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Data Collection Meetings, Albania

14 May 2012

The Aim of the Mission

The mission took place in order to strengthen the cooperation and cohesion within the project Joint Efforts of Police and Health Authorities in the EU Member States and Third Countries to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Human Beings and Protect and Assist Victims of Trafficking” and set the next steps preparing activities described in the plan of action of the project in Albania.

The mission has also been planned with the aim to strengthen the partnership with Albania, discuss with the partners and potential partners future cooperation and identify fields of activities reinforcing the project impact in the field of police, justice, health, labour, social and educational fields.

Patsy Sörensen  and Peter von Bethlenfalvy have reported on their mission to Albania which was envisaged in the plan of action of the project. The participants have taken note of the fact that Albania has made a considerable progress as regards the jurisdiction and the development of new administrative structures on the level of central government. A number of well described publications prepared by the relevant ministries and international organisations in Tirana give a clear account of development such as the creation of THB focal points in the ministries of interior, health, social and labour, education, etc. The horizontal approach in administrative adjustment in Albania will be subject for extensive discussion during the third expert meeting in the Hague 25 and 26 June 2012.

In particular the mission discussed extensively the elaboration of material for the project curricula, the manual and the standard operational procedures relating to the interaction of law enforcement and health authorities. In cooperation with the Mediterranean and European University of Albania it has been agreed that the training course to be compiled and prepared for specific purposes in Albania by University of Krems will take place between 14 and 16 March 2013.

The mission also concentrated on specific priorities of Albania when tackling the issues of victim protection, preventing of THB and specifics in combating THB with the input of EU legislation and standards.

The outcomes of the visit

The mission has met for extensive exchanges a number of government officials, research institutions, NGO’s parliamentarians, entrepreneurs, universities, service providers international organisations and independent experts.  Amongst the fore mentioned were the ministries of Interior and Security, Labour and  Social Affairs, Equal Opportunity, Education, italbbeldynamics (translation bureau), Mediterranean University, Catholic University, Albania on Line, Committee on Social and Health Issues of the Parliament, IOM,  etc. 

Evidently, the main interest of the Albanian interlocutors was the partnership and innovative cooperation provided by the EC/ISEC/PAYOKE/UNI KREMS project linking horizontally action in the field of law enforcement and health concerns in the combating THB. Albania has exceptionally well advanced in fighting organised crime by way of information sharing, data collection and a well-developed referral system in place. Its efforts to develop a functioning reintegration mechanism for THB victims in their home environment has been awarded by the EU with a free visa system within the Schengen space. It is needless to say that Albania is actively looking for new partnerships in order to strengthen its judicial and security systems leading to identification, detection and prosecution of organised crime, in  particular THB. At the same time Albanians evident efforts are concentrating on prevention and victim protection.

The Albanian Policy on THB

Thus Albania has progressed significantly in reintegration assistance given to returning victims of THB by way of reinforced institutional cooperation amongst state and non-state actors, enhanced public information on the issue of THB having an impact on reintegration as well as prevention and finally giving more prominence to gender equality issues. Although progress has been achieved in this efforts, Albania has expressed much interest and described the needs for continual activities and support of it structures necessary for reinforcing practical cooperation amongst partners on national as well as European levels respectively.

The Albanian Strategy on Reintegration of Returned Albanian Citizens 2010 to 2015 is a policy document of serious impact on national legislative work and practical issues around THB and the complexities guiding institutional collaboration on all levels.  This strategy document is clearly describing the aims and objectives of the so called Migration Counters in 12 Regional Directorates and two local Employment Offices. The PAYOKE mission has discussed modalities to reinforce service given to the THB returning victims seeking specific assistance in these Counters and centres. The Albanian authorities have showed much interest to deepen the exchange with the EC/ISEC/PAYOKE project partners when setting standards and new models of cooperation between different governmental departments and institutions. The question of reinforced and improved cooperation between the state and non-state actors were identified as an issue of need of further development. Another issue of need of cooperation within the EC/ISEC/PAYOKE project is the input by FRONTEX, EUROJUST and EUROPOL. The Albanian interlocutors have showed much interest to use the project platform for exchanging views and improving training mechanisms tackling their work in the field of THB when operating at the frontier or within the space of EU judicial systems.

FOCAL POINTS on THB in Albania

Albania has developed over the years an extremely well-functioning system of focal points for THB in the ministries of health, interior, education, social and labour affairs and MOFA. It is of priority to the EC/ISEC/PAYOKE project to further develop the exchange with the Albanian partners in order to integrate their knowledge into the curricula and manuals under development by the project. It appears that the well-established structure of THB focal points in Albania could became a model for a number of countries in the EU in need to adapt their structure to the prevailing needs for improvements.

Standard Operating Procedures for Identification and Referral of Victims /Potential Victims of THB

The PAYOKE mission to Albania has extensively discussed the SOP for THBV with all the partners and interlocutors met during the above period.

Identification of the victims (on the frontiers and within the country as well as according to the categories i.e. children, sexual or labour exploitation, etc. );It has been noted with great satisfaction that the legal Act No 582 from 2011 stipulates the approval and implementation of the SOP for THBV and sets the responsibilities and  harmonisation guidelines for the ministries of Interior, FA, Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Health, Education and Science. This legal framework has reinforced the cooperation with all international actors active in the field of THB in Albania and furthermore set the modus operandi for a wide range of national action in the fields such as:

  • setting indicators of THB;
  • establishing assistance and protection of THBV;
  • licencing state and non-state management of shelters;
  • procedures to be used within the referral system;

The Albanian interlocutors and partners to the project have been invited to attend the expert meetings in KREMS (May 2012) and The Hague (June 2012). The extremely high Travel costs imposed by the operating  Airways between Tirana and Vienna may prevent unfortunately the participation of the Albanian partners in these meeting, as the EC is covering only limited costs of tickets.

Agreement between the Albanian interlocutors/partners and PAYOKE:

  • strengthen cooperation in elaborating the manuals and curricula for health care and law enforcement;
  • organisation of the training session in TIRANA, March 2013;
  • setting the spirit of cooperation between PAYOKE and the relevant ministries and academic institutions;
  • identifying the partner organisation for the logistic and venue of the event in Tirana February 2013.
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