Written by Democracy

Human Rights, Rule of Law and Trafficking in Human Beings

ERVIN MUÇO

Abstract

Social problems take different shapes, depending on the individual, cultural, socio-economic characteristics and political life of a country. Their explanation consists in identifying the actors, factors, processes, situations and mechanisms that generate, shape and increase the purpose and impact of this problem in society. At the same time, it is equally important to consider opposing processes aimed at eliminating or reducing the influence of generating factors and mechanisms. This paper aims to explain the phenomenon of trafficking of human beings from these two dimensions.

Despite the efforts to define human trafficking, there is still no agreement in the international community on how human trafficking should be defined. In addition, the fight against trafficking in human beings is conditioned by the will of states to proactively fight this phenomenon by punishing the perpetrators, reintegrating the victims and drafting policies to prevent the phenomenon.

Globally, 47 countries have not yet recognized human trafficking as a crime in accordance with international standards. Approximately, 100 states have not yet criminalized or punished forced labour.[1]

The paper explores and justifies the background, extent, factors and actors that lead to human trafficking. At the same time, it analyzes the policies, mechanisms and measures taken to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings. Also, it provides ideas and recommendations for further debate and developments in this area.

Keywords: rule of law, human rights, trafficking in human beings, slavery, organised crime

Introduction

Trafficking in human beings is a sad reality where men, women and children remain victims of modern slavery. It constitutes a serious violation of human rights by restricting freedom and endangering the lives and safety of victims. It places the trafficked person in a state of slavery for the purpose of abusing and exploiting him/her. Victims are deceived, sold, bought, abducted and exploited for various purposes such as marriage, work, sale of body organs as well as recruitment to terrorist and organized crime organizations. Many of the products we use in our daily life are obtained through coercion, violence, deception, intimidation and victimization.

The consequences of this crime negatively affect the individual victims, their families, communities as well as the economic stability of a country, the rule of law, human rights and the democracy. Victims of trafficking are isolated from the rest of society. They sever their relationship with family, society and social institutions by limiting their access to services such as health and education.

Trafficking in human beings creates feelings of anxiety, fear, insecurity as well as reduces mutual trust between members of society with each other and with state institutions. Moreover, it hinders the development of the economy by enabling states, organized crime networks, businesses/corporations as well as individuals to maximize their benefits through the exploitation of unpaid (or poorly unpaid) labour.

Despite the efforts of the international community, the fight against trafficking in human beings remains strong on paper but weak in practice. Globally, 47 countries have not yet recognized trafficking in human beings as a crime in line with international standards. Approximately 100 states have not yet criminalized forced labour, but even in cases where they have done so, punishment for perpetrators is accompanied by an administrative measure (fine). Meanwhile, less than a third of states protect women and girls from injury as a result of forced marriage.[2]

Currently, about 40.3 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Seventy-one per cent of people “stuck” in modern slavery are women and 29 per cent are men.[3] About 24.9 million people are in forced labour and 15.4 million of them live in a forced marriage.[4] In the past five years, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery for periods of time ranging from a few days to the whole five years.[5]

According to ILO, the income provided by forced labour reaches the figure of approximately US$150 billion per year ($99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation; $34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities; $9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing; $8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labour. Revenue from organ trafficking is estimated to range between US$840 million and US$1.7 billion.[6]

Meanwhile, developed countries are highly exposed to the risk of slavery within support chains. The G20 countries import over US$354 billion worth of ‘at-risk’ products each year, produced in countries where people are subject to forced labour. The US is the largest importer of products at risk (US$144 billion). Data for the US are three times higher than the second-largest importer of the G20, Japan (US$47 billion), followed by Germany with (US$30 billion, the UK with (US$18 billion) and France with (US$16 billion). Products such as laptops, computers and mobile phones represent the largest category of imports at risk with value (US$200 billion), followed by clothing (US$127.7 billion), fisheries (US$12.9 billion), cocoa (US$3.6 billion) and sugar cane (US$2.1 billion). Australia imports over US$4 billion at-risk clothing and accessories provided by slavery in support chains.[7]

Meanwhile, the criminal justice system is powerless to respond to the challenge and dynamics of human trafficking. According to the US State Department, in 2019, 118,932 victims were identified (or 0.27% of the total number of trafficked people) and 11,841 prosecutions were launched which resulted in 9,548 convictions.[8] In Europe, the number of victims identified is 17,383 persons and 2,896 prosecutions launched which resulted in 1,346 convictions.[9] During the period 2014-2017 around 36 per cent of countries have not had any convictions or have recorded less than ten convictions.[10]

In Albania, the Global Slavery Index estimates show that there are about 20,000 victims of modern-day slavery, approximately 6.87 victims per 1,000 inhabitants.[11] During 2019 the Albanian government and NGOs identified 96 potential victims of which only 7 of them received the official status of a victim of trafficking.[12] The Albanian State Police (ASP) investigated 41 cases with 62 suspects. The General Prosecution Office (GPO) investigated 25 new cases with 14 defendants for adult trafficking and child trafficking. GPO prosecuted 3 cases with 3 defendants. Courts convicted 5 traffickers.[13] These data show that the efforts of the Albanian government to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings as well as to identify, protect and reintegrate its victims are far from being considered successful.

