On October 18th, in Skopje, an event was held to mark the European Anti-Trafficking Day and announce the beginning of the web-based Informative Campaign aimed to raise the awareness of the vulnerable populations on the dangers associated to trafficking in human beings with particular focus on trafficking in human beings for sexual and for labor exploitation and child marriages as a form of child trafficking. The event and the informative campaign are being implemented within the framework of a project funded by the European Union and co-funded by IOM Development Fund and implemented by the International Organization for Migration – IOM in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy.
The Ministry of Interior’s State Secretary Ms. Magdalena Nestorovska noted that the human trafficking is not only a criminal act with elements of organized crime, but a much more flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, a violation of human dignity and integrity, or in other words, modern slavery. She also noted that, of the nine identified victims in our country last year, six were children, all citizens of Republic of North Macedonia and all were sexually exploited and forced into marriage, and that this year there were three new cases of child trafficking. Police have filed nine criminal charges against 23 perpetrators of human trafficking. According to Nestorovska, the first suspect in child trafficking was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the first time, and the second and third defendants to 14 years in prison.
The Ministry of Labour’s State Secretary Ms. Jovana Trencevska noted that in order to improve the process of identification and protection, during the past period, with the support of IOM 5 mobile teams were established in Skopje, Bitola, Kumanovo, Gevgelija and Tetovo for identification of vulnerable categories of citizens including victims of human trafficking composed of representatives of the Centers for Social Work, law enforcement officers and civil society organizations. During their work for the first nine months of 2019, mobile teams have achieved outstanding results, identifying and supporting 3 victims of trafficking, 63 potential victims of trafficking and a large number of vulnerable persons who are referred to appropriate assistance and support to relevant institutions, the highest percentage of whom are children.
The Head of IOM Office Ms. Sonja Bozinovska Petrushevska informed the present that since the mid-1990s, IOM globally, with its partners, has provided assistance to approximately 100,000 men, women and children trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or removal of organs. In this context, IOM has a unique source of data received directly from the victims which is very useful for the organization, and for the institutions and partners we work with in developing relevant policies and implementing anti-trafficking and victim assistance activities. IOM in the Republic of North Macedonia is active in providing of capacity building trainings for the authorities on combating of trafficking in human beings, support of the identification and the direct assistance to the victims of trafficking in human beings
The event was concluded with a presentation of the informative video for raising the awareness of the vulnerable populations on the dangers associated with trafficking in human beings.