report: Round table on Trafficking of Roma children in Albania, Strasbourg,
Purpose of the meeting
Mr Henry Scicluna,Council of Europe Coordinator for Roma and Travellers
Ms Eleni Tsetsekou, Administrator
Mr Javier Cabrera, Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights
The purpose of the Round Table was to enhance bilateral cooperation between
Greece and Albania on a human rights issue – child trafficking –which in recent
years had assumed dangerous proportions. As a hum an rights issue the Council of
Europe is particularly interested in this phenomenon and is at the moment
preparing a European Convention on trafficking of human beings.
The Commissioner of Human Rights attached great importance to the fight against
the trafficking of Roma children
The Round Table was not intended to linger on past mistakes but to focus on
cooperation between the two countries with a view to reaching practical
solutions. Without cooperation, child trafficking became easier and more
widespread. Interest, awareness and goodwill existed in both countries and
significant reforms have been carried out. Certain areas, however, required
greater efforts: cooperation between the judiciary and the police, monitoring of
a child victim’s identity in the media, education and employment opportunities,
awareness raising campaign, follow-up by social services.
The Round Table was intended to focus on Roma children. Child trafficking was
discernible in vulnerable groups and was often the result of extreme poverty.
The Roma community was undoubtedly the most vulnerable one and traffickers
picked up their victims amongst this community.
Mr Moschos, Greek Deputy Ombudsman
His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of all Albania
Ms Athanassia Sykiotou, independent expert
According to a European Parliament report in 2000, about 500,000 victims of
trafficking enter Western Europe every year. There is however, no reliable data
on the exact number of trafficked persons. Reports on south-eastern Europe show
that 92 per cent of the victims originate mainly from four countries: Albania,
Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria.
Over the last 15 years the opening of the border between Greece and Albania has
given rise to a number of illegal activities, including the trafficking and
exploitation of human beings. This trafficking happens mostly amongst vulnerable
and marginalised groups, and notably the Roma.
The Greek government has taken a number of measures: new legislation, intensive
policing in sensitive areas. The Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs would soon
be operating two shelters of anti-trafficking in Athens and Thessaloniki and a
24 hour telephone line in different languages; and in the next few months the
Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs would be organising training in
Thessaloniki on shelter houses, together with the Ministry of Education.
National preventive strategies, however, were lacking, treatment and care of
unprotected children was weak and welfare services were inadequate. According to
a special research by the Greek Ombudsman on the protection and social
assistance of street children, 487 out of the 644 children placed in welfare
institutions in Athens between 1998 and 2001 had disappeared, seemingly
recuperated by the traffickers.
The Greek and Albanian governments were currently negotiating a bilateral
agreement which will provide the legal framework for their cooperation at
various levels on the issue of child trafficking. The agreement was very close
to being concluded.
There was no information from the Albanian authorities, most of whom were absent
from the Roundtable.
The general discussion centred around the following issues:
The role of the governments
The interest of both the Greek and Albanian government is to protect the
interests of the child who is being trafficked or risks to be trafficked. This
is a job that involves the police, the judiciary, the welfare services and the
Roma community itself, particularly the Roma NGOs.
One of the problems identified is the identity of the trafficked child. There is
a need for screening procedures for identification and for the police to report
on missing children.
Street work needs strengthening and the Greek government should help those NGOs
which were already doing a good job in this respect .Once the children are
picked up from the streets a number of steps have to be taken
One step frequently envisaged is repatriation of the child. The question arises,
however, under what conditions and circumstances repatriation takes place.
Should the child just be handed to the police at the border, without checking
where the child is going to end? Should the courts retain children in Greece if
they know that once repatriated they are going to be worse off than in an
institution in Greece? It is the Greek Ombudsman’s view that the only solution
is to develop a coordinated multi-level strategy and transnational cooperation
for the safe and effective repatriation of the child victims. Repatriation,
however, should only take place if the child is being repatriated to an
appropriate safe and social environment..
While the children are in Greece, but off the street, it is important that they
should be strongly protected in well equipped institutions with a properly
trained staff. The training of social workers is, in this respect, one of the
The appointment of a tutor in Greece who would be replaced by another tutor once
the child is repatriated would not only protect the child in Greece but also
when he is back in Albania..
Police working in the area of child trafficking should also receive training on
how to deal with the children, how to act in different situations and on their
relations with the judiciary.
The role of NGOs
A coalition of 12 anti-trafficking organisations has been set up to combat this
phenomenon more effectively. There is however a need for Roma NGOs to get
involved in the coalition.