In 2019, the G20 leaders committed to promoting due diligence on human rights in corporate operations and supply chains in line with internationally recognized standards, such as the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). However, efforts made by the international community have not yet provided a realistic assessment of the extent of the phenomenon. The G20 countries are still far from formalizing laws or policies that prevent businesses from providing services and products provided by forced / slave labour. More than half of them have not yet formally adopted laws, policies or practices aimed at barring business and government resources from products and services produced by forced labour.[14]

The above data show that the international community as well as the Albanian state will not be able to achieve SDG target 8.7 to eradicate human trafficking by 2030. If we want to eradicate modern slavery by 2030, we must liberate 10,000 victims every day. Similarly, referring to data on human trafficking in Albania, 5 victims per day will have to be identified and rescued in order to eradicate modern slavery. These forecasts are relevant as long as the number of victims of trafficking remains unchanged.

Problem definition

The purpose of the fight against trafficking in human beings is to prevent its impact on the lives of people and society (locally and globally), to punish the perpetrators, reintegrate the victims and eliminate the factors and actors that make people vulnerable to exploitation.

Understood as a principle according to which laws have ultimate authority over the actions of all individuals (including government representatives) and that governmental authority is exercised only in accordance with publicly disclosed laws and regulations and is subject to the normal controls of an independent judiciary, the rule of law is a prerequisite for a comprehensive approach to understanding and responding to trafficking in human beings (preventing and combating the phenomenon as well as identifying, protecting and reintegrating victims of trafficking).

The penal approach is not sufficient in preventing and combating trafficking in human beings. Often, it is undermined by corruption, legal loopholes, law enforcement incompetence as well as the interaction between state actors with organized crime and business, making individuals and societies more vulnerable to trafficking, enslavement and exploitation.

The paper aims to give an understanding of human trafficking from a perspective of human rights and the rule of law, in the Albanian context. It explores the Albanian state’s approach to trafficking in human beings and its consequences both in the context of preventing and combating the phenomenon and in promoting, supporting or spreading it.

Thus, this paper provides an overview of human trafficking, its extent, factors and actors involved in this crime. It highlights the source of the state’s liabilities and explains how the state is legally responsible for the spread of the phenomenon and the harm caused by it, although this may not be a direct intent. It supports the approach that the protection of human rights and the promotion of the rule of law are the most effective strategies for preventing and combating trafficking and exploitation.

Trafficking in human beings as a problem related to human rights and the rule of law

International law recognizes trafficking in human beings as a crime against human rights. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (art. 6) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 35)—contain a substantive reference to trafficking. The Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the European Union Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, identify trafficking as a violation of human rights. The United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have repeatedly affirmed that trafficking violates and impairs fundamental human rights, as have many of the international human rights mechanisms.

The Declaration adopted on 24 September 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly at the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels reaffirmed that “human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that they belong to the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations”.[15]

The rule of law is not just an instrument for establishing and enforcing the law in the interest of society as a whole. At the same time, the rule of law is the key to guaranteeing and developing democracy and good governance.[16] The UNDP recognises the rule of law as “the centre of the relationship between society and the state. Measures to establish or strengthen the rule of law are the basis for creating accountability among people as well as between citizens and their governments”.[17]

Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease, and protects people from injustices. It is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity, and peace—underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights. Traditionally, the rule of law has been viewed as the domain of lawyers and judges. But everyday issues of safety, rights, justice, and governance affect us all; everyone is a stakeholder in the rule of law.[18]

There are several ways to explain the link between human rights and the prevention and fight against trafficking in human beings.

Slavery and trafficking in human beings go against human nature. In this context, the possession of one or more people for purposes of exploitation by individuals, groups or states is considered not only illegal but also amoral.

Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, politics, sexual orientation, exposes individuals to trafficking and makes victims of trafficking invisible to law enforcement, policymakers, service providers, and researchers.

Also, the concept of human rights and the rule of law is of particular importance in understanding the efforts of states and the international community in the fight against trafficking in human beings (including preventing and combating the phenomenon as well as identifying, protecting and reintegrating of victims of trafficking). Such an approach enables the identification of discriminatory practices as well as the unequal distribution of power which favour trafficking, prevent the perpetrators from being punished, and deny justice to victims. In this context, the fight against trafficking in human beings is closely linked to the situation of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

In democratic societies, human rights and the rule of law aimed at achieving equality or a set of equal rights for all. They prohibit illegal detention, forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage as well as the sexual exploitation of women and children. At the same time, they give priority to freedom of movement and the right to leave and return to one’s country.

Thus, the rule of law and human rights are two closely related concepts guided by the same principle, the freedom to live with dignity: all human beings have the right to be treated with dignity and respect (para. 27). Their common goal is: to protect the life, health and dignity of the people. This relationship has been known since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that it is essential “if a man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law”.[19]

The rule of law is the key instrument that protects and promotes human rights by giving people the opportunity to enjoy them and thus live with dignity and respect. This principle, of freedom to live with dignity, is also the basis of the international human rights framework, in accordance with the international humanitarian lawinternational criminal law and international refugee law. The rule of law provides a structure through which the exercise of power is subjected to agreed rules, guaranteeing the protection of all human rights (United Nations). It enables the implementation of human rights mechanisms, turning them from principles into reality.

According to the United Nation Organisation, the rule of law refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. Also, it requires measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.[20]

World Justice Project uses two principles to assess the rule of law:

The first principle measures whether the law imposes limits on the exercise of power by the state and its agents, as well as individuals and private entities.

