Action against Trafficking in Human Beings


EG/ATH (2000) 3


1 July 2000


Co-ordinated action against trafficking in human beings in south eastern europe: towards a regional action plan
Athens, 29 June - 1 July 2000






At national level
II. At sub-regional and regional level

The International Seminar on “Co-ordinated action against trafficking in human beings in South Eastern Europe: towards a regional action plan” took place in Athens from 29 June to 1 July 2000, at the invitation of the Greek General Secretariat for Equality of the Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation. The Council of Europe (DG II - Human Rights and DG I - Legal Affairs), and in particular its Steering Committee for Equality between women and men (CDEG), took the initiative to organise this seminar, which was co-financed and co-sponsored by the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations and by Japan. The seminar was organised in partnership with the OSCE/ODIHR and the International Organization for Migration. The Seminar was organised within the framework of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.

Participants included criminal justice experts (law enforcement/police/migration), experts in human rights issues (protection of victims' rights), and representatives of non-governmental organisations from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Japan, the Committee of the Regions of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, the “Comité contre l’esclavage moderne”, the International Labour Office (ILO), Interpol, the International Catholic Migration Commission, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Kvinna till Kvinna, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNESCO, UNICEF, IOM, OHCHR and OSCE/ODIHR were also represented.

After in-depth discussions, the participants agreed upon the following Plan of Action to combat trafficking in human beings in South-Eastern Europe building on the proposals for national plans developed by each delegation.

I. At national level 

    1. Ensure the political commitment of the highest political authorities in each country, among other things, by using the mechanisms and fora of the Stability Pact;

    2. Prepare and implement national Plans of action in each country, on trafficking in human beings, particularly for the purpose of sexual exploitation based on the fundamental Human Rights principles and in line with the relevant provisions of the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (1979), the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international conventions such as the United Nations Convention for the suppression of the traffic in persons and the exploitation of the prostitution of others (1949), the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950) and its protocols; and Recommendation No R (2000) 11 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States on action against trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation, in close collaboration with all government agencies concerned, with NGOs and other relevant entities of civil society;

    3. Ensure the implementation of National Plans of Action by establishing and strengthening multisectoral national mechanisms entrusted with co-ordination, such as national groups/bodies composed of concerned Government agencies, NGOs and other relevant entities;

    4. Encourage States to adopt and effectively implement national legislation against trafficking establishing trafficking as a serious criminal offence;

    5. Encourage governments and NGOs to co-operate and complement their counter-trafficking activities.

II. At sub-regional and regional level 

    6. Promote and develop an active general co-operation process among the countries of South Eastern Europe, in accordance with Recommendation No R (2000) 11 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States on action against trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation;

    7. Promote the co-operation and co-ordination among inter-governmental organisations acting in the region;

    8. Encourage the international community to develop and promote bi- and multi-lateral technical co-operation and experience exchange activities with the governments concerned in order to increase their capacity to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings and protect the victims among the countries of the region;

    9. Promote the Task Force on Trafficking launched under the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and facilitate its role as an instrument for collaboration, co-ordination and co-operation between governmental bodies and institutions, NGOs, international organisations and agencies in order to maximise the use of existing resources and avoid duplication of activities, including monitoring of compliance;

    10. Evaluate, assess and monitor the activities undertaken in the region to combat trafficking with a view to ensuring better co-ordination;

    11. Support co-ordinated action against organised crime in South-eastern Europe by participating in the Stability Pact Initiative against Organised Crime (SPOC);

    12. Encourage the creation of sub-regional and national multidisciplinary specialised units to co-ordinate activities and actively combat trafficking;

    13. Organise, on an annual or bi-annual basis, a regional forum for exchange, co-ordination and co-operation on anti-trafficking activities; this forum will be organised on a rotation basis in a country of the region, with the assistance of the international organisations involved;

    14. Follow and encourage the adoption of the draft Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Research and data

    15. Encourage the undertaking of relevant research on trafficking on human beings in the region, enabling the governments and the agencies concerned to respond appropriately;

    16. Establish a regional co-ordinated mechanism for the collection and exchange of data and information, building on already existing networks and taking advantage of new information technologies.