Roma children are the most at risk. As a result of extreme poverty they are
given away by their parents in the hope that they can get a better future. The
Roma community knows better than anybody else the extent and nature of the
problem. Not only can that community provide reliable information but it can be
used to make the Roma population aware of the risks of trafficking.
There is also a need for Greek NGOs working on child trafficking to get involved
in the coalition and for a bilateral cooperation between Albanian and Greek
NGOs, including Roma NGOs. Roma NGOs should moreover be involved in the
structures envisaged under the proposed bilateral agreement on child trafficking
between Greece and Albania.
Anti-trafficking organisations need to be verified to ensure that they are
genuinely working in the interests of the children.
The participants at the Round Table agreed that the views expressed and the
conclusions reached at this meeting should be brought to the notice of the Greek
and Albanian governments and proposed to the said governments to take them into
account in the preparation of the bilateral agreement and in any action they
might wish to take in this area.
REPORT OF THE ROUND TABLE ON TRAFFICKING OF THE ROMA CHILDREN IN
ALBANIA: FOSTERING A GREEK-ALBANIAN COPERATION
MONDAY 5TH JULY 2004 – TIRANA
Report prepared by
Chairperson: Henry Scicluna –Coordinator of the Council of Europe Roma/ Gypsy
Importance of the meeting
Mr. Scicluna opened the meeting and welcomed all the participants, including the
representatives of Roma and other international organisations.. He extended a
special welcome to His Beatitude, Archbishop of Albania and to the Greek
ambassador to Albania.. He said that this meeting was very important, firstly
due to the presence of representatives of various Ministries and secondly
because it provides us with the opportunity to tackle the most serious problem
that was unfortunately ravaging European countries. The Council of Europe, as a
Human Right Organization, is interested in human rights issues and has done
considerable work in this area.. At the moment, theCouncil of Europe is
preparing a European convention on trafficking of human beings.
This meeting is also important, from the point of view of getting some of the
countries together- to discuss on measures to be taken. But it is also
important, because it intends to focus more specifically on the problem of
trafficking faced by two countries. The bilateral consultation would make
solutions more feasible and provide some conclusions on the orientation to take
with and on what can be done. As chairman I do not intend to monopolize the
meeting. But I would like to pass an important message. We are not here to
accuse and criticize each other, for things that have not been done. We are here
to talk about the future and what needs to be done . Before coming here I read
two interesting reports; one from Terre des Hommes and the second from the Greek
Ombudsman. These reports show not only awareness in both countries, but also an
interest and good will to do something. In fact few things are already being
done. Still, there are shortcomings. There are several reasons for this. The
main reason is that this problem has acquired enormous proportions almost
overnight and countries are having difficulties in dealing with it. Our purpose
is to work together and to see what can actually be done. I think that this is
the prime objective of this meeting. Otherwise we can leave this meeting without
any conclusions and knowing that things have not been done.
Mrs. Eleni Tsetsekou
Administrator - Council of Europe responsible for Stability Pact and Roma
Ladies and Gentleman, His Beatitude, our meeting today is significant because it
shows the good will of the two countries; Albania and Greece to deal seriously
with one of the most tragic phenomenon of our times- the child trafficking. Why
this bilateral cooperation? Because we believe that in today’s world, most of
the problems have transnational dimensions. Few problems are solved without the
cooperation or coordination among two or more countries. Child trafficking
becomes easy because of the lack of cooperation and joint action by the affected
countries. We hope that today’s meeting will mark the beginning of the bilateral
cooperation, which could open the way for similar initiatives, not only in the
region, but also in Europe. Mr. Cabrera represents the office of the Human
Rights Commissioner and he will talk about this subject later on. In January
this year, when, the CoE Commissioner Mr. Robles, took the first step to address
the issue of child trafficking in Europe, we thought that this could be a very
good start for having a practical follow up. And the Roma & Gypsy Division
decided to have this follow up, on the bilateral cooperation between Albania and
Greece. It is true that over the last decades the trafficking of the human
beings has increased and has become one of the most serious problems of the
human rights violations in Europe. Despite all efforts at national or
international level, creation of special structures,and adoption of legislation,
the trafficking networks are becoming more and more flexible and the number of
the victims is increasing. Now, why has the Roma Division decided to get
involved in this matter? We will all agree, and I hope that our Roma friends
will talk about that later on,- that the victims of trafficking come from
vulnerable groups. The Roma community is actually the most vulnerable community
group in Europe today. The Council of Europe, more specifically, the Roma and
Travellers Division have been working on the protection of human rights of the
Roma population over the last ten years. From the point of view of policy
making, much has been done. Countries are adopting national strategies. Albania
and Greece are also moving in this direction. International organizations like
the Council of Europe are assisting not only in drafting the procedures, but
also in the implementation of the strategies Roma organizations are getting more
and more involved in the decision-making process. When we visit Roma settlements
around Europe, we are confronted with the paradox that the majority of the Roma
communities are still living in unacceptable conditions. This is where the
traffickers find their victims . Here I would like to stress to all the
community leaders, especially the Roma women- because it is very important and
very vital- that they run an awareness campaign within their own community about
the dangers that their children may face, when they leave their country in the
hope of finding a better life, for them and their families.