The second principle measures whether the state limits the actions of members of society and fulfils its basic duties toward its population so that the public interest is served, people are protected from violence, and all members of society have access to dispute settlement and grievance mechanisms.[21]

The World Justice Project defines the rule of law as a durable system of laws, institutions, norms, and community commitment that delivers:

  • Accountability: The government, as well as private actors, are accountable under the law
  • Just Laws: The laws are clear, publicized, and stable; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and contract, property, and human rights.
  • Open Government: The processes by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
  • Accessible and Impartial Dispute Resolution: Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.[22]

Efforts of the international community in preventing and combating trafficking in human beings

The year 2000 represents a significant moment on the commitment of the international community in the fight against Trafficking in Human Beings. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted by the General Assembly in 2000 (the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted by the General Assembly in 2000) represents one of the key documents drafted in the fight against trafficking in human beings. From it arose the Protocols and Conventions which required States parties not only to sign them but also to make them part of their domestic legislation.

One of the purposes of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Trafficking in Persons Protocol, is to protect and assist victims of trafficking, in respect of full of human rights (Art. 2 (b)). The protocol sets out specific standards of assistance and protection for victims of trafficking for their physical, psychological and social recovery (e.g. housing; counselling; medical, psychological and material assistance; employment; educational and training opportunities; availability of residence permits; facilitation of repatriation and non-liability).

Meanwhile, the European Union is strongly committed to preventing and combating trafficking in human beings as well as protecting its victims. To address trafficking in human beings the EU has put in place a comprehensive, gender-specific and victim-centred legal and policy framework, namely the Directive 2011/36 / EU on combating and preventing trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims as well as the EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings for the period 2012-2016.[23] It establishes robust provisions on victim’s protection, assistance and support, but also on prevention and prosecution of the crime.[24]

At the same time, EU recognises trafficking in human beings as: as a priority crime threat area in the EU Policy on Organised and Serious International Crime 2014-2017 and the EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2017. To this effect, a European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats (EMPACT THB) has been developed to focus on trafficking in human beings. Under EMPACT THB a multi-annual strategic plan and an annual operational action plan are developed and implemented for the whole policy cycle.[25]

In 2012, the United Nations Conference in Rio de Janeiro adopted the Sustainable Development Goals as an instrument to set a universal goal of helping to meet the environmental, political and economic challenges of society worldwide. Also, the focus of this document is the fight against human trafficking, modern slavery and the reduction of unemployment on a global scale. The objective 8.7 of this document states: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”[26]

The approach of the Albanian state to human trafficking

Albania has been part of international conventions for the fight against trafficking in human beings since the beginning of its formation as a state. Thus, aiming to put an end to what was called “white trade”, two conferences were held in Paris in 1902 and 1910, respectively, which were finalized with the signing of the International Convention on the Suppression of White-Slave Trafficking (Paris, 4 May 1910), accompanied by the International Convention on the Suppression of the Trafficking in Women and Children (September 30, 1921) and the International Convention on the Suppression of the Trafficking in Older Women (Geneva, October 11, 1933). These conventions were also signed by the Albanian governments of that time:

  • The International Convention on the Suppression of the Trafficking in Women and Children signed on October 13, 1924 (signed by the government of Fan Noli); and
  • The International Convention on the Suppression of Trafficking in Older Women, Geneva, 11 October 1933, (signed by the government of King Ahmet Zog).

The Convention on the Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons and of the Exploitation of Others for Prostitution (New York, 2 December 1949) repealed and partially replaced the measures of previous international instruments. This convention was not signed by the Albanian government of that time claiming that:

“Thanks to the conditions created by the popular democratic regime in Albania, the violations covered by this Convention do not find suitable ground for development, given that the social conditions that give rise to these crimes have been eliminated. However, taking into account the importance of the campaign against these criminal offences in the countries where they still exist and the international importance of this campaign, the People’s Republic of Albania has decided to accede to the Convention on the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and Exploitation of Others for Prostitution, Adopted on December 2, 1949, at the Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly.”

Legislation drafted during the communist regime did not criminalize trafficking. For the most part, there was a law banning prostitution. With the change of the political system, the Albanian state faced the lack of adequate legislation to recognize the phenomenon of trafficking as well as to prevent and fight it effectively. The Criminal Code adopted in 1995 was a very weak tool to identify, combat and prevent the phenomenon.

In 2001, trafficking was defined as a criminal offence in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Albania, provided in Law 8733 date 24.01.2001 with the following crimes:

Trafficking in human beings, article 110/a;

Trafficking in women for prostitution, Article 114/b;

Child trafficking, Article 128/b.

From 2001 onwards, the Albanian state drafted a series of strategies aimed at preventing and combating trafficking as well as the identification, protection and reintegration of victims, such as:

The National Anti-Trafficking Strategy 2001-2004;

The National Action Plan 2003-2004;

The Albanian National Strategy for the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings. Strategic Framework and National Action Plan 2005-2007;

The Anti-Trafficking Strategy and Action Plan 2014-2017.

Also, the Albanian government signed different agreements, convents and protocols, such as:

“United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” and its two additional protocols:

  • “Protocol against the Traffic of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea” and
  • “Protocol to prevent, deter and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children”.
  • UN Protocol on the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Minors 2000.[27]

Currently, in its efforts to integrate into the family of the European Union, Albania must meet 15 conditions where at least two of them are closely related to the fight against trafficking in human beings:

  • Judicial reform
  • Tangible and sustainable achievements in fighting corruption and organized crime at all levels, including the initiation and conclusion of judicial proceedings against high functionaries and politicians.[28]

Limitations of understanding human trafficking in Albania

Data from Albania show that trafficking in human beings is mostly discussed in terms of trafficking in women and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The following is a picture of the main views dominating the discourse on trafficking in human beings in Albania.

