Goal and Objective of the seminar:
The aim of the seminar was to strengthen co-operation between criminal justice authorities and relevant public and private actors in order to address irregular migration-related crimes in South-Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on prevention, prosecution, international and cross-border co-operation and assistance to victims.
The objective of this seminar was to identify gaps, challenges and good practices, as well as to strengthen information sharing networks between countries of origin, transit and destination using a multidisciplinary approach, paying also attention to the issue of vulnerability of migrants.
The target audience of this meeting was senior experts and practitioners from relevant bodies of the criminal justice systems (judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, police liaison officers), central authorities and non-governmental organizations dealing with migration and cases of trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants from participating States and Partners for Co-operation, as well as from OSCE field operations and relevant international organizations.
There were present:
19 states represented by central authorities and criminal justice system bodies.
11 International organizations and NGOs including MWL.
Methodology and topics discussed during the seminar:
Structure of the seminar
The seminar had three sessions:
- STRENGTHENING THE DETECTION OF ORGANIZED CRIME GROUPS OPERATING ON SMUGGLING OF MIGRANTS AND TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS ALONG MIGRATION ROUTES
- STRENGHTENING CO-OPERATION BETWEEN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS IN COMBATING IRREGULAR MIGRATION-RELATED CRIMES
- UNDERSTANDING MIGRANT VULNERABILITIES AND CAPACITIES: A FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS AND PROGRAMMING
After each plenary session we were divided into working groups. Case studies were presented for discussion and the focus was on the challenges and good practices.
Challenges on fighting migration related crimes:
During the seminar many challenges were identified regarding migration related crimes:
- Stability issues for countries of origin
- Economic developments
- High profit making
- Market demand from the destination countries attracts the criminals
- Different profiles involved in this crime (example: from drivers to Organized Criminal Groups)
- Increase of fake documents
- Hawala is the main payment method
- Abuse of asylum procedures
- Potential and new routes for migrants
- Language and cultural barriers.
- Gaps in the services offered to migrants
- Nationals vs. migrants to be included in services
Best practice and new developments:
During this seminar, lots of best practices have been shared. I would like to list some of them as follows:
- International cooperation improved by cross borders organizations like SELEC (Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre), SEPCA (Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association)
- More JITs (Joint Investigation Team) have been built and Prosecutors from different states would work together to accomplish successful investigations.
- The joining of the South East Europe countries in PCC EE (Police Cooperation Convention for South East Europe), lots of actions were jointly realized, despite the borders through this instrument.
- Information sharing between countries who have ratified the UN Convention Against Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto.
The recommendations can be summarised under 3 main issues:
- Strengthening and consolidate collaboration by:
- unifying the procedures among Law enforcement bodies to make the collaboration easier.
- intensification of exchange of information and joint efforts with the countries of origin (however sometimes it is impossible due to lack of resources).
- working closely with NGOs, private sector and service providers.
- Focus on financial investigation through:
- joint financial investigation in countries of origin and destination countries of suspected or accused migration related crimes authors.
- following the money and the assets of punished criminals
- Build a migrant center approach through:
- legalization of regular migration, making the migration laws more suitable for people who want to migrate. This would destroy the business model of smuggling people, because by making easier the legal migration the demand for illegal and uncontrolled movement will decrease.
- Being vigilant to early identification of vulnerable migrants more than just keeping numbers for statistics. Having the focus to identify and assist the migrant by making known that we are dealing with a human person who has natural and international rights.
- Filling the gaps for services provided for migrants.
This Seminar has also been a very important meeting for networking. Each participant has received a printed database with all the contacts of all the other participants. During this seminar I got to know more closely the representatives of 2 NGOs from Serbia, a representative of the Holy See, the Albanian delegation and other judges and prosecutors from all over the EU. I shared the work of MWL on Anti-trafficking and business cards of our president and mine as well.