The world has seen a steady intensification of anti-trafficking activities since 2000, when the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, accompanying the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, was adopted, especially in Europe once the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings came into force in 2008. International legislative activity was followed by changes in national legislation, the development of national anti-trafficking policies and referral mechanisms, and strong civil society involvement, in particular in the area of victim assistance and especially awareness raising with the general public or particular target audiences. This decade has seen the emergence of a series of reports that assess the situation in the area of human trafficking, globally, regionally and/or locally. Governments and international organizations are trying to estimate the number of victims of trafficking and exploitation, as well as to assess the work of national governments and of the wider international community in combating this phenomenon. These assessments and estimates are based on different methodologies and are made from different points of view.
The initial idea for developing a monitoring came from Marija Anđelković from ASTRA (Anti Trafficking Action – Serbia). Aware of the importance of independent and objective assessments for further development and improvement of state responses to human trafficking since it first started its work, ASTRA has been monitoring and reporting on the work of relevant institutions, in particular in the fields of direct assistance to trafficked persons and the prosecution of traffickers. At some point we realized that it would be beneficial to have comprehensive, detailed and above all clearly defined indicators, not only of legislative and policy frameworks in Serbia, but also of what happens in practice, i.e. how and to what extent these frameworks are applied in practice and what is the overall level of compliance with international and European instruments and other standards that Serbia has ratified.
The “Monitoring and Evaluation of Anti Trafficking Policies: Handbook for Victims’ Advocates” developed within the EU-funded Balkans ACT Now! project seeks to present comprehensive and detailed indicators that would enable monitoring – occasional or continuous – of national anti-trafficking policies, with the emphasis on the policies aimed at the protection of victims. It can be applied both in the countries of origin of people who are trafficked and
countries of destination (and also in countries where people are trafficked and exploited within their own borders). The Handbook uses as its reference points the various treaty obligations accepted by governments that sign contemporary international instruments in this area. Without denying the immense significance of law enforcement and security issues, the starting point of this tool is the fact that human trafficking is above all the violation of victims’ human rights and that all anti-trafficking policies should aim to restore and protect these rights. Especially important is that anti-trafficking policies must in no way do harm either to victims of trafficking or to other social groups that are in a broad sense considered to be at risk of falling victim to trafficking, all in the pursuit of some
alleged higher purpose. We believe that monitoring anti-trafficking policies, based on detailed and clearly defined indicators, will enable all anti-trafficking actors to make a true and reliable assessment on how things work in their respective countries and to take more appropriate measures as a result. It will also enable year-to-year countrybased
comparisons, as well as comparisons between countries. Comparisons are not important for ranking the performance of states, but for measuring progress, sharing good practice and adjusting policies to meet the challenges identified in the course of the implementation of laws and policies in practice, as well as for noting trends and developments in the area of trafficking in human beings. Poor information contributes to poor decision- and policy-making that does not correspond to needs on the ground, whether we talk about protection, prosecution, prevention or any other aspect of the fight against human trafficking; indeed, sometimes they even cause highly damaging, unintended outcomes. So, this Monitoring Handbook seeks to contribute to accurate information, accurate assessments of the situation and consequently appropriate identification of needs and gaps that need to be tackled. Members of the BAN Project team and the consultants we worked with went through the indicators over and over again; we had further ideas for improvements and changes even when we were finalizing the final version. We also expect there to be a need for new indicators and for modifications in the ones we are presenting, as a result of changing trends and needs in the anti-trafficking field. That is why we designed this tool as an open platform, where every organization or institution which is involved in monitoring can make changes and add what is missing, either in the global or their local context. The first reports based on the monitoring of some of the indicators listed, in four Balkan countries, concerning some areas of anti-trafficking operations are scheduled to be finished and presented in 2016.