Human trafficking in Kosovo
Human trafficking in Kosovo has been a focal point of the fight against human trafficking. The main victims within the nation are young girls who traffickers force to work in the sex trade. While this problem still persists, the government is making active efforts to lessen the prevalence of the issue.

The Causes of Kosovo’s Trafficking Epidemic

Ethnic tensions between Serbians and Albanians residing in Kosovo have worked to increase human trafficking in the nation. Speculations determined that peace-keeping forces placed in Kosovo to prevent the two groups from clashing led to a large demand for sex workers. Trafficking rose to meet the demand. Before Kosovo’s official declaration of independence in 2008, young girls, who were trafficking victims, came from neighboring countries. However, independence meant more secure borders. As a result, the traffickers looked inward, targeting young Kosovan girls.

Human trafficking in Kosovo is undoubtedly a profitable business. It is estimated that a female forced into sexual exploitation in Western Europe can create around $67,200 in profit for her captors. Such a profitable industry is not one that many criminals or corrupt officials can ignore. GlobalPost found that Kosovan government officials were profiting from or taking part in the sexual aspect of trafficking in the past, but they never faced any charges.

Fight Against Human Trafficking

According to the U.S. Department of State, Kosovo qualifies as a Tier 2 country, meaning that while it does not meet every standard set for eliminating human trafficking, it is making a solid effort. These efforts include implementing new standard operating procedures, meant to increase prosecution efficiency. The government of Kosovo also dedicated more funds and resources to helping victims of human trafficking. A big part of this was the opening of state-run shelters for these victims.

These new measures are a massive improvement from a government that GlobalPost said is profiting off of the human trafficking industry in the nation. However, the problem is far from disappearing. Despite the high rates of human trafficking in Kosovo, very few traffickers face convictions. Kosovo’s Criminal Code sentences convicted traffickers to five to 12 years in prison. Of those convicted, most only serve between seven and 18 months, according to ONETrack International.

Next Steps

A report that the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking group, GRETA, published, outlined improvements that Kosovo could make to lessen the prevalence of human trafficking in the nation. GRETA stresses the importance of ensuring the prioritization of trafficking cases in Kosovo’s judicial system. As well as this, GRETA emphasizes identifying victims of human trafficking, specifically child trafficking. A large portion of the trafficking victims in Kosovo are actually from Albania. Partly because of ethnic tensions, the country often deports these children back to their home country before making proper identification, greatly lessening the chance of catching the perpetrator of the crime.

The U.S. Department of State has also outlined recommendations to reduce human trafficking in Kosovo. It again emphasized prosecution and sentencing, with higher conviction rates and longer sentences as key points of discussion. Another measure Kosovo should take into account is the training of judiciary officials in each region so they can properly manage cases of human trafficking. It is unclear if Kosovo plans to implement any of these recommendations, but given the recent successes of the victim shelters and regionally assigned officials, some optimism remains.

– Thomas Schneider
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Denmark
Women will often go to extreme lengths to find stability for themselves and their families. To find this stability, many leave their homes in search of better jobs. Unfortunately, this makes them vulnerable to human trafficking with traffickers potentially tricking them into doing sex work that can be difficult to escape. Organizations such as the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) are fighting to reduce the amount of human trafficking in Denmark.

Women as Victims

Denmark is a trafficking destination. According to Newsroom, “The total number of trafficking victims identified in the period 2016-2019 was 380, including 28 children. The most frequent form of exploitation remains sexual exploitation, followed by labor exploitation and forced criminality.”

Many trafficking victims are women. According to the European Commission, “women make up the largest share of identified victims of trafficking in Denmark with a total of 547 persons (94%). Male victims of trafficking account for 6% of the total number from 2007 to 2016.”

The Problem

Migrant women come from various parts of the world such as Thailand, Eastern Europe and Nigeria before settling in Denmark after traffickers promise them employment with quality pay. However, many of these women end up in sex work by force. Additionally, many end up on the streets where they face violence and stress due to the cost of living in Denmark.

Kira West of Open Democracy said that “We have heard examples of family houses being burnt down or family members being kidnapped. Many of them are also suffering from the effects of life as undocumented migrant women in rough, street-based environments where they are subject to exploitation, violence and rape.”

Female trafficking victims not only stress about paying off their debts but also live in fear that the police will catch them. As a result, female trafficking victims in Denmark rarely report crimes. West said that “Irrespective of whether or not they have the right papers, these women have a right to protection. They should be able to report perpetrators without fearing deportation.”

