People are not for sale! – Project Hosts Student Debate on Trafficking in Human Beings at the Faculty of Law

"Trafficking in Human Beings - 21st Century Slavery" was the topic of the Student Debate organized today by the “Further Institution and Capacity Building of the Police Service” project, funded by the EU, targeting the students from the Faculty of Law, University Ss Cyril and Methodius – Skopje and from the Faculty for Security, University St. Clement Ohridski – Bitola. As future lawyers, prosecutors, judges – from one side, and the future investigators and police officers on the other, it very likely that they might be the ones who will be fighting these occurrences in the very near future.

Trafficking in human beings is one of the most severe violations of human rights and a phenomenon that is present throughout the world. In light of the recent migrant and refugee crisis that Europe faced in the past year, the issues with smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings became even more relevant.

“There is a substantial difference between the two practices – while smuggling in migrants includes consent by the people being smuggled along with payment for the service, in cases of human trafficking such consent is absent and the act is considered to be a serious crime, equal to modern day slavery,” highlighted Ms. Aleksandra Gruevska-Drakulevski, Professor of Criminology and Penology at the Faculty of Law “Iustinianus Priumus”.

She noted that the first contact made by police officials is crucial in determining whether there is a case of smuggling of migrants or of human trafficking. Police officer’s education and professional experience is also quite important element.

Mr. Saud Kadic, Deputy Commander of the Police Station at the Ljubljana Airport, Slovenia, in his line of duty has been at the forefront in detecting potential victims of trafficking in human beings, as well as traffickers. He explained the basic indicators that could help reveal a case of human trafficking, and shared examples of his own work and experience.

Assistant Director at the Department for Border Affairs and Migration at the Public Security Bureau, Mr. Marinko Kocovski gave the students a practical perspective of how the Police have handled the situation with the flow of migrants and refugees coming from the south through the Western Balkan Route during 2015 and the first months of 2016. He stressed that the more the transit of the migrants was restricted to exclude economic migrants from the refugees, the more the smugglers were taking over, increasing the prices for their services. The cases of trafficking in human beings, as he noted, have also increased in the midst of the refugee crisis.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the largest global entity that works to protect the rights of the migrants and raise awareness on the trafficking in human beings. Ms. Ivona Zakoska-Todorovska, Migrant Assistance Specialist at IOM Skopje, gave an overview of the rights of the migrants, according to national and international standards, with special focus on the vulnerable categories. She presented the findings of the recent research IOM has conducted on the field by interviewing nearly 3.500 refugees. The results have shown that 5.5% of the migrants transiting the country were subjected to attempts of human trafficking, which is significantly high number.

In the course of the debate, students were given the opportunity to see two videos about human trafficking, part of the awareness raising campaign “Exit” aired on MTV, featuring the famous film actress and human rights defender Angelina Jolie.

The debate was concluded with a vibrant discussion with the students who were eager to learn more about theconsequences and most common forms of exploitation of victims of human trafficking, as well as the legal aspects and institutional mechanisms for tackling this phenomenon.

The Student Debate was organized in cooperation with the Faculty of Law, IOM and the Department for Border Affairs and Migration at the Public Security Bureau.

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