This report assesses current referral practices to assist and protect the rights of trafficked persons in Moldova. It seeks to outline the current response by multiple governmental and non governmental organizations in Moldova to the problems experienced by victims of human trafficking, and the extent to which those organizations interact for the benefit of victims. The data collection exercise has focused on the major stakeholders in Moldova actively responding to human trafficking. The report authors hope that this assessment of the practices of major stakeholders will not only encourage all the detailed parties to improve their interaction, but also to identify, reach out and work with other parties who can identify and assist victims.
This assessment outlines the key findings, identifies gaps and constraints in current responses to human trafficking in the Republic of Moldova and points out recommendations to improve the current practices.
The report comprises seven chapters as follows:
The assessment is based on interviews conducted in Chisinau, Calarasi and Balti, as well as observation, policy documents, legislation, NGO reports and suggestions from participants in a round-table discussion organized by UNODC in partnership with the Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child and IOM in December 2006.
II. Initial Stages of the National Referral System
The need to deliver long-term reintegration services at the local level in light of increasing numbers of beneficiaries prompted IOM in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child to establish the National Referral System (“NRS”) in five pilot rayons: Balti, Calarasi, Cahul, Edineti and Causeni. This attempt, to gradually phase out reintegration services while at the same time making reintegration efforts more sustainable, was welcomed by new as well as long-standing actors. NRS development could considerably contribute to enhancing victim’s access to a wider range of services and a longer monitoring period. In this respect, collaboration among relevant service providers remains crucial to assisting victims of trafficking as well as to the success of any national referral system.
The report notes that despite efforts made among many service providers in Moldova, identification of potential and presumed victims of trafficking remains to be a challenge.
Of note is, that not all service providers are aware that presumed victims, identified through circumstantial indicators, are also entitled to a minimum package of assistance and not all identified victims of trafficking in human beings get access to assistance. This depends on which agency a victim was identified by and may be explained by the fact that the notion of identification has not been broadly conceptualized in Moldova.
The report points out to the importance of victim identification and recommends expanding the range of specialists able to perform primary identification of trafficking victims, as well as developing methods to assist possible identifiers in referring victims to specialist service providers.
Identification is essential to effectively combat trafficking in persons, resulting in the rescue of greater numbers of victims, more criminal investigations and prosecutions, and the exposure of both trafficking practices and those who undertake them. As such, it is essential that a strategy for a coordinated referral system anticipates and makes allowance for increases in the number of victims identified.
IV. Reintegration and Rehabilitation
Apparently the number of persons referred for assistance continues to rise, creating difficulties in maintaining systematic follow-up on cases after the crisis intervention phase. The increasing demand also makes the existing limited geographic distribution of services more acute, especially for medical, psychological and other professional services in rural areas. Accordingly, the successful expansion of the NRS and the assumption of responsibility for forms of victim support by a diverse number of stakeholders, including law enforcement and the judiciary, becomes even more crucial.
However, despite obvious advancement with respect to coordination among stakeholders, improved information sharing and referrals, it appears that the NRS, where it has been introduced, is not yet functioning as envisioned. There is still a need for improved knowledge and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each State agency, NGO and other relevant institutions at the local level.
V. Incorporating Medical Services and Law Enforcement into the NRS
Law enforcement personnel have not been formally brought into the NRS to date. However, cooperation does exist between these sectors and NRS actors on a consistent basis. As regards medical services, it appears, although medical professionals have been formally included in each rayon, that at present, not all of the multidisciplinary teams have active medical partners. In part because of this and also because victims are often not aware that they have such a right1 , or because services that are theoretically guaranteed as free of charge, are in practice offered for a “fee”, today many victims remain without medical benefits. Some medical services are not available in rural areas, such as e.g. long-term psychological services do not extend outside of the city. In addition, there is a poor understanding among the service providers of both the importance of psychological counselling to victims of trauma as well as what the provision of psychological services actually entails.
At present each organization in the field maintains its own internal policy for monitoring victims’ rehabilitation efforts after the point of crisis intervention.
The development of standard operating procedures will be key for future internal monitoring efforts. Linked to normative frameworks, they should also be grounded in a human rights framework.
VII. Data Collection and Information Management
There are currently no common criteria for data collection on trafficking victims in Moldova. Organizations continue to collect information using their own diverse methodologies. Not all service providers distinguish clearly between potential and actual victims, or the types of exploitation. Use of standardized criteria will facilitate the gathering of quantitative and qualitative data on trafficking victims nationwide, contributing to development of effective and efficient policies to prevent and combat trafficking. Common criteria would also advance the capacity for information sharing among service providers.
An extremely sensitive issue concerns data protection; any failure to protect personal data may pose serious treat to the life, health and safety of the trafficked person.
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