It is a well known fact that the elderly people and children enjoy a privileged
position in the Roma community. But, very often, the culture of poverty is
stronger then tradition. The first aim of today’s meeting should be to establish
a close cooperation between the competent institutions of both countries,
including the Roma community. The second one would be to formulate a common
strategy. But as I said earlier, no strategy can be successful without the
involvement of the Roma community. The Council of Europe can play a role of the
facilitator in this process..
Mr. Scicluna thanked Mrs. Tsetsekou especially for underlying the fact that the
question of trafficking of children is very much linked with misery and poverty.
In fact, if we go back in history not so long ago, we find examples in some
countries like France, Switzerland, and Italy where children were farmed out to
work and earn money.. This is more a question of living conditions, which
sometimes, force people to engage in criminal activities. I would now like to
give the floor to Mr. Cabrera.
Mr. Javier Cabrera – The Commissioner of Human Rights Office Strasbourg
The Commissioner’s priority
I am addressing this meeting on behalf of Mr. Alvaro Gil-Robles who was unable
to take part in this meeting because of his participation in another meeting in
Barcelona. The enjoyment of human rights by Roma individuals and the community
constitutes one of the Commissioner’s priorities. Even though improvements have
been noticed, the Roma population is still facing obstacles in the enjoyment of
the basic rights such as access to health care, housing, education, and
employment. Discrimination, racism and violation remain a serious concern. The
Commissioner attaches significant importance to the fight against trafficking of
Roma children, especially at this juncture, when, there is a possible increase
in child trafficking due to the forthcoming Olympic games in Athens. Significant
reforms have been made in order to criminalize the numerous offenses related to
the trafficking. However gaps still exist in many countries. Greater effort
needs to be made to harmonize national and international cooperation between the
judiciary and the police. It is necessary to coordinate actions of specialized
agencies, within the framework of the stability pact, which works on the
trafficking of human beings. The Commissioner of Human Rights considers that all
efforts must be concentrated not only on the prosecution of the traffickers but
also in the recognition of the victims’ rights. It is evident that Roma children
are particularly vulnerable. Existing legislation requires more regular
application, and practical mechanisms are not as effective as they should be.
The following areas have been identified as requiring greater efforts:
• Criminal proceedings relying on the testimony of the trafficked children
should be taken, keeping in mind their vulnerability; and weakness protection
procedures need to be incorporated accordingly.
• The exposure of the child victim’s identity in the media should be monitored.
It is necessary to establish mechanisms and infrastructure for receiving
returned victims;and special attention must be paid to the victims who are in
transit or in the country of destination .
• Education and future employment opportunities can play an important part in
the rehabilitation of the trafficked child.
• Education and awareness raising campaigns play an important role in preventing
the trafficking of the Roma children.
• Follow up by social services for the abandoned children; the school could
contribute towards the prevention of the Roma child trafficking.
Trafficking is an international activity that requires an international
response. I hope that this international event will reinforce the cooperation
between the Albanian and Greek governments and would become an example to be
emulated by the rest of European states.
Mr. Cabrera ended his speech by thanking all the participants on behalf of the
Human Rights Commissioner.
Mr. Scicluna thanked Mr. Cabrera for underlying the role-played by social
conditions and also that it was not simply repression and prosecution that will
solve this problem, but also the improvement of social conditions. I would like
to mention that Mr. Guy-Michael Brandtner who is the Secretary General’sSpecial
Advisor in Albania will attend later. Mrs Kostantina. Bezhani is not here so I
would now like to give the floor to Mr. Moschos who is the Deputy Ombudsman in
the Department of children’s rights in Greece.
Mr. Moschos – Deputy Ombudsman , Head of Department of children rights Greece.
