President Osmani's speech at the launch of the campaign against Human Trafficking

Dear Prime Minister Kurti!
Dear Minister Nagavci!
Dear Deputy Minister of the Interior Gashani!
Representatives of security and justice institutions!
Representatives of embassies and international organizations!
Ladies and gentlemen!

I thank you for organizing this conference and for the opportunity that today, in the spirit of the European Day against human trafficking, we can together discuss an extremely dangerous phenomenon for every society, therefore for our society as well.

At a time when such dangerous phenomena for society have become global, our mobilization should also be a joint one. For this reason, marking this day in our country shows not only the sensitivity and care that the country's institutions show against such phenomena but also our willingness to cooperate and coordinate our actions with important partners in combating such phenomena.

The fact that today we are launching the campaign against human trafficking testifies to the readiness of our institutions to face this dangerous phenomenon, but also to be cooperative with all countries that are facing such situations, and that by cooperating and coordinating with other democratic countries we may achieve our goals.

I take the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Internal Affairs and in particular the national coordinator on human trafficking, Mr. Gashani, for his dedication and determination to coordinate efforts in combating this phenomenon.

Trafficking in human beings is not only a serious crime and a serious violation of human dignity and rights but is also a constant and deeply disturbing challenge to our societies.

The operating space for traffickers has increased in 2022, taking into account the global crisis caused as a result of Russia's illegal and unprovoked war on Ukraine, which has seriously undermined the global order and has influenced the world in general to turn into a more insecure environment. Consequently, it has expanded the terrain for human traffickers many times over.

The refugee crisis, caused as a result of the war followed by the energy crisis, the changed economic parameters but also fragile security, destabilizing trends and social instability, as well as the challenges of the rule of law all over the world have enabled an increasingly favourable space for human trafficking. Such fragile situations encourage criminal networks to try to exploit every loophole to expand their criminal activity. Illegal sex trafficking, especially of women and children in and around Ukraine has increased significantly. Millions of women and children are leaving their homes in search of safety, and some of them end up moving from the tragedy of war to the tragedy of trafficking. This is the pain that our civilization must face and to which it must give the right answer.

The second issue which I want to emphasize is the often wrong perception of the way traffickers operate. For a large part of society, human trafficking seems like a distant phenomenon, which affects only certain groups of society and implies isolated actions. In fact, this is a wrong perception. 

Because traffickers not only affect certain categories of society, but they also take advantage of every opportunity and violate everyone's freedom. Trafficking knows no race, no gender, and no age.

The third issue I want to highlight is the interrelationship of human trafficking with many sectors of society. As it is well known, countless businesses closely connected to traffickers' networks, often aim to take advantage of the lack of economic perspective and social inequality faced by victims of trafficking. They use the misfortune of some categories of society, first of all the impoverished categories to get rich illegally. The state must find out the activity of each economic entity and create mechanisms that sanction those businesses that misuse their role in society to the detriment of those who may have remained hostage to poverty.

The forms of trafficking are different, from sexual exploitation including prostitution, slavery, forced labour, forced deprivation of liberty and related practices and hence our response must be one and firm. This, of course, is not always easy. Trafficking can often be camouflaged with other criminal activities. Quite often, the victims are exploited in different ways and within other illegal activities, but these cases of human trafficking are not investigated and registered as such.

The lack of uniform systems for identifying and combating human traffickers, but also the inconsistency in identifying cases of trafficking in some countries of the region and institutional limitations, but also the approach of countries to leave the fight against this phenomenon in the hands of the police only excluding other institutions, especially excluding labor inspectors cases of identification processes, have in some countries of the region negatively affected the successful identification of trafficking cases. However, Kosovo is already setting a good example of cooperation between the Police and the Labor Inspectorate, so that victims of trafficking are identified and offered legal support.  

Dear participants!

Trafficking has today reached alarming proportions. About 27 million people – 27 million women, men and children – are trafficked every year around the world. Almost three-quarters of all victims within the EU are women and underage girls, who are mainly trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, that is, rape. They continue to be the greatest victims of traffickers. Children also constitute an extremely worrying number of victims within the EU, the majority of whom are also little girls, who are trafficked for sexual exploitation. This is an extremely serious concern for many countries. In Kosovo, 86% of trafficking victims are women and girls, while more than 60% of them are under the age of 18.

Another disturbing dimension, which I want to underline is that, as in our entire region, even in Kosovo statistics continue to remain incomplete. But the few statistics that do exist speak with one voice: the economic empowerment of women and girls is the main prerequisite for combating human trafficking. The other prerequisite, of course, is the rule of law for which there has never been more political will and concrete actions than there is now.

Therefore, we must continue to act. Because it is essential that we jointly increase the efficiency of state and interstate engagement. Cooperation is key to success in this battle. We must also further strengthen the state authorities, which have responsibility for prevention, but also awareness of citizens against these crimes.

The fact that Kosovo has already approved the new Anti-Trafficking Strategy, as well as the action plan for it, remains encouraging. We have also established the National Authority against Trafficking in Human Beings, as well as the Commission for Compensation of Victims. However, the few sentences for traffickers and the imposition of very inadequate sentencing by the justice system can affect our collective success in the battle against traffickers, so I want to encourage the justice institutions to treat trafficking cases with the necessary professional dedication and with integrity.

What makes the situation even more disturbing is the fact that trafficking networks are increasingly showing higher levels of “professionalism” and expertise as well as sophistication in the use of their illegal methods. In this regard, the misuse of information technology by criminals for the recruitment and exploitation of trafficking victims is especially noticeable.

Faced with such a reality, Kosovo's membership in international and regional security organizations, and in particular INTERPOL, is not only a political ambition of a sovereign country. It is a necessity for the protection of citizens. Therefore, such membership would have a multiple impact on better coordination with other countries in maintaining a secure global environment, as well as in combating phenomena such as human trafficking.

As I said at the beginning of this address, trafficking does not only exist in one country and in one nation only. It is international, as the battle against it must be global as well. Without full cooperation between countries and services, without coordination of the work of security institutions, justice institutions and other institutions, total success against traffickers cannot be imagined. Therefore, I want to call today for the rapid membership of Kosovo in all international mechanisms, seeking the support of all countries. This membership is a prerequisite for our success in the fight against human trafficking and in general the fight against international crime. Our membership, in particular in INTERPOL and the Council of Europe, would seal our collective efforts to fight organized crime and trafficking networks throughout the Western Balkans. Membership in the Council of Europe, in particular, would strengthen our efforts for further progress thus allowing the adoption of special measures and procedures for the identification of victims of trafficking and the provision of appropriate assistance.

Therefore, our intention to join these organizations is above all related to our serious efforts to fight organized crime, to guarantee the highest level of human rights, and to prove ourselves as a reliable partner in addressing the challenges that we have in common and that hurt and damage us incessantly.

No one can be against organized crime, and against Kosovo in INTERPOL. Thus, if someone is against organized crime, they should be pro-Kosovo in INTERPOL. If someone is in favour of human rights, they should also be in favour of Kosovo in the Council of Europe.

In our efforts to combat these dangerous phenomena, cooperation and standardization of prevention, protection and prosecution protocols are the most effective way of cooperation towards guaranteeing a future free from the clutches of human trafficking. The protection of human rights is the most realistic measure of the success of democracies. We do not only have a legal but also a moral and collective responsibility to fight human trafficking and provide adequate support and protection for the victims.  

Thank you!

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