From May 22-26, 2023, IJM Romania hosted a conference with more than 120 lawmakers from across Europe titled: “Enhancing Cross-Border Collaboration to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings.” Police officers, prosecutors, national referral coordinators, embassy representatives and international experts from primary source and destination countries in Europe – specifically Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, UK, Germany and the Netherlands – participated in the event.
“This conference is unique in that there are high-level tactical and operational experts who will learn, share and develop a cross-border network to establish frameworks with which to work,” said Shawn Kohl, IJM’s European Anti-Trafficking program director. “Human trafficking is increasing around the world and our detection, prosecution and victim-centered support needs to keep pace.”
The week featured some 45 speakers and more than 25 working groups which focused on strengthening the collaboration and coordination among criminal justice systems in Europe. The interactions and dialogue generated by the conference between law enforcement representatives from across Europe lead to valuable insights that will help the fight against human trafficking in Europe and offer better protection and assistance for victims and survivors.
The conference resulted in an agreement to form two Joint Investigations Teams (JITS) with operational follow-up needed at Europol. Additionally, IJM Romania noted that key relationships were built, and significant groundwork was laid for next steps in engagement with key countries including Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary.
IJM Romania received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the guests, both speakers and participants at the conference – they appreciated the high level of professionalism IJM showed in organizing the event, the quality of the speakers and the topics selected for discussions and presentations; most of all, they appreciated the opportunity to meet in-person to collaborate on these important issues.