Firstly, trafficking in human beings is a new phenomenon for Albanian society, which emerged after the fall of the communist regime;

Secondly, trafficking in human beings is a phenomenon related to the Albanian tradition;

Thirdly, trafficking is a prostitution-related phenomenon;

Fourthly, trafficking is a phenomenon that affects only children and women;

Fifthly, trafficking necessarily involves the transfer of the victim.

The claim that the Albanian state created the appropriate social conditions to end trafficking in human beings and the belief that it (the Albanian state) achieved this goal, continues to dominate in today’s literature. “In the studies of some Albanian authors, to whom we have referred, it has been asserted that in Albania “there is no history” of trafficking for the purpose of prostitution or other forms of exploitation for financial gain. At least it is not a typical Albanian phenomenon”.[29]

The advent of the communist regime in Albania (1944-45) ended the period of professional prostitution created during that time. But it, similarly, did not allow trafficking in women, adolescents or human beings in general. Even the fight against this type of trafficking (“wound of capitalism”) was considered part of the class war, while trafficked persons, drug addicts, prostitutes, etc …, were considered “a waste of society”.[30]

“The communist regime prevented trafficking” in its own way “, even without anti-trafficking laws”.[31]

A similar narrative is provided in the “National Strategy Against Child Trafficking and Child Protection Victims of Trafficking 2005-2007”. The introductory part of the strategy states that:

“Over the last decade, Albania has gone through a difficult and complex transition process, which has been accompanied by unemployment and poverty, previously unforeseen, uncontrolled demographic movements inside and outside the country and a new phenomenon, as a result of these changes. Initially, mass movements and departures to the West were made as a result of changing the political system, the need to open borders and a better life. Thus, by early 1992 there were massive outflows to the West, mainly to Greece and Italy, as the two closest countries. After 1992, after this mass emigration, criminal and corrupt elements began to create illegal trafficking routes, from where they secured huge profits. At this stage began the criminal activity of trafficking in human beings, including trafficking in women and children for the purpose of exploitation, a profoundly negative phenomenon in Albanian society, bringing huge profits to traffickers.[32]

Also, the report “Monitoring the print media for trafficking in women and girls” states that:

“Trafficking in human beings and, in particular, trafficking in women and girls is an accompanying problem of the post-communist transition in Albania.”[33]

These views have failed to accurately assess the policies and practices pursued by the communist regime which led to the enslavement of Albanian citizens.

Firstly, the authors offer a contradictory view of the trafficking in human beings as they initially claim that trafficking for the purpose of exploitation for prostitution or other purposes of exploitation “has no history” as “it has not been a typical Albanian phenomenon.” They then estimate that: “the arrival of the communist regime in Albania (1944-45), ended the period of professional prostitution created during that time”, implying, in this way, that there has been an extension of the phenomenon in Albania.

Secondly, the authors treat trafficking in terms of the movement of victims from within the country abroad or vice-versa by overshadowing (leaving) trafficking (slavery) within the country. They also appreciate the work of the communist state in preventing trafficking in human beings for the purpose of exploitation for prostitution by excluding other forms of slavery such as forced labour in labour camps or prisons.

Thirdly, the claim that the regime prevented trafficking “in its own way, even without anti-trafficking law” is incorrect. In the absence of a law defining trafficking, it is difficult to recognize similar practices.

Fourthly, data and studies show that both men, women and children were trafficked during the communist era in Albania. They prove that slavery was a normal (institutionalized) practice under the communism. Labour and internment camps are one form of how the so-called enemies of the people and “ordinary criminals” were enslaved, isolated and/or exploited by the communist regime. They (labour camps) were built in areas with significant economic resources and the main purpose of setting them up was to exploit labour and punish opponents of the system. Also, the internment process was based on the legislation of that time. Article 21 of the Criminal Code of the People’s Republic of Albania (1959) defined internment as: “the removal of a convict from his country and the obligation to stay in a certain place with or without corrective labour. “Internment is granted for a period of up to 10 years.”

In these labour camps, the convicts were forced to work in slave labour, in miserable conditions. As the following Amnesty International (AI) 1982 report states:

“Political prisoners have also been held in other prisons, such as Burrel and employed in labour camps in different parts of the country, to build factories and residential buildings, as well as to build drainage canals and mines. Under Decree no. 5912 of 1979 people may, formally, be interned or barred from moving, without trial (contrary to Article 56 of the constitution), for an indefinite period. This measure can be used against “family members of a fugitive living abroad” – which serves as a punitive measure against people who, themselves, have not necessarily violated Albanian law”.[34]

Meanwhile, referring to the Amnesty International Report 1956-1957:

“Conditions in prisons and concentration camps are reported to be very poor, with medical assistance completely inadequate. Amnesty International has identified 31 labour camps and prisons in Albania, although such data should not be seen as completely accurate (comprehensive). The number of prisoners in each of the labour camps should be around 1,500 and according to Amnesty International, some of these camps have only political and religious prisoners. “Many political prisoners are employed in industrial jobs, such as copper….”.[35]

The convicts in these camps were of different age groups including children, adults and the elderly who were forced to live in slavery conditions and performed hard labour in extreme conditions.