Your Beatitude, honorable participants. This morning I woke up with two vivid
images in my mind; one was of course the picture of the celebration of the Greek
football team, and the second one was the picture of the children that I have
visited last night with the assistance of Mr. Ilir Beqiri. We paid a visit to
the Roma community that is living somewhere outside Tirana. We saw that
community living next to the garbage; and we saw children living in horrible
housing conditions; with no education and no access to proper services. These
are the children of the same God and have the same rights like all other
children of our society. I would like to express my gratitude to the Council of
Europe for organizing this event together with the Albanian co-organizers. They
brought us here together to work towards a common goal, which is the protection
of human rights of all children who are vulnerable and who are becoming victims.
The independent authority of the Ombudsman is strongly committed to defending
the rights of every child who lives in the Greek territory. For this reason we
place an enormous importance on transnational cooperation.
The Greek Ombudsman and the Department Human Rights of Children have decided to
carefully examine the phenomenon of child trafficking and is involved in a
number of activities on the national and international level- The Greek
government has amended the Law regarding the Greek Ombudsman in 2003, to include
special provisions for the creation of the department on the protection of
children’s right, following the standards of the internationally approved
institution of the Ombudsman for children. Our department is associated with the
European network of the Ombudsman for children and is consistently updating the
information, in coordination with similar organizations around Europe. Coming to
the phenomenon of trafficking, Mr. Moschos said that the opening of the borders
between Greece and Albania over the last 15 years has nor only brought changes
in immigration patterns, but also created a number of problems and has given
rise to a number of illegal activities, exploitation and trafficking of the
human beings being one of them. People and government have realized the
seriousness of this problem regarding the violation of the fundamental rights of
children, who are mostly coming from vulnerable and marginalized social groups.
The Roma community is one of them. The government has taken some measures. These
are: the introduction of new legislation, intensive policing in sensitive areas
and the exchange of information on the courses and characteristics of the
phenomenon. However, these measures are clearly not enough. National preventive
strategies are lacking and are inefficient wherever these exist. The treatment
and care for unprotected children is weak. Welfare institutions and services are
definitively inadequate and bilateral cooperation between Albania and Greece is
on its way. To be honest, it takes courage to accept that one has not done
enough in the area of his/her responsibility. Also it takes courage to open up a
debate on issues that are hard to address due to insufficient resources and weak
prioritization in our public policies. However, we need to be courageous. That
is why we are here today. We need to work together to discuss how we can improve
our efficiency and how we can persuade all those responsible on the need of
building up a social network. This will prevent any violation against vulnerable
children. This is the reason why we have welcomed the initiative of the Council
of Europe to participate in these focused activities. I say activities because I
expect more to happen after this meeting. As I said earlier, all the
institutions will be involved in working together, following today’s meeting. I
would also like to say how our institutions work and deal with this phenomenon.
According to law one of the duties of the Greek Ombudsman ac is to examine cases
of violation of children’s rights on Greek territory and to take any appropriate
measures to protect them. The Ombudsman may present to the Prime Minister
special reports during the year, which are shared with relevant Ministers. This
recommendation can not be imposed but are respected, through the credibility
that the institution enjoys in our society.
For us the only solution towards an efficient combating of the phenomenon of
child trafficking is the development of coordinated multi level strategies and
transnational cooperation for the safe and effective repatriation of the child
victims. As far as the Roma children are concerned, some specific measures need
to be taken regarding their cultural identity. Of course, preventive measures
should be taken in the community where they live, but also when they are brought
to their country of destination. Particular care should be taken, so that they
can speak the language that they understand and communicate in. Their opinion
should be heard and support should be given according to their cultural
background and their special educational and social needs. The provision of the
guardian is crucial in ensuring that all their rights are protected.
