IOM: We need to support authorities in BiH to fight trafficking in persons

IOM: We need to support authorities in BiH to fight trafficking in persons

SARAJEVO, July 30 (FENA) – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Office of BiH issued a joint press release on the occasion of World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

The year 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, commonly known as the Palermo Protocol. It is also 25 years since IOM began implementing Counter-Trafficking programming.

This anniversary presents an opportune moment for International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina together with the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Office of BiH to reflect on the accomplishments of the USAID and INL funded “Short and Medium-Term Support to Strengthen Counter-Trafficking Efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina” project, stated the IOM BiH.

This year World Day against Trafficking in Persons focuses on the first responders to human trafficking. These are the people who work in different sectors – identifying, supporting, counseling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking, and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.

Within the scope of the USAID/INL funded project “Short and Medium-Term Support to Strengthen Counter-Trafficking Efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, IOM BiH trained 260 first responders (including social workers, police officials, prosecutors, staff working at the temporary reception centers and health care, education and labor inspection professionals) on proactive identification of potential victims of trafficking and referral.

Furthermore, IOM supported further strengthening of the capacity of the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Office by establishing a database/statistical portal with case management of identified victims of trafficking improving a national system of storage, data disaggregation and case management of VOT cases by offering an opportunity to all counter-trafficking actors to easy and secure access the data in line with national and international data protection standards and regulations.

Finally, the project supported the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Office, within the Ministry of Security BiH, to build and strengthen its counter-trafficking efforts through facilitated reform of the national referral mechanism structures to ensure enhanced interagency cooperation and consistency of the referral mechanism and its structures with the overall administrative and regulatory framework.

The ultimate goal of the reform process is to ensure an enhanced system of protection of and assistance to the Victims of Trafficking (VOTs). The invigorated investigation and prosecution efforts of the country have also been tackled by supporting the work of the National Task Force for Countering Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons in the organization of meetings of the prosecutors and investigators specialized in counter-trafficking across all levels of authority.

“Ministry of Security and the Office of the State Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings will, together with the competent entity, Brčko District and cantonal institutions, continue their efforts aimed at improving the countering-trafficking system in BiH. The USAID-funded and IOM implemented project plays a particularly important role in the ongoing process of reforming the national referral mechanism and capacitating its members to proactively identify cases of human trafficking, as well as intensifying investigation and prosecution of traffickers,” said Samir Rizvo, National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator.

“This year the US marks a major milestone—the 20th anniversary of the worldwide TIP Report. This report proclaims BiH as a country of origin, transit, and destination for the trafficking of adults and children. Forms of trafficking in BiH include sexual services in private apartments and motels, forced begging, and domestic servitude. Due to lack of progress in fighting TIP, in 2020 BiH remained on the watchlist for the third consecutive year.

If BiH wants to avoid an automatic downgrade to Tier 3 next year a lot more needs to be done in the next 10 months. BiH governments at all levels must work on better identification of victims, better direct assistance to victims and more vigorous prosecutions of perpetrators. We need to work together on this important issue.

With the support of USAID and INL The Project will continue in supporting the local authorities in its counter-trafficking efforts both through institutional capacity building to enhance proactive identification, protection and assistance to the victims of trafficking, as well as to enhance the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of this grave crime and gross violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms,” said Nancy Eslick, USAID Mission Director.

“On the occasion of World Day against Trafficking in Persons it is important to remind ourselves that this crime invariably affects the most vulnerable amongst us. So when authorities and institutions fail to investigate, prosecute and convict, they are not just failing to uphold the law or falling short of their international obligations, they are failing to protect those that need it most.

IOM is proud of the work it does, together with its partners USAID and INL, to support authorities in BiH to fight Trafficking in Persons and to protect and support those who fall victim to it. But, as IOM Chief of Mission, I am also painfully aware that, as long as trafficking in persons remains prevalent in BiH, we, collectively, are not doing enough.

This World Day against Trafficking in Persons should also be a moment for all us to ask ourselves, what more can and should we do to end this heinous crime,” concluded in a statement Peter Van der Auweraert, IOM Chief of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.