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Experts from 13 countries meet at the HESTIA Project conference

Ievietots: 24.11.2016

On 14 – 15 November, 2016 Riga hosted an international conference “Exploitative Sham Marriages: Exploring the Links between Trafficking in Human Beings and Sham Marriages” where findings and best practise acquired during the implementation of the HESTIA Project “Preventing human trafficking and sham marriages: A multidisciplinary solution” were presented and shared. In total 60 experts representing various professional anti-trafficking areas from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, the Slovak Republic, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Norway and the Council of the Baltic Sea States participated.

“A lot of discussions are taking place on issues related to trafficking in human beings, about trauma and negative consequences for victims and society resulting from this criminal offence, as well as profits which traffickers, recruiters and users gain and enormous daily counter-trafficking work implemented to reduce trafficking in human beings. Statistical data confirms that trafficking in human beings does not reduce, a number of victims increase every year. New forms of exploitation has been identified which are very complicated to recognize and identify. Exploitative sham marriages is one of such forms of trafficking in human beings. It is no more a new phenomenon, but it is a phenomenon which is named by the team of the HESTIA Project. Organizers of the conference have prepared a comprehensive Agenda of the conference which is based on the first research done in the European Union about trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sham marriages as well as practise of public institutions and non-governmental organizations to identify such cases and victims of exploitation” highlighted Mr Rihards Kozlovskis, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia in his conference opening speech. “Our presence at this conference is an acknowledgement for our joint goal – to address trafficking in human beings, convict perpetrators, identify and assist victims of trafficking in human beings.”

During the opening of the conference Mr Kozlovskis presented the award “Goda raksts” of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia to Ms Vija Buša, Advisor of the Planning Group of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, a former Advisor at the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in Ireland for her exceptional commitment to provide interests and needs of Latvian citizens who had become victims of trafficking in human beings in Ireland, provision of efficient inter-institutional cooperation and making topical an issue of sham marriages which had provided grounds for implementation of the HESTIA Project.

A Manager of the HESTIA Project, National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Ms Lāsma Stabiņa informed that findings from the HESTIA Project will be presented at the meeting of the Informal EU Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREMs) and the meeting of Working Party on General Matters, including Evaluations (GENVAL) which will be held in Brussels, Belgium. L.Stabiņa highlighted: “We are planning to approach the EU Member States, the Council and the Commission that strong political will and commitment are needed to address the phenomenon of exploitative sham marriages at the whole European Union. Exploitative sham marriages is a challenge of the present time which cannot be ignored. Targeted decisions and actions should be taken to criminalize exploitative sham marriages as a form of trafficking in human beings, strengthen institutional capacity and resources to recognize such cases, provide help, assistance and measures of protection to victims, bring to trial those who benefit from the exploitation of individuals and stop flourishing of this criminal business and gaining of illegal profits.”

Project deliverables:

Research report: EXPLOITATIVE SHAM MARRIAGES: EXPLORING THE LINKS BETWEEN HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND SHAM MARRIAGES IN ESTONIA, IRELAND, LATVIA, LITHUANIA AND SLOVAKIA

Methodical material: Reduction of Exploitative Sham Marriages: Training for Trainers Training

*The Project is coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior (Latvia). Project partners: NGO "Shelter ‘Safe House’" (Latvia), NGO "Living for Tomorrow" (Estonia); NGO "Caritas Lithuania" (Lithuania); Immigrant Council of Ireland (Ireland); Ministry of the Interior of Slovak Republic (Slovakia); European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control of the United Nations (HEUNI) (Finland). Associated Project partners: The State Police (Latvia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Latvia), Department of Justice and Equality (Ireland).

The "Preventing human trafficking and sham marriages: A multidisciplinary solution" (HESTIA) project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Grant Agreement No. HOME/2013/ISEC/AG/THB/4000005845. The implementation of the HESTIA project was started on 1 January 2015 and will continue until 31 December 2016. #HESTIA_THB https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/

Information prepared by: Rasa Saliņa, Public Relations Specialist of the HESTIA project, e-mail: rasa.salina@gmail.com