Ten years of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
1 October 2015

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mission to Moldova, and the Government of the Republic of Moldova have the honor to announce the conclusion of the Regional Conference “Ten years of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings: Results and Perspectives in Eastern Europe (Belarus, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine)”.

The event was be held at Codru Hotel, Chisinau, on 29-30 September 2015, within the framework of the Programme against Human Trafficking in Eastern Europe, funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and co-funded by the U.S. Department of State.

The 2-days Conference organized by IOM Moldova in partnership with the National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the Republic of Moldova, has brought together participants (government agencies and non-government organizations) from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus, as well as representatives of the Council of Europe, European Commission and international NGOs.

The event was dedicated to the European Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which was opened for signature on 16 May 2005 in Warsaw and has since then been ratified by 43 countries, including Moldova (19 May 2006), Ukraine (29 November 2010) and Belarus (26 November 2013, thus becoming the first non-member state to join this treaty, ratified on the 1st of March 2014)

The Conference was aimed at providing a platform for the representatives of governments, civil society and international experts, discussing the results achieved, as well as the challenges entailed by the implementation of the standards provided under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. It will have a particular focus on the way it affected the state of human rights in the respective countries. Among others, it sought to tackle the following issues: national counter-trafficking coordination mechanisms, effective protection and access to justice for the victims of trafficking in human beings, and the changing role of NGOs in the counter-trafficking area.

The Conference has commenced with the opening speech of the high guests: Ms. Daniela Cujba speaking on behalf of the Chair of the National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Mr. Mircea Buga – The Minister of Labor, Mr. Antonio Polosa – the Chief of IOM Mission in Moldova, as well as the representative of the Royal Norwegian Embassy - Herman Baskårand the US ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, his excellency James D. Pettit.. All of the high guests have highlighted the necessity of continuance of common efforts consolidation in fighting trafficking in human beings. Moreover, they have emphasizedboth the successes achieved during the period of existence of the Convention, as well as the new challenges – the nearly steady number of victims, the necessity to treat the victim with dignity and precaution, as well as the need to continuously provide support and assistance for those who have become victims of trafficking, as well to ensure that those who are vulnerable will not fall into the hands of traffickers.

The Event has brought different perspectives upon the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings, the ways in which it should be fought, as well as the experiences of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus in their struggle with different aspects of the THB. Furthermore, there were discussed the practical and theoretical aspects of partnership framework between various stakeholders, where the representatives of Serbia, Romania, Czech Republic and other, in addition to those mentioned afore, have shared the best practices of the member states to the Convention regarding the national mechanisms for monitoring the activities of state institutions and the implementations of national legislation requirements.

The participants have shared their opinions upon the problematic structural aspects of the protection the national legislation of the mentioned states offers for the victims of human trafficking and the best practices regarding the right to access to justice is ensured. Participants have discussed the developments of the national policies and legal provisions in the light of changing social, political and economic situation in the region, among others the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and its relevance for the fight against THB being explored. The protection of victims in the context of protection of witnesses, the protection of private data and the necessity of ensuring enhanced security for the victims and witnesses within and beyond the criminal process have been discussed.

Recognizing the utmost importance of the NGOs among other stakeholders in fighting the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings, the representatives of the front-rank NGOs in the field of anti-trafficking have discussed the principles of cooperation of NGOs with the state bodies, different models thereof, as well as the evolution of cooperation principles. In light of the EU policies and legal framework and the GRETA recommendations, the participants have highlighted the current problems, as well as elaborated upon the prospects of their furtherance.

Despite the time difference in the accession to the Convention, all three countries embarked on important initiatives aiming at constructing a comprehensive and efficient counter-trafficking systems based on the observance of human rights: legal and institutional frameworks are being brought in line with the Convention’s requirements; assistance and protection services are made available through National Referral Mechanisms; various partnership models are piloted and advanced.

At the same time many challenges are still in place for the Governments in their effort to transpose the Convention’s standards into practice. While THB is criminalized in all three countries and even treated as a priority area by the law enforcement bodies, criminal rings continue to extract enormous profit from exploitation of the most vulnerable and elude criminal responsibility. Economic and financial hardship translates into insufficient funding by the governments of services for victims and anti-trafficking work in general. Political instability and military conflict (growing number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine) further exacerbate existing problems and pose additional challenges in combating THB. Bureaucracy and corruption may additionally affect counter-trafficking efforts at all levels and impede the implementation of anti-trafficking legislation. Victims often lack access to justice or legal redress, including compensation for the damages suffered.

Nevertheless, there is space for improvement left, whereas the governments are willing to engage in a constructive dialogue. In any event, the two camps tend to have opposing opinions on many issues, and this single fact triggers the necessity for the arrangement of further discussion forums.

To find out more about the Conference, please contact:

Viorica Olaru, PR & Communication Officer, volaru@iom.int, +373 69643819

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