Ministry of Interior

Deputy Minister

National Coordinator on the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings

Short-term priorities for the prevention and fight against trafficking in human beings and some of the main achievements in 2006

In line with the three main directions in the fight against human trafficking: a) investigate and prosecute trafficking related crimes; b) protect and integrate trafficking victims and protect witnesses of justice; and c) prevent the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings in the country, the Office of the National Coordinator for the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings, as the key point for coordinating anti-trafficking efforts in the country, has mainly focused on: i) The establishment of national referral structures for victims of trafficking both at central and local level, and make them function efficiently; ii) Better managing the borders of the country and controlling illegal migration; iii) Controlling internal trafficking of children and women which has become the latest trend; iv) Raising the standard of victim identification and protection in general in the country; v) Increasing prevention activities; vi) Increasing awareness of the people who work in assistance services.

Some of the main achievements for 2006, focusing on the three main directions of prosecution, prevention and protection:

1. A Responsible Authority was established by joint order of the Minister of Interior, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities in May 2006, composed of representatives from the Border and Anti-trafficking Sectors, Consular Directorate and Social Service Directorate, to coordinate the referral process for initial assistance and protection and long-term rehabilitation of all victims of trafficking in close cooperation with the above mentioned ministries, other involved institutions and shelter centers for victims of trafficking; The aim is to activate the Responsible Authority as a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for cases of victims of trafficking, at a national and international level, and provide them with protection;

2. A Database is in the final stage of being established within the Responsible Authority, where representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Centers of Protection of Victims of Trafficking will record cases of victims returned, referred, handled and protected in Albania and abroad;

3. Local Anti-trafficking Committees have been established by order of the Prime Minister in June 2006; they will play an important role in assessing vulnerable social and economic groups, in identifying cases of potential victims of trafficking etc. The committee is comprised of main local actors such as representatives from police directorates, social services, education and health services, representatives from local government etc.;

4. A “Help line” – a country-wide, toll-free telephone line for denouncing cases of trafficking and receiving necessary information on issues relating to trafficking and safe migration, has been established;

5. In May 2006, the Albanian Parliament ratified the Agreement between the Government of the Hellenic Republic and the Government of the Republic of Albania, on Protection and Assistance to Children Victims of Trafficking, signed by both parties in February 2006. Ratification of this agreement by the Greek Parliament is expected in the first quarter of the year 2007. While the agreement is in process of being ratified by the Greek parliament, there have been ongoing contacts with the Greek counterparts, such as the Greek Embassy in Tirana as well as meeting in Athens by the National Coordinator, as a preparatory step to organizing meetings between the Responsible Authorities of the two countries which will monitor the implementation of this agreement, and discuss concrete steps to be taken after it enters into force;

6. In the framework of legal amendments to the Criminal Code, initiated by the Office of the National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator for Combating Trafficking of Human Beings, an amendment to Article 298 of the Criminal Code was approved by the Council of Ministers; this amendment introduces the new element of the crime of smuggling of human beings across borders other than those of Albania;

7. Also, a new provision against the Exploitation of Children for Forced Labor Purposes has been introduced in the Criminal Code, which will be accompanied by a new social-educational package of assistance for these children and their families in the form of employment, education and other kinds of aid;

8. A positive development in the fight against organized crime in general and trafficking of human beings in particular was the law “On the Moratorium of vessels and boats”, which stops the use small boats in Albanian territorial waters for a period of three years for the purpose of fighting illegal trafficking mainly to Italy;

9. Reactivation of the reception center at Rinas Airport for returnees and potential victims of trafficking, creation by border police of standard procedures for interviewing; registration of pertinent data in a single system and building up of the necessary logistical infrastructure for such a purpose started some months ago. These facilities will continue to improve Albania’s performance and be expanded to all main border crossing checkpoints. Training sessions have been conducted and more are in process for the personnel of the main structures involved in this process;

10. Training sessions have been conducted for police officers, in the provision of legal and psychological assistance to child victims, witnesses or those at risk of trafficking

11. Joint meetings with members of police, prosecutors and judges have been organized with regard to victims of trafficking, in order to increase their awareness of the special profile and specialized assistance that a victim of trafficking needs;

12. The process of equipping the Serious Crimes’ Court with the necessary technical elements has begun for the protection and the safety of victims of trafficking, who will testify in trials by videoconferencing;

13. Training seminars in cooperation with international actors and representatives of civil society, with target groups of media representatives, who deal with cases of human trafficking, as well as roundtable discussion on the Situation of Street Children to prevent further harm have been conducted;

14. In order to enhance cooperation with other actors, agreements have been signed with domestic and foreign agencies and organizations involved in the fight against trafficking;

15. Awareness campaigns to inform and teach citizens, especially young people, about the risks, likelihood and causes of trafficking in humans, and brochures are in preparation to be issued by foreign and Albanian consular staff advising on the risks of trafficking and the help available abroad and in Albania;

16. All of this and more achievements in this field according to the three main pillars of the fight against human trafficking (prosecution, protection and prevention) are being compiled periodically in the 6-month and yearly reports on the Implementation of the Albanian National Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings 2005-2007, which is being distributed to all interested actors.

