On Tuesday, November 9, the final online conference of the four-year regional BAN III project was held. The conference was dedicated to the presentation of the results of the project implementation. The main goal of the project was to strengthen cross-sectoral cooperation, improve institutional adjustment and prepare the adoption of the Monitoring Tool (an instrument that will enable objective and responsible monitoring of the quality of protection and assistance to victims of trafficking in partner’s countries).
The event brought together national rapporteurs for THB, national coordinators and representatives of ombudsman offices from partner countries; experts who participated in the preparation of national reports on the availability and quality of services for victims of trafficking from relevant institutions and NGOs; representatives of domestic and international civil society organizations and, of course, representatives of BAN project partner organizations.
The event consisted of an introductory speech and four sessions.
In the beginning, Kay Binder, Policy and Programme Officer – Sector Rule of Law, Security, Migration and Reconciliation, European Commission (Brussels), and Mirjana Mirosavljević Bobić, BAN III Regional Program Coordinator, ASTRA – Anti-trafficking Action (Serbia), addressed the event.
The next four sessions were dedicated to:
(1) Presentation of the main achievements of the BAN III project in the past four years – what was planned and what we have managed to achieve so far, presented to the audience by Mirjana Mirosavljević Bobić, BAN III Regional Program Coordinator. In her presentation, she enumerated the numerous achievements of the BAN III project, which was realized for two years in the extraordinary conditions of the pandemic. What was highlighted as one of the main successes comes from the advocacy segment and relates to establishing the Institute of National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings in Northern Macedonia 2018 and Serbia 2021. In addition, the adoption of the Law on Compensation for Victims of Violent Crime in Northern Macedonia.
(2) Individual short presentations on what participation in the BAN III project meant to civil society organizations and state institutions in the Western Balkans and the importance of multisectoral cooperation and its continuation. Representatives of the partner organizations of the BAN III project were in charge of these presentations.
(3) Presentation of the final regional report on developing the capacity of state bodies in the Western Balkans to monitor anti-trafficking policies and practices, which included conclusions and recommendations, for which Mike Dottridge, an international anti-trafficking expert, was in charge (United Kingdom). He spoke about the lessons learned from the implementation of this complex regional project and gave guidelines for further work.
- It is important to continue monitoring either every year or regularly: (NB Covid situation as an exception)
- Support the appointment of National Rapporteurs and related advocacy to support changes that monitors recommend
- Review the INDICATORS again TOGETHER to identify the most significant ones and to reduce the total number (possibly revising the Handbook)
- Add ‘prevention’ to the topics already monitored (4 possible ‘Framework Indicators’ are suggested on prevention in the final project report)
- Concerning priorities for monitoring in the future: it would be possible to focus each annual round of monitoring on a specific topic of interest to authorities throughout the Western Balkans, such as:
- Identification of victims
- Patterns of child trafficking or specifical issues that arise concerning Roma children and adults – begging, child marriage, and forced marriage
- Understanding how to identify who is most ‘vulnerable’ to being trafficked and what measures are appropriate to take with respect to ‘vulnerable groups’;
- Trafficking for particular purposes, such as labour exploitation (i.e., forced labour, servitude, slavery and practices similar to slavery, such as debt bondage).
This session included audience questions and answers.
(4) The last session was dedicated to the plenary discussion on the next steps in monitoring the fight against trafficking in human beings in the Western Balkans. This subject should be the focus of a possible fourth phase of the project (BAN IV).