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ASTRA participated in the meeting of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime: Illicit economy in Southeastern Europe

During the past week, a two-day meeting of the regional network organized by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime was held in Vienna, focusing on the theme of the illicit economy in Southeastern Europe.

“This diverse group, composed of civil society organizations, academics, and investigative journalists, represents a crucial resource in our collective fight against organized crime and corruption in the Western Balkans,” stated the Global Initiative.

They added that topics covered in the panel included illegal financial flows, the integrity of criminal justice institutions, and the link between organized crime and violent extremism.

Mark Shaw, the Director of the Global Initiative (GI), addressed the participants.

“The idea behind establishing GI was not to leave the fight against organized crime solely to governments, especially since they haven’t been very successful in that battle. Our job has become more challenging, but there is much more room for our work,” he said.

Panel participants shared their opinions on organized crime in their respective countries.

Professor Milos Vukcevic from the Faculty of Law at the University of the Mediterranean in Podgorica highlighted one obstacle faced by the prosecution in Montenegro, which is the increasing influence of organized crime in the prosecution and judicial offices.

Marija Andjelkovic, the director of the non-governmental organization ASTRA fighting against human trafficking, emphasized another aspect of organized crime – labor exploitation.

“Institutions have not yet reached the level of being able to investigate cases of international labor exploitation as a form of organized crime,” she said.

On the other hand, investigative journalist Andrijana Pisarevic from Bosnia and Herzegovina mentioned a problem in her country: “The lack of police personnel specialized in cases of sexual exploitation of children for pornography.”

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime expressed gratitude to the participants for sharing knowledge, insights, and guidance.

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