Repatriation should take place only after investigation and the reassurance that
the child can be brought to an appropriate safe social environment. All this
depends very much on the cooperation between the two countries. We are looking
forward to a fruitful cooperation between Albania and Greece. Thank you very
Mr. Scicluna. Thank you very much Mr. Moschos, for your interesting intervention
particularly for the proposals presented during the intervention. I would like
to mention one thing that pleased me a lot, when you said that we need courage
to admit that things are wrong. If we do not have that courage and we try to
hide the problem or even worse, to ignore it, than it only will become worse,
until we cannot hide it anymore. I believe that that kind of courage is needed
in today’s meeting. Now I would like to give the floor to His Beatitude,
His Beatitude, Anastasios- Albanian Archbishop
Courage is the key for resolving a problem
Mr. Chairman, honorable participants, the first word that comes to my mind and
to my heart, is the word Congratulations for the collaboration. With the
initiative of the Council of Europe, we can see much clearly, the collaboration
between the two countries that have common visions for the future. I
remember,the first time I came to Albania, this was not so evident. I also see
this meeting as a further step for a contribution. I think that it is important
to identify one or two concrete steps, that we can work on, in the future. It is
obvious that we need to accept that we need a systematic work. We need studies,
we need facts, we need analyses and we also need to see our failures as a part
of this experiment. Every small child is a whole human being. Nevertheless, we
cannot have progress if we do not fail. Education is important not only for the
children and their families but also for society as a whole. I would like to
give an example. As you may know, in the religious communities, we cannot be
responsible for many initiatives, but sometimes we do take some initiatives. I
remember, after the crisis in Kosovo, we sent some money for rebuilding a school
in one of the cities but not in the center of the town. We decided that the
school should be rebuilt in the rural areas where Roma community lives. After
this, we did the same thing with a dental clinic. We wanted those children there
to be happier and their smiles to be more beautiful. I believe the problem here
is graver, because it concerns respect for the dignity of these children. We
know that the solution will not come from the good reports which will be placed
somewhere in archives; but from the people I remember many times the verse that
“Where is the wisdom that we lost in the knowledge, and where is the knowledge
that we lost in the information”.
I hope that you will not lose in the information, the knowledge and you will not
lose in the knowledge, the wisdom. Child trafficking is not only a problem for
us; it is a challenge to become more human and to become a real human society.
Mr. Scicluna. Thank you your Beatitude for your inspiring speech. There are some
points that I would like to comment upon. One of the things that you mentioned
was that we cannot just ignore things, just because they are difficult. I
remember, many years ago, we had a meeting at the Council of Europe and someone
at that meeting proposed a particular subject for study One of the delegates
said that we should not deal with that subject because it was too difficult . I
said that that was the only reason for dealing with the issue. When we have
difficult problems we need to solve them together. You also said; that we need
to have the courage to experiment and the courage to fail. Small practical steps
are more important than theoretical big steps. Nothing can be achieved without
compassion and love. It is at the basis of the respect for the human dignity of
the individuals. So, thank you very much, your Beatitude. Right away I would
like to give the floor to Mrs. Sykiotou who will do a presentation of the facts
and data concerning the trafficking of the Roma children between Albania and
Mrs. Athanassia Sykiotou – Independent Expert on Trafficking
Trafficking in children is undoubtedly an increasing problem
Thank you Mr. Chairman and let me thank the Council of Europe for organizing
this important meeting. I would like to speak generally about the trafficking
and then I would try to focus on the specific subject. According to the
estimations made by UN, UNICEF and the European Parliament more than 4 million
persons worldwide are being trafficked every year. Among them, UNICEF estimates
that about 1,2 million are children. According to the European Parliament’s
report for 2000, each year about 500,000 victims of trafficking enter into
Western Europe. Trafficking in children is undoubtedly an increasing problem.
Children without guidance and protection of parents are often more vulnerable
for becoming victims of violence, exploitation, discrimination and other abuses.
Children are often sold by their parents who believe that their children are
going to be looked after, learn a trade or be educated. Some of the reasons that
contribute to the increase of trafficking as Mr. Scicluna and Mrs. Tsetsekou
said, is poverty. Trafficking of children concerns mainly exploitation for
purpose of prostitution and pornography and also for begging, forced labor,
illegal adoptions, and removal of their organs. The main problem with
trafficking is that access to reliable data on the exact number of trafficked
persons is not possible. All general assessments are hard to verify, according
to the context and source of information. It is also difficult to distinguish
between the data on trafficking, illegal migration, migrant sex workers, illegal
border crossing etc. Often, the statistical data collected by the police and the
border police is neither gender nor age segregated. The victim’s profile,
according to reports on Southeastern Europe shows that 92 % of the victims
originate mainly from four countries: Albania, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria.
Concerning the victims of trafficking in Greece, the majority appears to come
from Albania and they appear to be of Roma origin. According to UNICEF’s reports
on Southeastern Europe, more that 80 % of children who have been placed in
Albania, in the institutions for children of the streets, had been victims of
trafficking in Italy or Greece. According to a special research carried out by
the Greek Ombudsman on the protection and social assistance of children in the
streets, it seems that from 1998 to 2001, out of a total number of 644 children
picked up in the streets and placed in the welfare institutions in Athens, 487
have disappeared. According to the same report, it seems that most of the
children were taken by the traffickers who were paying up to 500 euros to take
them back from the institutions, in order to push them into exploitation
networks of prostitution, labor, or removal of their organs. The Council of
Europe has made continuous efforts during the last 20 years, in the fight
against trafficking of human beings. The Council Of Europe, taking into
consideration the existing shortcomings in national and international
legislation and also the fact that EU text do not cover all European States, has
taken the initiative to draft a new European binding instrument against
trafficking. A new convention is intended in order to contribute to the
harmonization of legislation in trafficking throughout the European continent.
