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(Română) Authorities could do more to end impunity for those guilty of trafficking in persons in Moldova, a study concludes

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The Analytical Study on the investigation and trial of cases of trafficking in persons and related offences, based on a thorough analysis of 380 criminal cases examined and tried between 2006 and 2010, finds that the charges of trafficking in persons were very often reclassified into pimping, forced labour or organization of begging, which allowed perpetrators to avoid lengthy prison terms or even to scrape by with just a fine. The study notes that confusion persists among some law-enforcement agencies about the differences between trafficking and associated offences. It also identifies a number of problems that hindered progress in combating the phenomenon: as Moldova remains a country of origin for trafficking it was difficult to prove that exploitation had taken place as it often happens abroad; prosecutors did not always pursue and insist on trafficking charges against presumed perpetrators; legal provisions were not fully observed; in many cases court hearings were repeatedly delayed, and proceedings were too lengthy, thus discouraging some participants and making them lose hope in justice, and victims’ rights were not sufficiently protected. An insignificant number of victims was provided with legal assistance throughout the criminal proceedings and very few received compensation for the damages caused by the crime. Read more…

“This Study is unprecedented in Moldova,” said Antonio Polosa, Chief of IOM Mission to Moldova. “Its findings and recommendations are to serve the criminal justice system of Moldova in enhancing the national response to trafficking, specifically: to improve the classification of trafficking cases, enhance investigation and trial procedures, improve the protection of victims’ rights and ensure wider access to legal remedies for victims, foster international cooperation, and prevent corruption.”

Furthermore, the Study suggests focusing on prevention, especially among the most vulnerable and in accordance with the victim profile in the Study (unemployed women from rural areas aged 23-30). In addition, the authors underscore that Moldova should accede to and align its practices with the European Convention on the Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes, as well as to establish a compensation mechanism for damages endured by the victims of trafficking in persons.

Even before the publication of the Study, its findings were taken into account in counter-trafficking work, including when designing training modules for law enforcement and drafting amendments to the legislation in the field. Furthermore, based on the results of the Study, the IOM developed a Practical Guide for investigation of crimes of trafficking in persons, for investigators and prosecutors, which contains detailed instructions on how to properly conduct an investigation and prosecute trafficking cases, avoiding errors identified in the Study.

The Study was presented at the Forum “Fostering cooperation between Government and Civil Society in the fight against trafficking in persons in Moldova. Best practices in the protection of victim’s rights, preventing corruption and ending impunity”, held on 27-28 June 2013 in Chisinau. It gathered around 100 participants from law enforcement agencies, social protection authorities, NGOs and the media from Moldova active in the counter-trafficking field as well as domestic and international experts. The event wrapped up the “Preventing Corruption and Impunity in the Fight against Trafficking by Empowering the Media and Fostering Cooperation between Civil Society and Law Enforcement Agencies 2010-2013” Project implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the United States Department of State.