The European Union and the Council of Europe joint action on “Strengthening the human rights protection of migrants and victims of human trafficking in Turkey”, implemented within the framework of “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022” came to a successful end after a 36-month implementation period. The closing event of the action took place in Ankara on 8 December 2022.
The event brought together 150 participants including representatives from beneficiary institutions, namely the Presidency of Migration Management, General Command of Gendarmerie, Coast Guard Command and General Directorate of Security under the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Family and Social Services, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ombudsperson’s office, the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, Municipalities as well as representatives from the Delegation of European Union to Türkiye, the Council of Europe, embassies in Ankara, international organisations, and NGOs.
Can Ozan Tuncer, Deputy President of the Presidency of Migration Management of Türkiye, expressed that Türkiye is both a destination and a transit country for migration flows due to its geographical location and currently hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. Tuncer highlighted the importance of national and international co-operation in the field, adding that the support of the European Union and the Council of Europe facilitates capacity building efforts of the Presidency of Migration Management, the institution dealing with the humanitarian, economic and social aspects of irregular migration.
André Lys, Head of Co-operation, Delegation of the European Union to Türkiye, pointed out that strong institutions, strong law enforcement forces, effective judiciary, and protection and assistance services for the victims are essential to fight the phenomena of migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings for different purposes. Lys highlighted that these elements are also key priorities for the European Union and Türkiye to create and consolidate a region of freedom, security and justice, adding that awareness-raising and capacity building activities under the action served this purpose.
Petya Nestorova, Head of Division and Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, highlighted that the action provided a unique opportunity to improve co-ordination among national anti-trafficking institutions and fostered collaborative and co-ordinated action to prevent and combat human trafficking in Türkiye as well as strengthening the knowledge and skills of the actors for the identification and protection of and assistance to the victims of trafficking for all forms of exploitation, in the light of GRETA recommendations.
Lilja Gretarsdottir, Head of Co-operation Programmes Division, Council of Europe, extended her gratitude to national partners for excellent co-operation in the field of migration and trafficking in human beings and their dedication and commitment throughout the implementation of the action. She expressed that Türkiye has a profound experience and insights in the context of irregular migration management and that such actions are of great importance to pave the way for knowledge and experience sharing with other Council of Europe member states. Gretarsdottir also highlighted the importance of highly-qualified and trained workforce to ensure the effectiveness of irregular migration management and combating trafficking in human beings, adding that the capacity building and awareness-raising activities under the action facilitated the fulfilment of this objective.
The multi-sector approach of the action facilitated co-ordination and dialogue among stakeholders. Meetings, trainings, workshops, and study visits brought together stakeholders from public and private institutions as well as non-governmental organisations working in the field of migration and combating trafficking in human beings, thus reinforcing the co-operation among them. Activities under the action also contributed to strengthening the human rights-centred approach in relevant partner institutions.
The event was organised within the framework of the action “Strengthening the human rights protection of migrants and victims of human trafficking in Turkey”, which is a part of the European Union/Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”.