Balkans Declaration signed in Zagreb!
The City of Zagreb, Croatia, hosted the Conference and signing ceremony of the Balkans Declaration on Trafficking and Exploitation of Human Beings on September 19, 2013. The event was organized under the project BALKANS ACT (Against Crime of Trafficking) NOW! of which the Netherlands Helsinki Committee is a partner.
The aim of the Balkans Declaration on Trafficking and Exploitation of Human Beings is to further develop national, regional and international co-operation, promote concrete measures and standards, best practices and mechanisms in tackling the issue of human trafficking. In addition, the document addresses THB prevention, protection and assistance to victims and cooperation with public bodies. The Declaration also underlines countries’ international obligations pertaining to eradication of this heinous crime.
The Declaration was signed by four organizations involved in implementation of the project – ASTRA – Anti Trafficking Action (Serbia), Partnership for Social Development (Croatia), IFS EMMAUS (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Open Gate – La Strada (FYR Macedonia). In the following months intensive efforts will be put into encouraging other civil society organizations to sign the Declaration. Dozens of European organizations are expected to join their efforts in combating trafficking by supporting this document.
On the signing ceremony, the four CSOs from the Western Balkans region shared their experience in combating trafficking in human beings and outlined necessary measures for improving implementation and impact of policies against organized crime and human trafficking.
Croatia, Serbia, FYR Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina unanimously concluded that there are numerous shortcomings in the fight against human trafficking and organised crime. Therefore, the relevant authorities need to further strengthen their impact in solving these problems. With regards to that, the importance of regional cooperation in combating these cross-border organized crime acts, both on civil society and institutional level, was stressed at the event.
Current situation in the field of fight against human trafficking in Serbia, FYR of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia shows that every country is proved to be a country of origin, transit and destination for men, women and children who are trafficked internally or internationally for the purpose of sexual and labour exploitation, forced begging, forced marriage, and other forms of exploitation.
Regional partnership on the project Balkans ACT Now! is directed towards addressing downfalls in justice sector, specifically court proceedings in relation to cases of human trafficking including inefficient investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and ineffective protection of victims in compliance with fundamental rights and EU standards. Therefore, the partnership is of great significance for establishing a democratic society in the region, free of all forms of exploitation and other forms of human rights violations.
To read the Balkans Declaration in its entirety, click here.