Making a Change

GRETA is an organization that ensures trafficked victims have access to compensation including breaking down their cases and reviewing the eligibility criteria for claiming their compensation. This organization argues that because most victims of trafficking are migrants that they should receive asylum in Denmark. “From 2007-2016 a sum of 632 people are known to be victims of human trafficking in Denmark. Of those 632 people trafficked in Denmark a total of 517 people were being trafficked for prostitution.”

From 2016-2019, GRETA aided in nine court rulings in four different cases resulting in the conviction of 23 persons for human trafficking offenses.

GRETA has urged Denmark to review and grant residence permits to victims of trafficking as well as fund human and financial resources to protect them. In its third report, GRETA detailed exactly how trafficked victims’ cases should play out to guarantee justice in Denmark. GRETA has noted that Denmark has been implementing the establishment of a national referral system including five regional groups. It also created a website and hotline for trafficked victims which includes information in seven languages.

Making it Right

Victims are now stepping forward. The women who end up as trafficking victims do so because they want to build better lives for themselves. They live a life of violence and fear because of their citizenship status and other fake documentation. Many have had enough and are choosing to fight for their freedom. Little by little, many are reclaiming their lives once again.

Maria Garcia
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in ItalyHuman trafficking is not an issue that occurs in just a single country or region of the world. Rather, it is a global dilemma requiring a global solution. However, human trafficking rates vary per country. Human trafficking in Italy represents an issue affecting other European nations as well.

Human Trafficking in Numbers

As of 2018, Italy ranked in the top five EU Member States with the highest number of registered trafficking victims. Italy also tied fourth for the highest percentage of sexually trafficked people at 82%. The other EU countries with similar statistics include Greece, Czechia and Hungary. In comparison, EU states like Sweden and Croatia have rates of 24% and 28% respectively.

Basics of Human Trafficking in Italy

Unaccompanied, young migrants seeking asylum are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking in Italy. Italy’s government reported at least 1,660 victims of trafficking, with many other victims unaccounted for. Save the Children points out the concerning increase in children and minors affected by trafficking, which increased from 9% to 13% within a single year. Many of these children end up contributing to underground labor, which fuels the Italian economy.

The risk factor for other workers falling victim to forced labor and labor trafficking in Italy feeds to these statistics. The United States Department of State found that, in 2020, roughly 3.7 million irregular workers and 1.5 million unregistered workers were at potential risk of labor-related trafficking.

Preventing Human Trafficking in Italy

The U.S. Department of State classifies Italy as a Tier 2 country. This means that the Italian government has participated in some efforts to combat human trafficking but still has work to do. For example, the country has demonstrated greater cooperation with international policies and laws against human trafficking. It has also prioritized additional fundraising to support victims of trafficking and places more emphasis on training Italian law enforcement to address trafficking.

In addition, many global groups such as the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) have worked hard to hold countries like Italy accountable for strengthening their policies. GRETA has noted decent progress on the issue of human trafficking in Italy. GRETA monitors human trafficking as the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings stipulates.

The Council maintains a human rights treaty among European Nations and the Council of Europe to reach an overarching goal of assisting and protecting trafficked human beings. GRETA thus performs legislative evaluations to ensure countries meet these goals and provides comprehensive reports and guidelines on combatting trafficking and prosecuting identified traffickers.

GRETA has acknowledged the progress in combating human trafficking in Italy as recently as 2019. The Italian government increased its funding for anti-trafficking projects, which has gone toward safeguarding protections for unaccompanied children who have fallen victim to human trafficking in Italy.

Challenges in Combatting Human Trafficking in Italy

The U.S. Department of State has noted that Italy still has not reached the “minimum standards” necessary to adequately and fully combat trafficking. As a result, the U.S. government has kept Italy at a Tier 2 status. Italy is not meeting the standards due to a decrease in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The Italian Ministry of Interior reported only 135 trafficking investigations, which is a substantial decrease from 314 persons in 2018 and 482 persons in 2017. The government also does not have a consistent database for consolidated information about trafficking investigations, convictions or prosecutions. This adds to the difficulty of monitoring and assessment efforts.

Hope for the Future

Nevertheless, hope still exists in the fight against human trafficking in Italy. The U.S. government noted improvement in Italy’s 2020 trafficking report, acknowledging the measures the country implemented, even though there is still room for improvement. For example, improvements have emerged in victim assistance and increased funding for victims and victim’s rights groups. Funding has also gone toward NGOs advocating for trafficking rights, which GRETA specifically acknowledges as a step toward overall improvement in policies. With these efforts, Italy can reduce incidents of human trafficking in the country,

– Rebecca Fontana
Photo: Flickr