Information campaigns

    17. Establish a regional committee, composed of NGO and government representatives as well as of representatives of intergovernmental organisations, to devise, launch and monitor a regional awareness-raising campaign aimed at the general public, on trafficking in human beings;

    18. Develop specific targeted prevention campaigns, co-ordinated throughout the region, aimed at clients, potential and actual victims, including other vulnerable groups, eg refugee women, rural women and at the relevant professions dealing with all aspects of trafficking.

Awareness-raising and training

    19. Organise, nationally and/or regionally, with the assistance of women’s organisations within political parties and interested members of parliament, a parliamentary discussion on the issue of trafficking in human beings, facilitated, if need be, by the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe;

    20. Encourage training of governmental and NGO officials (eg police and immigration officers, judges, military personnel) on the issue of trafficking in human beings (in countries of origin, transit and destination), taking advantage of all available data combined with the development of effective protocols and procedures to be followed and implemented by the trainees;

    21. Encourage states and governments to ensure that all employees and public appointees undertake their functions in accordance with the commitments made by the states to apply internationally agreed human rights standards condemning trafficking in human beings and develop codes of conduct in order to raise awareness and prevent abuses;

    22. Encourage the sharing of current best practice training models and curricular material between the countries of the region;

    23. Develop guidelines for teachers throughout the region on how to mainstream gender equality in education, including information on the realities and dangers of trafficking in human beings;

Long-term prevention

    24. Ensure co-ordinated efforts to foster the economic development of the region and in particular to promote gender mainstreaming and the status of women in order better to combat the root causes of trafficking. In this context, a gender analysis of the activities/programmes in the framework of Table II of the Stability Pact should be carried out.

    25. Ensure that skills training and job opportunities are developed for women in rural areas as an identified vulnerable group.

Victim support

    26. Promote co-ordinated measures in order to ensure reception facilities for victims (shelters) in strategic locations and in particular in countries/regions which do not have these, through building and supporting NGO capacity;

    27. Co-operate internationally to improve the security of victims (and their families) co-operating as witnesses in criminal investigations;

    28. Advertise nationally and in the region the means available for victim support (hotlines, reception facilities) through state institutions, consular sections, NGOs, police and international organisations;

    29. Make use of screening systems to identify victims through co-operation between international organisations and governments and build local NGO capacity to address the needs of victims;

    30. Encourage support for the creation of a network at the national, sub-regional and regional levels, of NGOs active in combating trafficking and supporting the victims;

    31. Ensure long term ongoing funding for all victim support measures.

Right of return and rehabilitation

    32. Encourage States to make cross-border arrangements to ensure that the victim has the right to safe repatriation to their country of origin, and that the victims receive all necessary support before, during and after their repatriation;

    33. Ensure that all States in the region organise deportation procedures with respect for basic human rights standards and ensure minimum safety conditions;

    34. Encourage bilateral agreements between governments in the region in order to ensure the safest mode of transportation when repatriating victims.

    35. Foster co-operation between NGOs of the country of destination and origin and government agencies to assist returnees;

Special measures for children

    36. Ensure co-operation between countries of origin and destination in order to organise co-ordinated social programmes for children at risk and their families.

Legal action

    37. Encourage bilateral and multilateral partnerships between the States of the region in order to combat trafficking, and support the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements;

    38. Promote the actual application of international instruments facilitating international co-operation in criminal matters, among other things, through training programmes;

    39. Develop exchange of information between relevant law enforcement agencies on criminal networks operating in the region; promote on a regular basis, among the States of the region, exchange of information between agencies, institutions and individuals who are involved in trafficking in the region, and also identify methods and routes used by the traffickers;

    40. Encourage networking and co-ordination at the national, sub-regional and regional levels of law enforcement agencies and magistrates with the creation of contact points in each country; as starting points: establish a directory of contacts, prepare a manual of good practices, ensure liaison with Interpol and Europol;

    41. Promote mutual legal assistance, including sharing evidence, exchange of information, joint investigations undertaken by the prosecutors of two or more States operating together;

    42. Encourage the conclusion of regional and sub-regional treaties setting the framework for detailed procedures and mechanisms to be established in order to combat trafficking in the areas encountering similar problems;

    43. Enhance resources of government bodies and particularly law enforcement agencies in countries of origin and transit to investigate and prosecute cases including the provision of technical assistance and equipment.