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Start Anti Human Trafficking project in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia

01 February 2013

In January 2013, The Netherlands Helsinki Committee has started with the implementation of the anti-trafficking project “Promotion of the Rights of Trafficked Persons in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia with Emphasis on Legal Support – A Human Rights-Based Approach”. This project has been awarded a grant by the European Commission under the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme (ISEC). During the coming 3 years of project duration, the NHC will cooperate with the following partner organisations: Animus, Caritas Ruse (Bulgaria), ADPARE, Association Pro Refugiu (Romania) and Human Rights League (Slovakia). Next to these project partners, Marjan Wijers as an anti-trafficking key-expert and other (inter)national experts will be involved in the project activities.

Although in all European countries trafficking is criminalized, the protection of the rights of trafficked persons is not viewed as a priority by authorities. The project therefore aims at improving the position of trafficked persons as victims and witnesses by ensuring that they are adequately informed of their rights and have access to trained and qualified lawyers. These lawyers are on their part able and willing to provide legal support and defend their interests during criminal investigation and proceedings. Therefore, the project will focus at increasing knowledge of Bulgarian, Slovak and Romanian lawyers and social workers on the protection of the rights of trafficked persons while promoting a victim centered approach. Next to this, the project will contribute to increased capacity of local NGOs to effectively advocate for the protection and promotion of victims rights.

The first issue to be addressed is the development of knowledge regarding the flows of existing legal practice in the three countries. In order to support this action, a series of activities need to be conducted in the areas of national research, data collection and analysis.  Since the project aims at spreading awareness on the rights of human traffic victims and witnesses, the end product is the creation of a leaflet which is serving as a tool all major organisations that are in contact with potential victims of trafficking to inform them of their rights.

Further on, the project aims at the creation of a sustainable network of professional and qualified lawyers to be trained in providing high quality legal aid to trafficked persons and represent them in court. Thus, the recruitment of the lawyers is a critical step as the project is focused on constantly enhancing the size and capability of this network. The last activity of the project aims at providing recommendations to all the relevant authorities and institutions, according to the process of monitoring court cases in which both students and experts will be involved.