The future European Convention of the Council of Europe attempts to cover all
the above-mentioned shortcomings in the most concrete and precise way. As a
conclusion, I can say that trafficking of children demands special handling and
a strong coordination of all the bodies involved; be they governmental or
nongovernmental, national or international. Combating trafficking effectively
demands a combination and coordination of action from all the institutions
involved in the problem. I also want to repeat what his Beatitude Anastasios
said this morning that first of all we must find people that are willing to
sacrifice themselves for the suffering victims. Thank you very much.
Mr. Kostas Yiannopoulos from the “Smile of the Child” NGO stated that each
country should take care of its children and we can not blame our neighbors for
not doing that. This is where the problem starts. We have different national and
international organizations that are giving statistics about the trafficking of
children but the figures differ. As an NGO, many times we had to do street work.
Representing the Federation for missing children and sexually exploited
children, we have the same problem all over Europe. If we do not have National
Centers we will not know what in reality is the problem.
Mr. Tournecuillert Vincent from Terre des Hommes thanked the representative of
the Greek NGO Smile of the child, for stressing that it was very hard to work
across borders. He remarked about the absence of the representatives of the
Albanian authorities. He sought to know from the organizers as to why they were
not present. He stated that the bilateral agreement setting out the legal
framework for cooperation between Albania and Greece needs to be signed very
rapidly by both countries and needs to be enforced before the Olympic games. He
concluded by saying that as an International organization they do not have
enough links with Roma organizations, and both sides need to do more efforts in
order to establish those links.
Mr. Ilir Beqiri from the Roma NGO remarked about the lack of cooperation between
the Albanian and Greek authorities. Cooperation is a very useful tool in sharing
information, and identifying the trafficked children. He proposed that the main
purpose of this meeting should be to get to know each other and learn from each
Mrs. Eleni Petroula from the Greek League of Human Rights said that she will
follow the advice of His Beatitude to be more practical; which means that we
need to start with identifying the problem not only in the areas of coordination
and cooperation among various institutions, but also in finding the gaps in the
Legal Framework. She asked the Greek authorities about the procedure to be
followed in case they find a street child. She also wanted to know if there were
any screening procedures. She suggested that there should be a screening
procedure till the child is identified. Screening process, in her view was very
important, which should be done with the input from Albanian NGOs. She also
regretted the absence of the Police from the both countries in this meeting.
Arsis (Greek NGO) said that sometimes part of the street work was missing and
most of the NGOs had to do that work. It was good that there is funding from the
Greek government for street work during the Olympic games.
A Representative of an Albanian Roma woman NGO said that the main cause of
trafficking is unemployment and the poverty of the Roma community and the
governments are to be blamed for not creating employment for people.
Mr. Moschos replied that we were not here to tell each other what to do, but we
were here to inform each other what we were doing in our country and also to
form relationships in order to support each other. For example the Greek part
needs to know what is the best way to repatriate children. The issue of poverty
can be discussed later.
Mr. Istref Pellumbi, representative of a Roma NGO, complained that international
and national organizations and NGOs, are not doing enough for the Roma. tThere
were about 200 children from Albania trafficked in Greece and Italy , and some
of these children were trafficked through the relevant embassies by providing
children with visa and passports.
Mrs. Miranda Fenjo explained that not only Roma children are trafficked but also
children from Egyptian and Albania community. She also explained that
trafficking can be categorized into many categories such as: trafficking when
parents sell their own child; trafficking when parents give the child with their
consent to the tutors against a monthly payment, and trafficking for selling
organs. She suggested that the only way to prevent trafficking of Roma children
is to get the help of the Roma community itself, because they know the community
better and they are inside the problem.
Mr. Moschos asked if these countries had the care centers or rehabilitation
institutions that can take care of the Roma children whose parents cannot take
care of. He wanted to hear the response from the governmental side , but the
Albanian government representatives were not present. He suggested that
subsequently we should see if there are institutions that can help in this area.
