European Anti-Trafficking Day to raise awareness of people fleeing war in Ukraine

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On 18 October this year, European Anti-Trafficking Day, the National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force is focusing on raising awareness of the exposure to human trafficking of people fleeing war in Ukraine.

Since the outbreak of the crisis, the countries most affected by the influx of people fleeing the war have made great efforts to react accordingly and welcome these people, while international organizations warning against the exposure of this vulnerable group to exploitation and human trafficking. To this end, the Joint Anti-Trafficking Plan was adopted in May 2022 to manage the risks of human trafficking and support potential victims among people fleeing war in Ukraine.

Among other things, the plan provides for the strengthening of prevention activities in the Member States with regard to raising awareness of the risks of human trafficking and measures for the rapid identification of potential victims and their support and protection. The decisive answer of the entire international community and its effective preventive action are the probable reasons why the number of cases of human trafficking among people fleeing the war in Ukraine is low.

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Slovenian police found no victims of human trafficking

This year, the Slovenian police dealt with six criminal offenses of human trafficking. It identified six victims (all women) and 24 perpetrators of this criminal offence. In relation to Ukrainian citizensthe Slovenian police handled several cases this year in which the circumstances indicated human trafficking but, based on the information and evidence gathered, the police found no victims of human trafficking.

Among the forms of human trafficking, exploitation for prostitution and sexual abuse prevails in Slovenia, while other forms of this criminal offense are rare. In general, Slovenia is seen as a target country for the exploitation of victims of human trafficking and as a transit country for people from South-East Europe who continue their journey to other Member States from the EU via Slovenia.

National Task Force on Combating Human Trafficking

The National Working Group on Combating Human Trafficking ensures the consistent implementation of the measures of the plan for the prevention, detection and investigation of these criminal offenses in Slovenia. On the occasion of the European Anti-Trafficking Day, the working group, in cooperation with the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the Network of National Counter-Trafficking Coordinators in South East (NATC SEE), will carry out an online campaign between October 18-21, 2022 that will target vulnerable groups as well as the general public and experts.

NATC SEE representatives adopted a joint statement on the occasion of the European Anti-Trafficking Day which highlights key recommendations for the prevention of human trafficking involving people fleeing war in Ukraine. Critical measures recommended include:

  • provide access to information regarding registration, helplines and support services available to refugees, and
  • inform all stakeholders who have contact with the vulnerable group of potential security, exploitation and human trafficking risks.

Competent authorities should also seek to actively identify violations of workers’ rights and organize regular training of law enforcement and labor inspectors on human trafficking with the aim of identifying forced labor and labor exploitation. In addition, state authorities must support civil society organizations that help potential victims of human trafficking and refugees to access the labor market and language and vocational training courses. Network members also call for the compulsory registration of unaccompanied minors, who must be assured of age-appropriate protection and support, including access to regular education.

Background

NATC SEE was established in October 2010 on the initiative of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Slovenia and consists of eleven countries in the region. Within the network, national anti-trafficking coordinators discuss current trends and challenges in human trafficking and harmonize policies in this area. With the support of the ICMPD, which provides expert and administrative assistance, the Network has become one of the most important forums for cooperation in the fight against human trafficking in the region.

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