IOM trains Ukrainian law enforcers in conflict-related threats of human trafficking

22 November 2016

In November in Odesa, IOM conducted three trainings for police officers, investigators, prosecutors, judges and border guards as well as representatives of NGOs and social services from nine oblasts bordering or located close to the Donbas conflict area (Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Sumy, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Chernihiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolayiv). Also, the representatives of Civil-Military Cooperation of Arm Force of Ukraine participated in the trainings looking for the ways of further cooperation on victims identifications and referrals. In total 68 law enforcers were trained by IOM this month. The activities were funded by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons of the United States Department of State.

Training participants discussed current trends in countering modern slavery, mechanisms of detection and documentation of trafficking-related crimes, police cooperation with investigators and prosecutors, victim assistance and functioning of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). Best practices of pre-court and court investigation of trafficking and cooperation among NRM partners were presented by a police officers, investigators, NGOs and social workers, as well as representatives of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

From January to September 2016, IOM Ukraine has identified and provided assistance to 777 victims of trafficking, who were exploited mainly in Russia, as well as in Poland and internally in Ukraine. 60% of victims assisted by IOM in 2016 are men, force labour stands for 93% of identified cases. Over nine months of 2016, the Counter-Trafficking Department of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine filed 86 cases for human trafficking.

As Ukraine continues to cope with mass displacement from the Donbas region and Crimea, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are targeted by unscrupulous intermediaries who offer brokerage services for emigration and receiving refugee status abroad. 19 cases of trafficking or attempted trafficking of IDPs have been recorded by IOM in 2015-16, some of them involving several victims. The situation in the non-government-controlled territory and along the contact line remains of high concern.

In order to enhance the access of victims of trafficking to justice, IOM provides comprehensive capacity building services to the criminal justice chain in Ukraine, including the police, investigators, prosecutors, and the judiciary system as such. This includes thematic trainings, technical assistance, networking with countries of transit and destination, capacity building in the sphere of mutual legal assistance, resource management, provision of equipment, strengthening victim/witness protection mechanisms and other. IOM also partners with the State Migration Service and State Border Guard Service of Ukraine to enhance the identification of potential trafficking victims, both Ukrainian and foreign, at the country’s borders and to improve the cooperation with specialized police units.