Based on the above main achievements in 2006, the following objectives have been identified for the first six months of 2007, with regard to anti-trafficking priorities:

1. Continue to develop the Responsible Authority as a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for cases of victims of trafficking, at a national level and providing them with protection in close cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities as well as shelters accommodating victims of trafficking;

2. Establish contacts between the Albanian Responsible Authority and Responsible Authorities for NRM’s in neighboring countries, such as FYROM, Kosovo, Montenegro, other countries in the region and also with destination countries, such as Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, etc.;

3. Complete the Database for cases of victims returned, referred, handled and protected in Albania;

4. In the context of Regional Anti-trafficking Committees, launch preventative measures, commence local campaigns to remove children from the streets, register them in schools, fight against regular prostitution etc., in cooperation between police, prosecutor’s office, social services represented on the Committees etc.;

5. Following the ratification of the Agreement with Greece on protection and assistance to child victims of trafficking, by the Greek Parliament, undertake further steps in implementing it, beginning with the identification and return of Albanian children residing in Greece to Albania;

6. Prepare new agreements for the protection of victims of trafficking also with other countries in the region, enlarging the field of activity not only for children but also for other vulnerable groups, and with other destination countries of EU, as well (e.g. Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, etc.);

7. Regulate by law the provision to foreign victims of trafficking of temporary residence permits, in the context of the drafting and approval of the new Albanian law “On Foreigners”, in full accordance with international standards;

8. Establish direct contacts between representatives of regional committees in border regions of Albania and representatives of border regions in neighboring countries, in order to exchange timely information about Albanian children who are present as beggars and Albanian women and girls who are exploited across the border, etc. This will expedite the adoption of measures within a short time on both sides of the border;

9. Establish a screening procedure at the border by border and anti-trafficking police for returned, inadmissible and deported people from third countries to Albania and activate the reception centers for returnees at all main border checkpoints for actual and potential victims of trafficking, which is an ongoing process in order to achieve acquired international standards;

10. Finalize a Strategy for Integrated Border Management to combine work of Border Police, Transport authorities, Customs services, as well as Phytto-Sanitary Services;

11. Initiate a campaign with the Ministry of Tourism to compile a Joint Operational Regulation for the Tourism Agencies that prohibits the sexual exploitation of women and children on hotel premises;

12. Sign an agreement with Ministry of Education and Science on the inclusion in the obligatory school curricula of a cycle of topics on trafficking in human beings, and on the opening of special classes for children who do not attend school or children that have dropped out of school;

13. Create standards for legal and physical protection of victims of trafficking/witnesses of justice in the criminal process in court by introducing the Video-Teleconferencing Equipment and related witness security techniques;

14. Provide for Victim compensation by utilizing seizures of properties criminally assembled by the traffickers, and drafting a government decision on how to handle the criminal assets confiscated from Organized Crime groups. A mixed board will be set up to decide on each asset and divide it for social purposes, local government and law enforcement agencies as well as for victim compensation up to 40% of the confiscated assets;

15. Continue TV awareness campaigns to inform and teach citizens, especially young people, about the risks, likelihood and causes of trafficking in humans and producing brochures to be issued by foreign and Albanian consular staff advising on the risks of trafficking and the help available abroad and in Albania;

16. Raise funds for professional training and create employment opportunities for victims of trafficking with the intermediation of Regional Committees, Employment Offices, local businesses, etc.;

17. Prepare and finalize standard coordinated cooperation agreements between the Ministry of Interior (Responsible Authority) and NGO’s as well as international organizations that are involved in the fight against trafficking in human beings, identifying obligations and responsibilities for every party, especially with regard to sharing of information and coordinated reporting;

Besides the above objectives, all involved institutions, ministries, independent state institutions and other actors are obliged to perform concrete anti-trafficking measures according to specific objectives, as foreseen in the National Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings 2005-2007, and report periodically on achievements and problems encountered during implementation, to the office of National Anti-trafficking Coordinator.

The above objectives are based on what we consider as priorities. Their achievement depends on the commitment of all the involved actors and on close and strict monitoring from above. The issue of trafficking in humans will be addressed in an adequate manner only if social problems become a concern for all government agencies. Support by the Government and the Office of National Coordinator for Anti-trafficking in this area is total and unconditional.