Judicial Handling of Trafficking Cases in Kosovo a Concern, says OSCE Official
Thursday, November 1, 2007 10:49 AM

PRISTINA, 30 October 2007 - Kosovo has made progress with efforts to fight trafficking, but improvements in the way trafficking cases are handled are still needed, according to an OSCE Mission report published today.

"All authorities involved in the prosecution of the offence of trafficking should be committed to addressing and securing the safety and well being of trafficking victims," said Ambassador Tim Guldimann, Head of the OSCE Mission. "We hope that the issues brought forward are reflected into action in this crucial area."

The OSCE's latest review addresses the issue of trafficking in human beings, in particular how judicial authorities handle cases which come before the courts. The report specifically focuses on problems which appear to be systemic within the judicial system, including addressing the rights of the victims of trafficking and the right to a fair trial.

Among the main areas of concern are:

  • Trafficking victims not receiving the basic guarantees provided by law, and sometimes being threatened with prosecution;
  • A failure to identify or appropriately treat trafficking victims;
  • A failure to apply adequate witness protection measures; and
  • The courts' and prosecutors' failure to understand all the elements of trafficking crimes.

The report urges authorities to tackle deficiencies in the applicable law to ensure that witnesses are properly protected, and that trafficking and related criminal offences are properly classified. It recommends that the Supreme Court of Kosovo give guidance to the courts on consistent handling of trafficking cases.

The Kosovo Judicial Institute and the Chamber of Advocates should also continue to perform an educational role in providing training for legal officials to ensure that human rights are fully promoted and protected.

"Trafficking in human beings are difficult cases for the judicial sector to tackle; however, through a dedicated and coordinated approach, much can be done to eradicate the occurrence of this terrible crime," said Henry McGowen, Director of the Mission's Human Rights, Decentralization and Communities Department.

The OSCE - mandated with monitoring human rights in Kosovo - applies a human rights perspective to its monitoring of the judicial system. Its work has been used to assist UNMIK in creating a more effective justice system closer to international standards.

For access to the full OSCE Mission Report, see A Legal Analysis of Trafficking in Persons Cases in Kosovo: October 2007.

Published in: "Judicial Handling of Trafficking Cases in Kosovo a Concern, says OSCE Official," Press Release, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), 30 October 2007.