Croatia can be a leader in the fight against human trafficking, labor and sexual exploitation of people in the region

Zagreb, 5 November 2013 – attracting great interest from the media, the Conference on human trafficking labor and sexual exploitation was held today, organized by the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS) and the University of New Haven in the United States. The conference dealt with topics on human trafficking and sexual exploitation, current issues and problems related to investigations, arrests and convictions, new methods aimed at addressing these problems, including the state of the art approaches to surveillance and monitoring, intelligence analysis and mapping, and the use of DNA in the fight against human trafficking.

The conference brought together a wide range of participants, including representatives of the Croatian Government, the Ministry of the Interior, the Croatian State Attorney’s Office, the Bureau for Combating of Corruption and Organized Crime with the Ministry of the Interior, delegates from the embassies of the USA, Kosovo and Macedonia and the representatives of the City of Zagreb, organizations working on the prevention and elimination of trafficking in women, the International Organization for Migration, the Centre for Education, Counselling and Research, representatives of the Croatian Academy of Legal Sciences, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and of Genos, the world’s leading company in the field of DNA research, in addition to other attendees.

The conference was opened by Prof. Dragan Primorac, Ph.D., one of the founders of the ISABS, who presented the results of the Annual Trafficking in Persons Report for 2013 from the U.S. State Department, according to which the Republic of Croatia is a “destination, source and transit country for men, women and children who have fallen victim to trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced labour.”

The conference was attended by one of the most progressive and professional lecturers in this field, Christopher Asplen (a former assistant U.S. attorney, the Executive Director of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence (1997-2000), and the Head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (2000-2006). Asplen elaborated for the participants the application of “Rapid DNA” technology, as one of the most current approaches to anti-trafficking, which relies on creation of DNA databases, and relayed his experiences in working in over 40 countries worldwide.

One of the speakers at the conference was also Prof. Timothy Palmbach, Ph.D., the Director of the Forensic Science Program at the University of New Haven and the perennial Director of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory, who conveyed his experiences in work on combating human trafficking. He presented developments in forensic science and their application, pointing out that due to its position, the Republic of Croatia has a good opportunity to become the leading force in interrupting human trafficking routes in the region as it stands on border between the EU and South Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Prof. Davor Derenčinović, Ph.D., the Secretary General of the Croatian Academy of Legal Sciences, held a lecture on the topic titled Human Trafficking as a Serious Violation of Human Rights.

As the conference was brought to its close, the concluding thoughts revealed that ISABS, the Croatian Academy of Legal Sciences and the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, were ready to provide full support to the establishment of the institution of the National Rapporteur, which the Republic of Croatia is obliged to do in accordance with the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, which was indicated in the TIP (Trafficking in Persons Report) for 2012. Improving the system for the prevention of human trafficking through a scientific approach and strengthening of institutional capacities and legal frameworks would go far in meeting the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s GRETA (Group of experts on action against trafficking in human beings).

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