The Office of the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the Council of Europe’s Anti-Trafficking Division organised a joint roundtable in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on 7 to 8 September 2023, which focused on strengthening the role of the private sector, particularly financial institutions, in preventing and combating human trafficking.
The event brought together some 50 representatives of financial intelligence units, law enforcement agencies, prosecutor’s officers, anti-trafficking coordination bodies, financial and other private sector institutions, financial regulators, trade unions, and academia from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.
Opening the meeting, the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bojana Urumova, said: “In order to fight human trafficking, the money trail needs to be followed. Financial investigations are extremely important and require the collaboration of the public and private sectors.” “Fighting human trafficking, money laundering, corruption and terrorism financing are among the key priorities of our office, which is implementing projects in these areas based on the recommendations of relevant Council of Europe monitoring bodies,” she added.
Acting OSCE Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Andrea Salvoni called for stronger partnerships to effectively address human trafficking in financial flows. “Strong cooperation between and among financial institutions, law enforcement, and government agencies is crucial to share intelligence and coordinate actions. For this, it’s key to establish legislative frameworks that allow for information sharing,” he said.
During the roundtable, promising practices were presented by speakers from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Latvia, the Netherlands, Europol, Western Union, Bank Santander, and Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST). The OSCE study “Following the Money: Compendium of Resources and Step-by-step Guide to Financial Investigations into Trafficking in Human Beings” was also presented as a valuable resource.
The roundtable aimed at raising awareness of the role of financial institutions in combating human trafficking and promoting cross-sectoral co-operation frameworks. It also introduced a new OSCE study on Bosnia and Herzegovina's legal and institutional framework, offering concrete recommendations to combat human trafficking and labour exploitation in supply chains. Based on working groups’ sessions, participants launched the preparation of a sample human trafficking typology paper, which is an alert and guidance system for financial institutions to identify human trafficking in financial flows.