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International roundtable “Anti Trafficking Mechanism and Cross Border Cooperation – Practice of the Netherlands and Republic of Serbia”

Anti Trafficking Mechanism and Cross Border Cooperation – Practice of the Netherlands and Republic of Serbia

24 March 2011

Aeroklub, Belgrade (Uzun Mirkova 4) 10:00 h

International roundtable organized by NGO ASTRA – Anti Trafficking Action, 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. The two main international instruments are the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime with its protocols, in particular the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Hyman Beings, Especially Women and Children (2000) and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005). Republic of Serbia and the Netherlands are among many countries which signed and ratified both these conventions.

Every country has its national anti-trafficking mechanism that is organized in different ways. Bearing in mind Council of Europe’s and UN’s recommendations relating to the introduction of national rapporteur on human trafficking as an independent body, 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.

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.

As far as Serbia is concerned, in 2010, the Agency for Coordination of Protection of Trafficking Victims identified a total of 89 victims or potential victims of human trafficking. In the same period, the police filed 47 criminal reports for the violations of Article 388 of the Criminal Code of Serbia (trafficking in human beings). 76 persons appeared as injured parties. Through ASTRA SOS Hotline 37 persons were identified and/or assisted as trafficking victims. The introduction of the institute of national rapporteur on human trafficking would certainly solve the problem of inconsistency of data on trafficked persons which has been present in Serbia for years. Although inconsistent, all sources confirm that trafficking victims identified in Serbia are primarily female persons, citizens of Serbia, with very large percentage of children. The majority of victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. However, there is a growing number of labor trafficking cases which increase the visibility of male victims. Other forms of exploitation registered in Serbia include forced begging, forced marriage and criminal activity. For the majority of victims, Serbia is the country of both origin and destination with a strong trend of internal trafficking. In combination with the fact that the number of our citizens exploited in foreign countries is rather small, it may be concluded that there is a profitable market for the services of trafficked persons in the Serbian society.

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