Representatives and international experts from distinguished anti-trafficking organisations across Europe gathered at the conference “Enhancing the anti-trafficking identification, prevention and support mechanisms”, that was organized by KMOP – Social Action and Innovation Centre in Brussels, on September 27, to discuss and exchange ideas and best practices towards ensuring better and more effective coordination of protection and response mechanisms against trafficking in human beings.
Among the organizations that participated in the conference were the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Victim Support Europe (VSE), the International Rescue Committee Germany, as well as the Federal Judicial Police of Brussels.
According to the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report (2022), that was presented by Marina Ntonopoulou, Director at A21, 49.6 million people are living in modern slavery, one of every 150 people in the world. At the same time, 27.6 million people are in forced labour, of whom 6.3 million are in situations of forced commercial sexual exploitation. Νearly four out of every five people are girls and women.
Tatiana Kotlyarenko, Advisor on Anti-Trafficking Issues at OSCE/ODIHR, analyzed the importance and the role of the National Referral Mechanisms in emergency situations, focusing on the case of Ukraine. The Ukrainian crisis has created new trafficking risks, as more than 12 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, with the majority of them being women and children, the primary targets for trafficking.
Anniina Jokinen, Senior Programme Officer – HEUNI, the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations, Finland, presented the initiative ELECT HTB, that has been developed in close cooperation with law enforcement and other authorities in Finland, Estonia and Latvia to strengthen the knowledge of and approach to human trafficking.
Professor Dr. Vasiliki Artinopoulou, Director of the ‘Restorative Justice and Mediation Lab’ at Panteion University of Athens, talked about the challenges and gaps that exist in criminal justice responses to trafficking and its victims, and highlighted the need for a victim-centered approach.
Patrick Bourgeois, Head of THB Department – Federal Juridical Police of Belgium, and Solène Baudouin, Policy Assistant –Victim Support Europe, Belgium, participated in the panel discussion regarding best practices against trafficking in human beings, while Antoaneta Vassileva, GRETA’s First Vice-President, presented policies and solutions towards combatting trafficking.
Among the international speakers and experts that participated in the conference were Dr Sabine Bauer-Amin, International Rescue Committee Germany, Tommy Calmels, Programme and Policy Assistant, IOM Regional Office for the EEA, the EU and NATO in Brussels, Ruta Grigaliunaite, Project Manager, CESIE, Nadia Kozhouharova, Anti-Trafficking Programme Coordinator, Animus Association Foundation, Chryssa Sotiriou, Coordinator of the ACTIVATE project, KMOP, Giulia Fioravanti from Differenza Donna and Hasmik Manukyan from SOLWODI, Rawan Shrum, Co-founder and Executive Director, The Justice Project, Laurent Delbos, Head of Advocacy, Forum Réfugiés, and Robbert Leysen, Project Manager, Payoke.
The conference was organised as part of the ACTIVATE project which aims to contribute to the eradication of trafficking and support of VoTs, by enhancing the prevention, identification and support mechanisms against trafficking in human beings, with a special focus on Victims of Trafficking for sexual exploitation. Among the project’s milestones, that were presented in the conference, is the e-learning tool that has been developed and will be soon available to both the professionals working in the reception and identification centres and lawyers working with presumed and potential VoTs of sexual exploitation.
ACTIVATE (project number: 957948) was funded with the support of the European Union under the AMIF (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) programme and was implemented in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Germany by 4 organisations: Differenza Donna Associazione, KMOP – Social Action and Innovation Centre, Animus Association Foundation and Solwodi. It started on October 2020 and had a duration of 24 months. For more information, please visit https://www.activateproject.eu/.