchanging experiences and strengthening international cooperation in this area. Special emphasis was put on the institute of National Rapporteur on human trafficking which has been present in the Netherlands for more than ten years.
Human trafficking is the gravest violation of human rights and one of the most profitable activities of organized crime which does not recognize national borders. For this reason, numerous international initiatives have been launched and documents signed which attempt to formulate uniform and persistent national responses and encourage international cooperation.
Henk Werson, police expert on trafficking in human beings and people smuggling, KLPD, and Mitar Đurašković, National Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the Republic of Serbia, discussed human trafficking situation and challenges they face in their work, while Gert Veurnik, Dutch Public Prosecutor on Trafficking in Human Beings and People Smuggling and Gordana Jekić-Bradajić, Serbian Deputy Prosecutor for Organized Crime shared their experiences in prosecuting traffickers and protecting trafficking victims in criminal proceedings.
Bearing in mind UN’s, Council of Europe’s and EU’s recommendations relating to the introduction of an independent body of National Rapporteur on human trafficking, the Dutch National Rapporteur Corinne Dettmeijer – Vermeulen presented the work of her office and talked about the significance of objective monitoring of the effectiveness of national anti-trafficking policies and activities, putting special emphasis on independence as a prerequisite for objectivity. The task of National Rapporteur is to inform the government on all aspects of trafficking in human beings. This regards information on the nature, scale, perpetrators, on modus operandi, victims, but also more general topics as legislation, prevention, governmental policy and important developments in these fields on the national and international levels. These information are gathered from all relevant actors, both state and non governmental that deal with the trafficking issue. The Annual report of National Rapporteur is presented to the government. The report contains qualitative and quantitative information on criminal investigation and prosecution, information regarding prevention, victim support and assistance. The task of the National Rapporteur is also to formulate recommendations for the government in order to improve the policy and practice in the fight against trafficking in human beings.
The general conclusions of the Round table were that even if there is good cooperation in the region when it comes to police cooperation and police and prosecutor cooperation, there is a room for improvement of such cooperation beyond the region, that is, also at the European level. Regarding the establishing of the institute of the National Rapporteur in the Republic of Serbia, the conclusion was that it certainly should be an independent body, and that the principle of independence should be also applied when it comes to financing.
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