The EU Network of National Rapporteurs and Equivalent Mechanisms against Trafficking in Human Beings (NREM) met today by videoconference, in the context of the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union. The Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs gave an opening speech.
The main topic was the implementation of the 2011 Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims as it has recently been noted that Member States are experiencing certain difficulties in full and effective implementation of the Directive. It has become apparent that some of its provisions have not kept pace with the rapidly changing trends in trafficking in human beings. The existing Directive will thus be evaluated in the context of the new EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings 2021–2025 and revised based on the outcome of the evaluation.
Minister Hojs noted that the Directive undoubtedly provides for an integrated approach to combating trafficking in human beings, with all four areas of action – prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership – being represented equally. However, the legislation must reflect social, economic, technological and political changes and evolve on an ongoing basis. This is why Slovenia supports a study for the evaluation of the existing Directive as envisaged in the new EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings 2021–2025. Minister Hojs stressed that it is important to be aware that trafficking in human beings cannot be prevented by simply adopting new legislation. Consistent enforcement and implementation of legislation is required. And, if we wish to identify gaps in national policies against human trafficking, effective monitoring of the implementation of anti-trafficking legislation and measures must also be in place.
In the event’s afternoon programme, the National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Tina Princes Damjanovič, chaired a joint meeting of the NREM network and the Network of National Anti-Trafficking Coordinators of South-East Europe (NATC SEE). The main topic of the meeting was the establishment of effective international cooperation and networking with countries of origin and transit, as well as with international and regional partners. For many years, the Republic of Slovenia has been paying special attention to the Western Balkans region, which is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The National Coordinator presented the history and activities of the informal network NATC SEE, which was established in 2010 on Slovenia’s initiative and makes an important contribution to strengthening regional cooperation in the fight against trafficking in human beings. The information campaign was also presented, focusing on the issue of impunity for perpetrators of trafficking in human beings, which the members of the NATC SEE network carried out in the framework of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council on the occasion of this year’s European Day for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. At the joint meeting, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) presented a non-paper on combating trafficking in human beings in the Western Balkans region, which was prepared through the NATC SEE network under the Slovenian Presidency.
The National Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Tina Princes Damjanovič, also presented the priority activities implemented in Slovenia in accordance with the Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings 2021–2022. She highlighted in particular the measures for systematic and long-term awareness-raising among children and youth, in Slovenian primary and secondary schools, respectively. She also stressed the importance of intensified efforts by law enforcement to identify trafficking for forced labour as one of the many forms of trafficking in human beings and addressed the preparation of guidelines for labour inspectors and underlined closer cooperation with the private sector.