Ring Anti-trafficking Network
Trafficking in persons, particularly of women and children, has been loudly denounced by the international community as an egregious and profound human rights abuse, a form of modern-day slavery, and a particular form of violence against women. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
has reported that BiH has become a significant destination country for trafficked women and girls from Ukraine, Moldavia and other countries of Eastern European and the former Soviet Union. The lack of understanding among BiH government authorities of the complexity and scope of the problem and the absence of a domestic legal framework for prosecuting and preventing the crime of trafficking are significant obstacles to mounting an effective civil society response. IHRLG's BiH team, in collaboration with the Director of the IHRLG Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons
, developed our strategic plan for helping n civil society fill the gaps in governmental responses to trafficking and advocate legislative and policy solutions to combat it.
In 1999, IHRLG delivered a groundbreaking training series in Zenica and Bijeljina for BiH NGOs focusing on the human rights standards for the treatment of trafficked persons; comparative legal and advocacy approaches to combating trafficking; and applying the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The series resulted in the initial coordination of the RING Anti-Trafficking Network, by IHRLG and two BiH organizations &emdash; Lara, based in Bijeljina (Republika Srpska), and Medica Zenica, based in Zenica (Federation of BiH).
To establish a secretariat for the RING Network and continue to build the capacity of member groups in strategic collaboration, IHRLG has recently developed a legislative advocacy training program in partnership with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Mission to BiH (OSCE BiH). IHRLG will also continue to partner with RING members in building public awareness of the complexity and human rights dimensions of trafficking. IHRLG collaboration with OSCE BiH will also include training for BiH judges and lawyers in methods of incorporating international human rights standards into their sentencing and defense strategies, thereby improving the legal services available to victims of trafficking and increasing the number of prosecutions of traffickers. RING members will contribute to these efforts.
Examples of IHRLG anti-trafficking activities include
- Submitting policy recommendations to the Ministers of Justice in both entities. In April 2001, IHRLG submitted a document outlining the current trafficking situation in BiH, relevant human rights standards, the country's obligations under the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and recommendations on how to protect the rights of trafficked persons.
- Contributing to the development of the legislative reform elements of the BiH National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking. IHRLG is a member of the Council of Ministers' Trafficking Working Group (Legislative Subgroup and the Subgroup on Harmonization of Entity Laws and the Brcko District). The Working Group was established following the September 2000 mission of the Stability Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings to BiH.
- Addressing the urgent need for the protection of the rights of trafficked persons. IHRLG has held meetings with the International Police Task Force (IPTF) concerning police raids in nightclubs that have resulted in the imprisonment of trafficked women, who are generally prosecuted for the possession of false documentation and can face up to 3 years of imprisonment. We have also trained the IPTF's STOP Team (deployed to different regions to monitor police responses to trafficking) on the human rights standards for the treatment of trafficked persons.
- Ensuring that combating trafficking in BiH remains on the international human rights agenda. Our BiH team nominates human rights and legal professionals for participation in IHRLG's annual delegations to the UN Commission on Human Rights (as part of the international advocacy training program, Advocacy Bridge).
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