Mr Yannopoulos (Children’s smile) if there were any reports from Albanian police
on the missing children. If we have information about the missing children we
can explore this information together with the European Federation for missing
Mr. Kostandin Kazanxhi informed about the issue of the registration of Roma
children and the work he had done with the Tirana legal aid society association
for registering Roma children in Tirana. The British government funded this
Mr. Scicluna replied that the problem of registration is a general problem for
Roma in the whole of Southeastern Europe.
Mr. Refik Tare Roma representative, suggested that it is about time that the
Council of Europe should draw the attention of the Albanian government to the
need for a more effective role in preventing trafficking. The fact that the
Albanian government is not present suggests their involvement. He complained
that the Albanian National strategy on minorities was unfortunately not being
implemented, and the cooperation between the Albanian and Greek government
should be enhanced to prevent child trafficking.
Mr. Scicluna supported the suggestion of cooperation between the two countries,
but he also emphasized that Roma NGOs of both countries should cooperate in the
Mr. Pellumb Fortuna from the Roma NGO expressed the view that education is the
key issue for making the parents and the children aware of trafficking. The
community can also play an important role.
Mr. Tournecuillert Vincent, in reply to the question raised by Mr. Moschos;
whether there was any institution that was able to take care of children in
Albania said that though the Albanian government was not present to answer this
question, he knew that the Ministry of Labor and Social affairs had developed a
shelter, which is supported by the international community. The social workers
working in the shelter, however, need training for developing their abilities.
Mrs. Mavridou Georgia from the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Security
briefly presented the work of the Ministry, and said that in the coming two
months they would organize a training in Thessaloniki on shelter housing in
cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
Mr Sirigos, Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that, during the course of
this meeting, they had an opportunity to meet the Albanian Minister who is
responsible for signing the agreement between Greece and Albania. They have
received the draft agreement, made some amendments and hoped that very soon,
both sides would sign it. He further informed the participants that the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs would very soon operate two shelters of anti trafficking in
Athens and Thessaloniki and a 24 hour telephone line in different languages.
Mr. Hercules Moskoff from Greek Ministry of Foreign affairs added that they do
appreciate the work of the NGOs. He said that their Ministry has doubled the
budget for the anti trafficking activities, which at present was about 3 million
Representative of the Greek Embassy in Tirana asked for the rephrasing of the
conclusions of the meeting held in January 2004, as since then, some concrete
steps have already been taken. As a first concrete step, he highlighted the
start of the negotiations between the two countries on the bilateral agreement.
He stated that they were pleased to take part in this meeting but it was
unfortunate that the Albanian authorities were not present to exchange ideas and
Mr. Scicluna asked the Greek representatives if the bilateral agreement foresees
the creation of structures, and if so whether the participation of the NGOs is
taken into consideration with regard to those structures.
Mr Moskoff of Foreign Affairs replied that their policy is to work with NGOs,
which is why they fund many of their programmes. Regarding the participation of
the NGOs in the structure of the bilateral agreement he said that they are
asking for their participation because of their better understanding of
conditions in the field.
The Representative of the Greek Embassy added that it was quite evident that
there will be some structures. As the Greek Ministry of Health has highlighted
considerable amount of work has been done in defining these structures. Mr.
Tournecuillert also highlighted the necessity of having relevant mechanisms in
Albania and Greece. He said that he had some questions but these would only seem
rhetorical, as the Albanian authorities were not present.
Mrs. Ballauri, representative of a Human Rights group, criticized the Albanian
authorities for not participating in the meeting and said that their absence was
not accidental but indicative of their indifference towards Roma problems. She
said that this meeting has the objective of examining what concrete steps can be
taken. She mentioned that the main problem is the lack of cooperation between
Roma NGOs and Greek NGOs . We will not achieve much progress if we do not
establish networks and bridges between each other. She proposed that we
collaborate with border police and use pressure on the police to prevent
Istref Pellumbi Roma representative ,suggested organising a meeting in Greece
with Roma families living there as they knew better where these children are
likely to be and who are the traffic dealers.
Mrs. Milona- Bakropoulou Chrysa, Greek Prosecutor for minors, explained that
there was a problem of competence between the court, the police and prosecutors,
which needs to be quickly resolved.
Mr. Moschos emphasized the necessity of having a bilateral agreement between
Albania and Greece to make sure that the whole process functions in a safer and
legal manner. It was necesarty to organise guardian services in both countries
so that the process works in the best interest of the child.
A Roma representative said that they know best how many Roma children are
trafficked in Greece. They also have information that one Greek doctor in Greece
was involved in the removal of children’s organs. Without the involvement of the
Roma NGOs not much can be done.
