“Preventive work and proactive approach in detecting cases of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation are necessary to recognise potential victims, inform them on their rights and provide assistance”, was the main message of the three-days online workshop on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation, organised on 16-18 March 2021 in Serbia.
Seventeen labour inspectors from different Serbian cities took part in this event with the aim to learn about the victim identification and referral mechanisms, in line with their professional mandate and investigative powers to detect cases of labour exploitation and trafficking.
The workshop discussed the key driving principles of the antitrafficking action which are victim-centred approach and multidisciplinary co-operation. The workshop underlined that victims of trafficking for labour exploitation face significant barriers to their identification, recovery and long-term support. In most cases they show limited understanding of their entitlement to support and in many cases do not demonstrate genuine will to co-operate with the law enforcement authorities because they fear losing their jobs and payments due. Increasing knowledge of labour inspectors about human trafficking indicators is therefore indispensable to overcome this “normalisation” of exploitation that obstructs identification process and access of victims to assistance.
To increase understanding of the identification and assistance process, the workshop included analysis of practical cases as well as information provided by experienced labour inspectors, including from Serbia and Belgium. Mr Van Hauwermeiren, director of the anti-trafficking inspectorate from Belgium, was one of the guest experts, who gave a comprehensive overview of the legal and policy standards applicable to the trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation, the role of the labour inspectors as well as the difference between the labour law violations and the crime of trafficking in human beings.
In the past three years, with the support of the European Union and the Council of Europe, more than 15 different training activities were organised. They covered almost 100% of labour inspectors in Serbia (220 in total), who are expected to contribute to an effective antitrafficking work.
The action “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings in Serbia” is implemented under the joint European Union/Council of Europe programme „Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019 – 2022”.