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Endorsed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Transnational Cooperation and Case Management for victims of trafficking and children on the move

2016-11-03

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Transnational Cooperation and Case Management for the protection of victims and potential victims of trafficking with a special focus on children between Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, were endorsed at a trilateral meeting between the National Anti-trafficking Coordinators of the three countries held in Budva, Montenegro 31 October - 2 November, 2016.

The meeting was organized with the support of Terre des hommes Albania, Terre des hommes Kosovo and Save the Children Albania Country Office, who are collaborating as partners within the regional project “Mario II: Joint Action to Protect Children on the Move in Europe”, funded by the Oak Foundation and being implemented in 16 countries with 19 partners. The meeting was also organized in close collaboration with OSCE Mission to Montenegro.

The drafting of the unified SOPs for Transnational Cooperation and Case Management comes as a result of grounded research conducted by Mario project partners in Albania and Kosovo based on which a series of recommendations were drawn, including the measures to be taken by the National Authorities of countries in the region for effective implementation of existing bilateral protocols in place, for the identification, protection and voluntary assisted return of victims, potential victims of trafficking and in particular of children at risk.

The movement of children and families across the borders in the region, including Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece, that has led to children being exploited and in high risk for forced labor, begging and trafficking is a persisting issue, despite measures taken by countries, such as Albania and Kosovo to prevent child begging and exploitation in the country and across the borders. The migration trends within the countries in the region are influenced by poverty and extreme living conditions of children, young people and families.

The endorsed SOPs compound the harmonized procedures for the implementation of the Bilateral Protocols signed between Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro “On intensification of cooperation in the fight against trafficking of human beings and on improvement of identification, notification, referral and assisted voluntary return of victims, potential victims of trafficking and children in particular”, complementing the Agreements between the countries “on cross-border police cooperation”.

In opening remarks of the meeting, Mr. Milan Radojevic, the National Anti-trafficking Coordinator of Kosovo and Deputy Minister of MIA, pointed out that all efforts should be made to have an efficient cooperation that is also focused in the best interest of the victims. The representative of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, Mr. Vladimir Rogozin said that the implementation of Protocols on regional cooperation in the fight against trafficking in human beings will have an impact in jointly facing challenges and finding solutions through cooperation of relevant state institutions, civil society representatives and representatives of international NGOs.

Mario partners presented the Position Paper on Children on the Move in Europe, emphasizing that there is a clear link between child migration and situations of high risks.  Hence the SOPs should benefit not only the identified victims of trafficking, but also the other categories of children on the move[1]. In particular, the presentation reinforced the main recommendations of the position paper, on the need for countries of origin, transit and destination to establish comprehensive child protection systems to protect children on the move within and across countries and the need to establish Transnational Case Management systems for increased coordination and cooperation for the protection of children on the move.

“The current SOPs that we have drafted, compound the basis for establishing real mechanisms for Transnational Case Management and cooperation for children in cross-border and transnational situations”, said Blerta Spahiu, representative of Mario partners in the opening remarks.

The SOPs were developed by the working groups established in each country, composed of representatives from ONAC offices, Prosecution, Border Management Police Officers, Ministries of Social Affairs and experts from international NGOs and NGOs. The final draft of the discussed and endorsed SOPs in Montenegro is the result of a series of meetings between the working groups and governmental officials that Mario project partners have been supporting since 2013.

In the closing event, Ms. Elona Gjebrea, the National Anti- trafficking Coordinator of Albania and Deputy Minister of MIA, said that the SOPs drafted between Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro to intensify coordination and cooperation between national authorities in the identification, assistance, reporting and voluntary assisted return victims, potential victims of trafficking and in particular for children in high risk situation, are the first of its kind in the region and form the basis for transnational cooperation in case management. “We need to ensure that other countries, such as Macedonia and Greece will join and endorse these SOPs for intensified cooperation at the regional level” – said Ms. Gjebrea.

The SOPs and the accompanying guidelines will be launched officially in a public event in Tirana, in December 2016, with the representation of high level officials from Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.

The drafting and endorsement of SOPs between the three countries was supported by the project “Mario II: Joint Action to Protect Children on the Move in Europe” (http://www.marioproject.org/), implemented in Albania by Terre des hommes Albania and the Save the Children Albania Country Office and in Kosovo by Terre des hommes Kosovo.

 

[1] Such as the unaccompanied minors, separated children, missing children, trafficked children, etc.