A holistic multi-disciplinary approach that takes into primary consideration the best interest of the child must be applied for effective resocialisation and reintegration of the child victims of trafficking. Such an approach not only requires increased capacities, financial resources and teamwork, but also dedication to social inclusion of these critically vulnerable children. This has been underlined during the seminar оn child-driven reintegration and resocialization of victims of child trafficking, organised in the framework of the joint European Union and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022” and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The seminar gathered more than 30 participants from among members of the sub-group on child trafficking of the National Anti-trafficking Commission (the Sub-group), social workers, NGO representatives and other stakeholders.
The participants exchanged views about the barriers to effective protection and assistance to child victims of trafficking by tackling the provision of psychological help, legal aid, lack of interpretation, available accommodation, access to education, long-term monitoring of the resocialisation process and insufficient available resources. The importance of mainstreaming the gender perspective in the resocialisation and reintegration plans and programmes was also discussed.
The Chair of the Sub-group Svetlana Cvetkovska pointed out that the importance of implementation of the first sub-group’s annual Operational plan, whose preparation was supported by the EU and Council of Europe joint Horizontal Facility II programme, action on “Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in North Macedonia”, in order to facilitate the resocialization and reintegration process.
Julia Planitzer, the Second Vice-President of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), reiterated that according to the Preamble of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings the child-rights approach must be applied in the anti-trafficking actions. “To reduce children’s vulnerability to trafficking, there must be a protective environment.”-she said. Julia Planitzer asserted that gaps in a long-term reintegration process had to be identified and overcome. She stressed that the repatriated victims also need access to vocational training, labour market, safe accommodation and continuous support during their rehabilitation and resocialisation process.
Kamelia Dimitrova, international expert from the Dignita Foundation, provided best practices and good examples from United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and Bulgaria with respect to the appointment procedure of legal guardians to child victims of trafficking, avoiding conflict of interest and ensuring a course of action based on the best interest of the child.
The participants shared good practices and examples they came across in their own work, which included the mobile anti-trafficking teams which improved the identification of and provision of assistance to child trafficking victims, psychological treatment to heal the trauma caused by trafficking, provision of free legal aid, which enabled a child trafficking victim to receive compensation and a long-term monitoring of the process of rehabilitation and resocialisation of the child trafficking victims by social workers.
Some of the key conclusions of the meeting were:
- The child victims of trafficking must be provided with services and the support necessary for their well-being in good time in order to facilitate their process of resocialization and reintegration. The best interest of the child must be the primary consideration.
- The risk assessment must be done thoroughly based on the individual needs of the child.
- The role of the custodian must not be undermined by the lack of capacities and resources.
- The local self-government must be included in the resocialization and reintegration process, as it has many resources that can be mobilized to facilitate social inclusion.
- The sustainability of the actors and capacities necessary for effective resocialization and reintegration process must be ensured.