OSCE Mission to Skopje Supports Co-ordination Mechanism to Help Trafficking Victims
Friday, April 18, 2008 3:42 PM

How to identify trafficking victims and provide the right assistance is a challenge that the OSCE Mission to Skopje is helping the Government to address with the recent adoption of new guidelines on the proper treatment of trafficked persons.

The Standard Operating Procedures for Treatment of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings is a key document that envisages the co-ordination of procedures by state and non-state structures to support and protect the victims of human trafficking on both a national and international level.

"Experts understood the need to create a unified co-ordination mechanism," says Melita Gruevska Graham of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). "The Standard Operating Procedures complement the Transnational Referral Mechanism (TRM), which helps foreign victims, and the National Referral Mechanism, which deals with national victims."

Joint working group

The driving force behind the working group which developed the Standard Operating Procedures was the National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings. Experts from the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Labour and Social Policy, the Public Prosecutor's Office, and the judiciary, as well as two civil society organizations, Open Gate/La Strada and Happy Childhood, worked together to adapt the TRM guidelines to the local situation.

The OSCE Mission to Skopje, jointly with the International Organization for Migration and the ICMPD, provided expert advice and technical aid throughout the drafting process.

This was possible because, as Donald Bisson, the Head of the Mission's Rule of Law Department, explains, "the country's solid legislative framework provides a basis for the functioning of effective mechanisms and structures to prevent the crime as well as to help actual victims of trafficking."

Who, what, when and how

The Standard Operating Procedures strongly emphasize that trafficking victims must be assisted in such a way as to ensure that their human rights are fully respected and their confidentiality and security is guaranteed.

The five sections of the Standard Operating Procedures explain the following:

  • How to identify an alleged victim, safely refer them to the competent authority and satisfy their basic needs;
  • Which institutions should provide initial care and mid-term assistance to the alleged victim (including health care, legal aid and contacts with the authorities and family in the country of origin);
  • Which institutions should assist the victim to obtain all necessary documents for safe and voluntary return to the country of origin;
  • Which institutions should assist the victim and their family to reintegrate back to the family and local community; and
  • Which institutions should provide the necessary legal and psychological aid in case of criminal proceedings and trial where the victim might participate as a witness.

"The clear, simple language of the document and its user-friendly structure make it very practical," says Kiro Todorovski, the Secretary of the National Commission to Combat Human Trafficking and State Councilor at the Ministry of Interior.

"It describes the measures to be taken by relevant agencies, how they should be implemented and how to co-ordinate steps among all partners and institutions. For example, a police officer can concentrate on the section that guides their particular actions and with which institutions they should co-ordinate these actions."

Nationwide training sessions

In order to implement the Standard Operating Procedures, a series of training sessions began in March. Experts from all of the institutions involved were initially trained as trainers and are now conducting further training for their counterparts nationwide.

As Kiro Todorovski notes: "The development and adoption of this document, as well as the design of the training curriculum, is a great example of effective communication and information-sharing among many state and non-state institutions, which has not always been the case.

"I very much hope that the implementation on the national and trans-national level will be effective as well. From our side, we will do everything possible to make it happen."

Monica Portillo, Anti-Trafficking Programme Director at the Mission, is keen to emphasize its other successful initiatives in combating trafficking, including the establishment of the first NGO-managed shelter for victims and the opening of the National Referral Mechanism Co-ordination Office.

"When I realize how much has been achieved by our dedicated partners and how many people have actually been saved, it gives us a tremendous incentive to continue our work," she says.

Written by Maria Dotsenko

14 April 2008

Published in: "OSCE Feature: OSCE Mission to Skopje Supports Co-ordination Mechanism to Help Trafficking Victims," Maria Dotsenko, OSCE, 14, April 2008.