Another limitation on understanding human trafficking refers to the tendency to treat it as a phenomenon related to traditions (Albanian culture). According to this approach, trafficking is closely linked to the Kanun. According to Kara: “in countries where marriage is the only way for a woman to secure social acceptance, basic rights and avoid perpetual persecution, fictitious marriages are particularly effective in securing slaves in rural Albania. The gender rules of the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini make life extremely difficult for unmarried women.[36] He also emphasizes that “the aggressive submission of the Kanun to women as well as the strict laws of personal honour and blood feuds are two of the main contributors to the slave trade crisis in Albania”.[37] These approaches place significant limitations on understanding the phenomenon (focusing on prostitution), creating stereotypes about victims and perpetrators of trafficking (treating women as victims, and men as traffickers), and overshadowing other forms of trafficking (eg labour exploitation).

Firstly, the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini does not apply in rural Albania but in some areas of northern Albania (urban or rural). Also, the data show that most of the trafficked girls come from the area where the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini does not apply. Referring to the Different and Equal Report 2012: 48% of trafficking cases came from urban areas while 52% of cases came from rural areas. The areas with the highest number of cases are Tirana, Durrës and Berat.[38]

Secondly, Kara offers an over-generalization when he states that: “many parents in Albania sell their children to employment agents even though they know the risks”.[39] In his assertion, he offers no convincing evidence. Above all, it does not provide a description of the background (characteristics) of these parents as well as the agencies (their ways of acting) which buy and traffic these victims.

Issues related to the prevention and fight against trafficking as well as the identification, protection and reintegration of victims

The identification, protection and reintegration of victims of trafficking is an essential issue for their well-being, recovery and rehabilitation as well as for the prevention and fight against the phenomenon. Inadequate identification of victims has serious consequences for the victim such as re-exposure to trafficking, further exploitation as well as an unsafe environment. Unidentified victims are exposed to further traumatic experiences (eg homelessness, abortion, alcohol and drug addiction, disability, involvement in criminal activity and mental disorders) which have long-term effects on their life.

Informal economy. Trafficking in human beings is characterized by labour exploitation, disrespect for workers’ rights, non-payment or under-payment as well as lack of work safety.

In 2004, the Albanian Ombudsman raised concerns about workers’ rights violation: “as the unemployment rate is very high and consequently people are willing to work in the black, the violation of workers’ rights is becoming more and more common. There are a relatively large number of employers who do not register their employees and, as a result, do not pay social security. In these cases, employees also receive a lower payment than the minimum wage provided by law. Poor working conditions are also a worrying problem. There have been some cases of injuries or deaths as a result of employers not providing safe working conditions for their employees”.[40]

These issues are still relevant. Thus, only during the first 9 months of 2019, the labour inspectors conducted 10042 inspections identifying 2565 informal employees of which 882 were women, 237 employees under 18 years of which 81 were women and 903 foreign employees of whom 18 were without work permits.[41] At the same time, the above data do not help us to understand the real extent of the problem, due to the fact that the total number of businesses inspections by labour inspectors is very low when considering the total number of registered businesses nationwide that is about 162,342.[42]

Another problem is that of migrant workers. IOM states that: “State institutions and agencies rarely address the rights of migrant workers in Albania. Also, the legal and institutional framework on migrant workers’ rights is not supported by human capacities in addressing these issues… Police and law enforcement officials are not fully aware of the requirements and flow management standards migration, the rights of migrant workers and in particular migrant women. Migration issues are mainly addressed by central government institutions. Local government is almost not involved in treating, guaranteeing, supporting or monitoring the rights of migrant workers. The worker’s unions in the country have not shown any particular interest in protecting them. The most critical institutional gap is the fact that in Albania there are no state institutions to collect, analyze, monitor, or inform about respecting or violation of migrants’ rights”.[43]

According to IOM: “Currently Albania does not have any operational mechanism for collecting information on the implementation of migrants’ rights in the country. All institutions that are thought to be involved in the implementation of migrants ‘rights or the fight against the violation of migrants’ rights (State Labor Inspectorate, General Directorate of Border and Migration, Prosecution, Courts, Trade Unions, Ombudsman) have not regularly collected information on the implementation (violation) of migrants’ rights. Consequently, none of these institutions has been able to provide detailed information on these issues”.[44]

Also, the US Department of State Report on Trafficking in Person has raised several issues related to the work of labour inspectorate and victim’s identification:

  • The government lacked screening efforts for vulnerable populations—particularly migrants, asylum-seekers, individuals in commercial sex, and children—and authorities did not consistently participate in mobile victim identification units.[45]
  • The government did not make efforts to regulate or punish labour recruiters for illegal practices that increased migrants’ vulnerability to exploitation abroad. Labour inspectors did not have the authority to inspect informal work activities, including unregistered businesses.[46] Also, in 2016 the US Department revealed that: 28 out of 47 employment agencies in Albania, were legal operators.[47]
  • The Labor Inspectorate lacked the training to identify victims of forced labour, and identification of forced begging remained inadequate, particularly among unaccompanied children, street children, and children crossing borders for begging.[48]

Prosecution. Punishing perpetrators is an important aspect of preventing and combating trafficking. At the same time, it enables the early identification of victims as well as ensuring justice for them. According to the US State Department Report, there are a number of issues that hinder the effectiveness of criminal justice:

