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Capacity building of labour inspectors in Serbia to recognise signs of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation

Šabac 28 November 2019
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Capacity building of labour inspectors in Serbia to recognise signs of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation

“Labour inspectors are very important actors in preventing and combating trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation”, said Aleksandra Ljubojevic, Director of the Centre for Human Trafficking Victims’ Protection, at the opening of the multidisciplinary Workshop held on 26-27 November 2019 in Sabac, Serbia.

In fact, statistics on trafficking in human beings (THB) show that THB for the purpose of labour exploitation is the prevalent form of human trafficking in Serbia (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings - GRETA report on Serbia 2018[1]). Despite several victims’ identification mechanisms in place, the capacity of labour inspectors and their ability to detect cases of trafficking remains limited. There is still considerable confusion over the distinction between labour exploitation and sub-standard working conditions, as well as related concepts such as trafficking in human beings, debt bondage, or slavery-like practices.

To improve the knowledge and skills of labour inspectors to recognize signs of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation, the workshop in Sabac was organised, building on a comprehensive and collaborative approach between labour inspectors, representatives of the Centre for Human Trafficking Victims’ Protection, the police, the National Anti-Trafficking Coordination Office, CSOs and trade unions. This approach, often referred to as “cross-system” or “multidisciplinary,” requires co-operative work by relevant agencies and experts to identify victims and to refer them to assistance and protection. The workshop included discussions on the European framework for Action against trafficking in human beings, key legal concepts, forms of human trafficking for labour exploitation and criminal process as well as operational indicators and guidance for labour inspectors.

Good practice examples from Belgium, presented by Mr Van Hauwermeiren from the Belgian Social Inspectorate, highlighted the importance of using indicators to identify THB for labour exploitation during regular inspections. These indicators provide key red flags that could alert labour inspectors about a potential trafficking situation that should be reported, including unacceptable working conditions, or high-level dependence from an employer.

The Action “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings in Serbia” is a part of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II”, a co-operation initiative co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe, which aims at assisting beneficiaries in South-East Europe to comply with the Council of Europe standards and European Union acquis in the framework of the enlargement process, where relevant.

[1] Report concerning the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Serbia


What is the Horizontal Facility II?

The European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey (Horizontal Facility II) 2019-2022 is a co-operation initiative of the European Union and Council of Europe for the Western Balkans and Turkey. It is one of the results of the Statement of Intent signed on 1 April 2014 by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, in which both Organisations agreed to further strengthen their co-operation in key areas of joint interest.

The first phase of the programme included various Beneficiary-specific and regional initiatives and ran from 2016 to 2019. The second phase of the programme (worth €41 million between 2019 and 2022) keeps building on the results of the phase I and broadens the thematic areas to new topics crucial for the Western Balkans region and Turkey – freedom of expression and media.

The second phase of the programme covers Actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia as well as Turkey and the regional dimension of the programme is strengthened. The Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism that provides legislative expertise and policy advice within the Council of Europe system remains an important part of the programme available to all Beneficiaries.

 

How long will the Horizontal Facility II last?

The Horizontal Facility is a three-year programme, which is being implemented by the Council of Europe from May 2019 over a period of 36 months. 

 

How much will the Horizontal Facility II cost?

The envelope of this facility amounts to ca. 41 Million EUR (85% funded by the EU, 15% by the CoE).

 

What will the Horizontal Facility II do?

The Horizontal Facility enables the Beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with the European standards, including where relevant within the framework of the EU enlargement process. The Horizontal Facility relies on the Council of Europe’s unique working methods, whereby tailor-made technical co-operation activities are based on conclusions and recommendations of the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies highlight areas where improvements are needed in legislation and policies of the Beneficiaries to comply with the Organisation’s treaties and other standards.

Themes covered by the Horizontal Facility include:

  • Ensuring justice;
  • Fighting economic crime;
  • Combating discrimination and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups (including LGBTI, minorities and Roma) and
  • Freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

All the themes are key priorities of the two Organisations in the Western Balkans region and Turkey.

All Horizontal Facility actions address cross-cutting issues such as gender mainstreaming, protection of minorities and vulnerable groups and foresees the engagement of civil society organisations in the implementation of the Horizontal Facility.

This website has been produced using funds of a Joint Project between the European Union and the Council of Europe. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union or the Council of Europe.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.