Helinski Conference Calls for Wider Cooperation to Assist Trafficking Victims
Friday, September 24, 2004 10:50 AM

A conference organized by the OSCE’s office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights addressing the protection of victims of trafficking drew to a close today after finalizing a set of recommendations which will serve as a basis for future work of OSCE States to combat trafficking.

Participants of the conference emphasized the obligation of States to protect the rights of victims and urged increased cooperation between authorities, international organizations and civil society, including law enforcement agencies and NGOs. Participants also stressed the importance of improved victim identification processes and the need for strengthened social inclusion, victim protection, and gender equality as well as measures to fight prejudice.

Madeline Rees, Head of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Bosnia and Herzegovina said of the conference's recommendations: "It is important that we realize that the reality of trafficking changes constantly, and that we must react to it accordingly."

Conference participants argued the need for a methodology similar to the National Referral Mechanisms adopted in parts of Europe to compile information and figures on trafficking. Such a methodology would allow OSCE States to collaborate on providing assistance to trafficking victims.

Finally, participants suggested the establishment of an independent National Rapporteur in each OSCE country to advise authorities on action against trafficking.

"All of the trafficked people have their tragic story to tell, and a clear wish to retrieve their human dignity. I think we have an obligation to give them both hope and concrete action," said Elisabeth Rehn, Chair of the Working Table on Human Rights and Democratization within the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.

Compiled from: OSCE/ODIHR conference in Helsinki calls for wider co-operation to assist victims of trafficking, OSCE Online, News, 24 September, 2004.