  • The low number of sentences. During 2018-2019, the Albanian government convicted five traffickers of human beings (the lowest number since 2014).
  • Lack of experience and capacity of district prosecutors to combat the phenomenon. District courts prosecuted trafficking cases without an organized crime nexus. District prosecutors did not have the specialized experience and capacity to prosecute trafficking cases successfully.
  • Confusion between overlapping elements of exploitation of prostitution and trafficking and at times applied the lesser charge because it required less specialization and time, or due to the false belief that trafficking crimes required a transnational element.
  • Limited resources and constant turnover within law enforcement.
  • The absence of any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offences. For instance, in 2015 the US Department revealed that: A Member of Parliament has previously been convicted of trafficking-related crimes.[49]

Victims protection. Poor state funding indicates that there is a lack of emphasis on political will to enable and providing quality protection to victims.

Financimimi i dobët nga ana e shtetit tregon se ka mungesë të theksuar të vullnetit politik për të mundësuar ofrimin e shërbimeve cilësore për viktimat.

The US Department of State Report Trafficking in Person shows that the Albanian government: did not consistently apply a victim-centred approach in investigations and prosecutions. In previous years, law enforcement did not consistently offer sufficient security and support, and victims and their families received threats during court proceedings.

The government did not transfer resources to a fund of seized criminal assets for victim support services in 2018 or 2019.

Also, the report states that: NGO-run shelters continued to operate under financial constraints and relied on outside sources for operating costs. Additionally, funding delays hindered shelter operations. Municipality grants prioritized NGOs that provided local assistance rather than the national scope needed for trafficking shelters, and experts alleged solicitation and bidding procedures at the municipal level were rife with corruption.

The government continued to delay funding for NGO-run shelters, and social services lacked resources for long-term care and reintegration efforts, particularly for child victims and victims with children. For example, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection did not approve funds for the government-run shelter to hire a part-time teacher for victims unable to attend school. Similarly, the government provided free textbooks to children in “social-economic difficulties,” but the definition of that phrase did not explicitly include trafficking victims, and some regional directorates of the Ministry of Education used that omission to exclude child victims from receiving free textbooks.

The government lacked screening efforts for vulnerable populations—particularly migrants, asylum-seekers, individuals in commercial sex, and children—and authorities did not consistently participate in mobile victim identification units.[50]

Lack of research on trafficking in human beings. There is a lack of support from the Albanian government to fund research in order to assess the spread of the phenomenon as well as other aspects related to trafficking.

Punishing victims of trafficking. In Albania, victims have been arrested and convicted of crimes committed under the trafficking situation. According to the US Department of State Report: the government prosecuted two victims and punished one victim for illegal acts committed as a result of being trafficked, although the law exempts victims from punishment for acts committed in these circumstances.[51]

CONCLUSIONS

Trafficking in human beings constitutes a violation of fundamental human rights. This puts the state at the centre of the problem as well as makes it necessary to study the phenomenon from a human rights and rule of law perspective.

High levels of corruption hamper the fight against traffickers in human beings, weak criminal processes (which lead to impunity for perpetrators), poor research on trafficking, and a lack of capacity and professionalism to identify victims, as well as legal loopholes. among the key factors hindering the fight against trafficking as well as the identification, protection and reintegration of victims.

Strategies and policies to combat trafficking in human beings will be successful if they are guided by the principles of the rule of law and centred on the protection of victims’ rights and access to justice and the restoration of human dignity.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Counting the culture of impunity by bringing to justice all perpetrators, including officials involved in crime.
  2. Support and finance research work and improve data collection.
  3. Increase institutional capacity in order to respond as well as possible to trafficking in human beings.
  4. Increasing the access of victims to justice, by providing identification, protection and training for more successful integration in society. At the same time, victims should be provided with access to compensation.
  5. Ongoing funding for service providers.

Ervin Muço is a Social Worker graduated at the University of Tirana. In 2018 he completed his PhD studies on Social Work, in the field of human trafficking. His field of research include: human trafficking, gender, domestic violence and organized crime. His research work is guided by the passion to develop critical thinking as well as to offer solutions to various social problems. He is the author of two books as well as a series of scientific articles in the field of Trafficking of Human beings. Also, he has participated in a number of conferences and projects at national and international levels. Recently he was selected by OSCE as an expert for the: “Research Expert to write a paper on a topic related to Criminology”. Ervin is a member of IASSW (International Association of Schools of Social Work).

References

Part of information and data used in this article are also quoted in:

​OSCE. Studime në Fushën e Kriminologjisë. Tiranë, pp. 51-98 <https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/2/0/453198.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

Muço, E. 2018. Trafikimi Njerëzor në Shqipëri: Perceptime dhe Qëndrime mbi Trafikimin Njerëzor, Raporte Ndërmjet Shoqërisë, Institucioneve dhe Viktimave të Trafikimit.” PhD diss., University of Tirana.

“Rule of Law Annual Report 2016”, UNDP. https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/democratic-governance/access_to_justiceandruleoflaw/rule-of-law-annual-report-2016/ accessed 20 September 2020.

  Claire Press. “Fashion identified as one of five key industries implicated in modern slavery,” in Vogue Australia, 2018. https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/fashion-identified-as-one-of-five-key-industries-implicated-in-modern-slavery/news-story/4cbd8bdc1168f3925bc8cbc96b1f6e6e

  Different and Equal. Study on the socio-economic reintegration of victims of trafficking in Albania, 2012, pp. 5-9. <http://www.stopvaw.org/uploads/study_on_social_economic_reintegration_-d_e.pdf> Accessed 16 September 2020.

“Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage” International Labour Office (ILO), Geneva, 2017 https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf

Global Slavery Index 2019. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2019/findings/foreword/ accessed 20 September 2020

  http://www.instat.gov.al/en/themes/industry-trade-and-services/business-register/publication/2020/press-release-business-register-2019/ accessed 24 September 2020.

https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/rule-of-law-and-human-rights/#:~:text=The%20rule%20of%20law%20is%20the%20implementation%20mechanism%20for%20human,a%20principle%20into%20a%20reality.&text=The%20rule%20of%20law%20and,an%20indivisible%20and%20intrinsic%20relationship accessed 20 September 2020

  https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/what-is-the-rule-of-law/  accessed 20 September 2020

  Inspektoriati i Punës. Analizë Statistikore e Treguesve të Inspektimit, 2019, pp. 7-8 <Analizë Statistikore e Treguesve të Inspektimit> Accessed 24 September 2020.

  IOM. (2016). Vlerësim për mbrojtjen e të drejtave të punëtorëve migrantë në Shqipëri. Albania, p. 33.

Lekë Sokoli dhe Ilir Gëdeshi. Trafikimi Rasti i Shqipërisë. Tiranë, 2006. Instituti i Sociologjisë, p. 20.

May, C 2017, Transnational Crime and the Developing World, Global Financial Integrity, p. 29. <Available from: http://www.gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Transnational_Crime-final.pdf.> accessed 20 September 2020.

Ministria e Brendshme. Raport Vlerësimi për Zbatimin e Strategjisë Kombëtare Kundër Trafikimit të Qenieve Njerëzore 2005-2007, Tiranē, 2008.

  Ministria e Brendshme. Raport Vlerësimi për Zbatimin e Strategjisë Kombëtare Kundër Trafikimit të Qenieve Njerëzore 2005-2007, Tiranē, 2008.

OSCE. (2004). Raport në Këshillin e Përhershëm Ambasadori Osmo Lipponen, Kryetar i Prezencës, p. 12. <http://www.osce.org/sq/albania/38064?download=true> accessed 16 September 2020.

See para. 5 in “Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels” (A/67/L.1), 19 September 2012, available athttp://unrol.org/files/Official%20Draft%20Resolution.pdf.

Siddharth Kara. Sex trafficking. Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. New York, 2009. Columbia University Press.

  The “rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies”, 23 August 2004 (S/2004/616), para. 6, recalled in “Delivering justice: the programme of action to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels”, 16 March 2012 (A/66/749), para. 2, <available at http://www.unrol.org/files/SGreport%20eng%20A_66_749.pdf>, accessed 20 September 2020.

The Amnesty International Report 1982. Amnesty International Publications. United Kingdom, pp. 256-258.  <https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL1000041982ENGLISH.PDF>  accessed 20 September 2020.

  The Amnesty International Report, 1 June 1975-31 May 1976. (1976). Amnesty International Publications. London, pp. 156-157. <https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL1000011976ENGLISH.PD> accessed 20 September 2020.

  Tobias Ruettershof. “The Opening of Accession Negotiations: A New Hope for Albania,” Tirana Observatory, 2020. https://tiranaobservatory.com/2020/05/08/the-opening-of-accession-negotiations-a-new-hope-for-albania/

  UN Women. Raport, Monitorimi i shtypit të shkruar për trafikimin e grave dhe vajzave, 2014, p. 10. <https://www2.unwomen.org/-/media/field%20office%20eca/attachments/publications/country/albania/printed%20media%20monitoring%20on%20trafficking%20of%20women%20and%20girls%20-%20final.pdf?la=en&vs=1308> accessed 20 September 2020.

  United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC), ‘Global Report on Trafficking in Persons’ (United Nations 2018) <https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2018/GLOTiP_2018_BOOK_web_small.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

  US Department of State, Trafficking in Person. Country Narratives, 2015 < https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/245365.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

  US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020<https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

  US Department of State. (2016). Trafficking in Persons Report. <https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

  US Department of State. (2017). Trafficking in Person. Country Narratives. <https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271341.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

  World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020. <https://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/WJP-ROLI-2020-Online_0.pdf> accessed 20 September 2020.


[1] Global Slavery Index 2019. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2019/findings/foreword/ accessed 20 September 2020

[2] Global Slavery Index 2019. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2019/findings/foreword/ accessed 20 September 2020

[3] Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage International Labour Office (ILO), Geneva, 2017 <https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf>

[4] Global Slavery Index 2019. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2019/findings/foreword/ accessed 20 September 2020

[5] Global Slavery Index 2019. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2019/findings/foreword/ accessed 20 September 2020

[6] May, C 2017, Transnational Crime and the Developing World, Global Financial Integrity, p. 29. <Available from: http://www.gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Transnational_Crime-final.pdf.> accessed 20 September 2020.

[7] Claire Press. “Fashion identified as one of five key industries implicated in modern slavery,” in Vogue Australia, 2018. https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/fashion-identified-as-one-of-five-key-industries-implicated-in-modern-slavery/news-story/4cbd8bdc1168f3925bc8cbc96b1f6e6e

[8] US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, p. 43 <https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[9] Ibid, p. 43.

