Wednesday, July 16, 2008

OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine fosters local police, NGO co-operation on anti-trafficking measures

KHMELNYTSKY, Ukraine, 16 July 2008 - The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine has launched a series of training courses for local precinct police inspectors on combating human trafficking, with the first session starting in Khmelnytsky in western Ukraine today.

The series of 72 training and networking meetings for up to 1,800 police officers will take place in 12 regions of Ukraine until October. The meetings will provide training opportunities for local level officers and facilitate their co-operation with anti-trafficking non-governmental organizations to prevent trafficking as well as to identify and refer trafficked persons.

"Through this co-operative effort with the Interior Ministry, the OSCE is assisting Ukraine to fulfil its commitments as reflected in the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings," said Ambassador Lubomir Kopaj, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.

The course targets precinct police inspectors, who work to prevent crime in local communities through raising public awareness, assisting with the criminal investigations and helping people whose rights have been infringed. Much of their work is carried out in close contact with public authorities and civil society groups.

"The precinct police inspectors' service is ideally positioned to play a key role within the national referral mechanism for victims of trafficking - they work in local communities and are most likely to come in contact with potential and possible victims of trafficking," added Kopaj.

"The co-operation between anti-trafficking NGOs and community-level police will help 'rank and file' precinct police officers understand the problem and strengthen their outreach work. We have developed a specialized training programme for this branch of the Ukrainian police force in order to ensure their inclusion in the national anti-trafficking effort."

During the first stage of the project, which is implemented in partnership with the Interior Ministry, the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine also conducted one-day training courses for the heads of regional and district Precinct Police Inspectors Services.

The training sessions are funded by the Danish Foreign Ministry as part of the Danish Programme Against Human Trafficking in Eastern and South Eastern Europe.

Working with law enforcement has been one of the more active areas of the OSCE's anti-trafficking efforts in Ukraine this year. During interviews with several Ukrainian NGOs that carry out victim reintegration programs, there was an expressed concern about the relationship between law enforcement and victims. Although victim identification by law enforcement is on the rise and cooperation between NGOs, IOs, and law enforcement is improving under programs such as these, there is still an overwhelming mistrust for law enforcement by victims. At least three of the NGOs interviewed will be taking part in the OSCE project.

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