Mrs Milona-Bakropoulou Chrysa suggested that if the anti trafficking coalition
also included the governmental representatives of Albania, that would allow
district attorneys for minors to consult the coalition for the repatriation of
children to Albania.
Arben Loka, BKTF replied that only members of the anti trafficking coalition are
taking part in the advisory board, and one of their tasks was to work closely
with the governmental institutions and organizations and civil society, which
were directly involved in the work of the anti trafficking coalition.
A Greek representive mentioned that the organizations carrying out anti
trafficking work should be recognized and verified by specific bodies. This was
necessary as in many cases the traffickers were presenting themselves as parents
of the child or representative of different NGOs and organizations.
A Roma representative agreed with the suggestion that all the NGOs must work
together for more efficiency and effectiveness. He added that in Albania the
existence of the Roma NGOs is not recognized, and he sought to know the process
for becoming member of the NGO Network.
Mr. Arben Loka clarified that the coalition was composed of 12 associations that
were engaged in different activities in the drive against trafficking. As far as
he was aware there was only one application from Roma NGO “Amaro Carvani” but in
order for them to be able to qualify they should have specific activities in one
of the four identified fields of anti trafficking. But the cooperation with the
Roma NGOs will definitively continue.
Mr. Tournecuillert added that international organizations such as ICMC, Save the
children, and Terres des Hommes were also part of the Anti Trafficking
coalition. He encouraged the Greek NGOs and organizations to apply, especially
the Greek NGO Arsis. He said that there was no application form, but whosoever
was interested, can have a look at the status of the coalition and approach the
coalition with all the relevant information.
Mr. Moschos stressed the need to examine the ways and means of involving the
Roma community in anti trafficking activities and to use their experience and
contribution both in Albania and Greece.
Mr. Scicluna called for the inclusion of Roma NGOs in the coalition, or at least
that they should be consulted. As one of the Roma representative said, they know
the community better and they can be very useful in collecting the data.
Mrs. Ballauri added that the objective of the coalition should be to take
concrete action and called for more cooperation and information exchange among
various NGOs. She recommended that the coalition publish a webpage on their
Mr. Scicluna proposed to draw some conclusions. The most important fact is the
on going discussions between Albania and Greece for the bilateral agreement on
the trafficking of children. This would be the main basis for everything that we
are going to propose. This bilateral agreement needs to be a special one,
because very often-bilateral agreements particularly concerning the Roma, were
not to their advantage. . In many cases bilateral agreements between countries
can be done at the expense of the people for whom these are intended. The
protection of the child should be the main focus, and all the mechanisms that
need to be developed should be done in the light of child protection. This
bilateral agreement should cover not only activities that are needed for
cooperation, but also national activities which are needed in order for the
cooperation to function. The bilateral agreement will provide a legal framewor
which will make it easier for both governmental authorities and NGOs to carry
out their activities.. The following were the most salient issues raised at the
• the training of staff working with cases of trafficked children.
• appointment of a tutor in Greece, who is replaced when the child moves to
Albania. This would require cooperation between the two countries,
• repatriation of children to Albania.
training of police dealing with child trafficking.
• care centers should be well equipped.
• tracing the identity of the trafficked child.
street work- done in many cases by the NGOs.
Mr. Scicluna believed that if they were doing a good job they should be
supported rather than have their work taken over by the government .
• establishment of structures that function with goodwill and determination.
• The role of the NGOs within the structures should be well defined.
• good level of cooperation between the authorities of the two countries. The
NGOs should be given a role of co-partnesr for developing their network which
Furthermore, Mr. Scicluna urged that the Roma should not be forgotten. Although
all children should be treated equally, Roma children are the most vulnerable
because they are coming from very poor families and they are the ones who were
at the highest risk of being trafficked.
Mr. Moschos said that Mr. Scicluna picked up all the suggestions that came from
the meeting. He did not agree that they should be presented to both governments
for inclusion in the bilateral agreement. He believed that the issues were very
important for governments. Some of these proposals may involve a long-term
process for implementation and require a change in legislation.. That would
delay the conclusion of the bilateral agreement. He suggested that the findings
of this meeting should be presented as recommendations and it should be left to
the responsible authorities at the governmental level to decide which
recommendations they want include in the agreement.
Mr. Scicluna agreed to send the recommendations to the authoritiesof both
countries, proposing that these should be kept in mind in the preparation of the
The Chairperson ended the meeting by thanking all the participants for their
time and contribution.