[10] United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC), ‘Global Report on Trafficking in Persons’ (United Nations 2018) <https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2018/GLOTiP_2018_BOOK_web_small.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[11] Global Slavery Index 2019. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2019/findings/foreword/ accessed 20 September 2020

[12] US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, p. 58 <https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[13] Ibid, p. 58.

[14] Global Slavery Index 2019. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2019/findings/foreword/ accessed 20 September 2020

[15] See para. 5 in “Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels” (A/67/L.1), 19 September 2012, available athttp://unrol.org/files/Official%20Draft%20Resolution.pdf.

[16] The “rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies”, 23 August 2004 (S/2004/616), para. 6, recalled in “Delivering justice: the programme of action to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels”, 16 March 2012 (A/66/749), para. 2, <available at http://www.unrol.org/files/SGreport%20eng%20A_66_749.pdf>, accessed 20 September 2020.

[17] “Rule of Law Annual Report 2016”, UNDP. https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/democratic-governance/access_to_justiceandruleoflaw/rule-of-law-annual-report-2016/ accessed 20 September 2020.

[18] World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020. <https://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/WJP-ROLI-2020-Online_0.pdf> accessed 20 September 2020, p. 9.

[19] https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/rule-of-law-and-human-rights/#:~:text=The%20rule%20of%20law%20is%20the%20implementation%20mechanism%20for%20human,a%20principle%20into%20a%20reality.&text=The%20rule%20of%20law%20and,an%20indivisible%20and%20intrinsic%20relationship accessed 20 September 2020

[20] https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/what-is-the-rule-of-law/ accessed 20 September 2020

[21] World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020. <https://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/WJP-ROLI-2020-Online_0.pdf> accessed 20 September 2020, p. 9.

[22] World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020. <https://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/WJP-ROLI-2020-Online_0.pdf> accessed 20 September 2020, pp. 9-10.

[23] https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/trafficking-in-human-beings_en

[24] Ibid.

[25] https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/trafficking-in-human-beings_en

[26] https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal8

[27] Ministria e Brendshme. Raport Vlerësimi për Zbatimin e Strategjisë Kombëtare Kundër Trafikimit të Qenieve Njerëzore 2005-2007, Tiranē, 2008.

[28] Tobias Ruettershof. “The Opening of Accession Negotiations: A New Hope for Albania,” Tirana Observatory, 2020. https://tiranaobservatory.com/2020/05/08/the-opening-of-accession-negotiations-a-new-hope-for-albania/

[29] Lekë Sokoli dhe Ilir Gëdeshi. Trafikimi Rasti i Shqipërisë. Tiranë, 2006. Instituti i Sociologjisë, p. 20.

[30] Ibid, p. 23.

[31] Ibid, 23.

[32] Ministria e Brendshme. Raport Vlerësimi për Zbatimin e Strategjisë Kombëtare Kundër Trafikimit të Qenieve Njerëzore 2005-2007, Tiranē, 2008.

[33] UN Women. Raport, Monitorimi i shtypit të shkruar për trafikimin e grave dhe vajzave, 2014, p. 10. <https://www2.unwomen.org/-/media/field%20office%20eca/attachments/publications/country/albania/printed%20media%20monitoring%20on%20trafficking%20of%20women%20and%20girls%20-%20final.pdf?la=en&vs=1308> accessed 20 September 2020.

[34] The Amnesty International Report 1982. Amnesty International Publications. United Kingdom, pp. 256-258.  <https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL1000041982ENGLISH.PDF>  accessed 20 September 2020.

[35] The Amnesty International Report, 1 June 1975-31 May 1976. (1976). Amnesty International Publications. London, pp. 156-157. <https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL1000011976ENGLISH.PD> accessed 20 September 2020.

[36] Siddharth Kara. Sex trafficking. Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. New York, 2009. Columbia University Press, p. 7.

[37] Ibid, 130.

[38] Different and Equal. Study on the socio-economic reintegration of victims of trafficking in Albania 2012, pp. 5-9. <http://www.stopvaw.org/uploads/study_on_social_economic_reintegration_-d_e.pdf> Accessed 16 September 2020.

[39] Siddharth Kara. Sex trafficking. Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. New York, 2009. Columbia University Press, 148.

[40] OSCE. (2004). Raport në Këshillin e Përhershëm Ambasadori Osmo Lipponen, Kryetar i Prezencës, p. 12. <http://www.osce.org/sq/albania/38064?download=true> accessed 16 September 2020.

[41] Inspektoriati i Punës. Analizë Statistikore e Treguesve të Inspektimit, 2019, pp. 7-8 <Analizë Statistikore e Treguesve të Inspektimit> Accessed 24 September 2020.

[42] http://www.instat.gov.al/en/themes/industry-trade-and-services/business-register/publication/2020/press-release-business-register-2019/ accessed 24 September 2020.

[43] IOM. (2016). Vlerësim për mbrojtjen e të drejtave të punëtorëve migrantë në Shqipëri. Albania, p. 33.

[44] Ibid, p. 39.

[45] US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, p. 69 <https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[46] US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, p. 69 <https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[47] US Department of State. (2016). Trafficking in Persons Report. <https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[48] US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, p. 69 <https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[49] US Department of State, Trafficking in Person. Country Narratives, 2015 < https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/245365.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[50] US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, p. 69 <https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

[51] US Department of State. (2017). Trafficking in Person. Country Narratives. <https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271341.pdf> accessed 16 September 2020.

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