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NHC Organises Anti-trafficking Workshop at IX Symposium for Prosecutors in Bosnia and Herzegovina

07 December 2016

The Netherlands Helsinki Committee, together with local NGO partner International Forum of Solidarity – EMMAUS (IFS-EMMAUS), the OSCE mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Dutch Judicial Academy from the Netherlands (Studiecentrum Rechtspleging) organised a two-day anti-trafficking workshop for the IX Symposium for prosecutors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides trafficking in human beings, the regional meeting for prosecutors addressed different topics such as corruption, economic and organised crime, and war crimes.

The workshop was organised by the Association of Prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in cooperation with the Centers for Education of Judges and Prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, IFS-EMMAUS, the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNICEF and the British Embassy in BiH and the Centre for Criminal Policy Research, in Neum (BiH). The workshop took place on September 28-30.

The anti-trafficking workshop was organised by three trainers. One of them was a child psychologist who discussed interviewing techniques with children. The psychologist explained how much work and time is needed to prepare children who are victims of trafficking for hearings and for giving statements. In Bosnia and Herzegovina there are not many courts who use specialized and experienced child psychologists to prepare minor witnesses. Children can easily be re-traumatized in the court proceedings when they are not assessed and prepared properly by a child psychologist.

In case the psychologist decides that the child is unable to testify due to the psychological state of the child or other reasons, this analysis should have consequences in order to avoid secondary victimisation. Unfortunately children and adult victims of human trafficking are often pressured to cooperate as witnesses in human trafficking cases. Focusing on getting detailed testimonies from victims is a relatively easy way for the prosecution and judge to collect the evidence that proves the guilt of the defendants. This is a common practice, even though it is well-known by experts that traumatized victims are often not capable of providing quality and consistent statements. At least this is the case when the proper help of experts such as psychologists can not be provided. Better alternatives to acquire testimonies of victims in these cases are investing in proactive investigation and avoiding confrontations between victims and defendants in the courtroom.

The other two trainers of this two day anti-trafficking workshop were prosecutor Ms. Advija Hajdo-Balta and judge Ms. Adisa Zahiragic. They have been trained for 3 years under this project by Dutch trainers (judges, prosecutors, other trainers from the Dutch Judicial Academy) to become trainers themselves and to educate their peers in trafficking in human being’s related expertise and skills. This workshop for approximately 25 judges and prosecutors was their second training within this project. The training dealt with the definition of trafficking, as well as how to interview and treat victims of trafficking who act as witnesses in court proceedings. The workshop also promoted the involvement of psychologists where minors are concerned.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina more and more children are identified as victims of trafficking. They are exploited for forced begging and other exploitation purposes.

For more information about trafficking in human beings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, please read the THB Report for 2015, produced by IFS-EMMAUS