Kyiv, 5 October 2018
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, presented its new publication aimed to foster the prosecution of human trafficking crimes in Ukraine.
The IOM Ukraine Counter Trafficking Programme, launched in 1998, has provided comprehensive assistance to almost 15,000 victims of trafficking as of today through cooperation with government agencies and civil society organizations. While there is an impressive progress in the efforts of the Government of Ukraine to consolidate its counter-trafficking efforts, there are also some systemic challenges that remain to be addressed. In the first six month of 2018, the National Police of Ukraine registered 186 cases of trafficking. However, the number of respective court verdicts issued over the same period was 19.
“IOM commends the achievements of the frontline actors – social services, NGOs, criminal justice officers working both on national and on local levels – to identify, refer and assist victims of human trafficking and prosecute the crime,” said IOM Ukraine’s Chief of Mission, Dr. Thomas Lothar Weiss. “IOM also stands ready to further provide comprehensive capacity building support to the criminal justice chain in Ukraine, including the police, investigators, prosecutors, and the judiciary system.”
Recognizing the daunting challenge in prosecution of the human trafficking crimes, IOM involved leading judicial experts to conduct Analysis of Judicial Practice on the Application of Ukrainian Legislation on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. The research and the publication were made possible with funding from Global Affairs Canada and The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the presentation, Prof. Lubomyr Nykyforiak, judge of Donetsk Appeal Court, and Ms. Nadia Stefaniv, judge of Supreme Court of Ukraine stressed that the greatest difficulties during the trial arise due to a lack of understanding of the correct qualification of criminal acts related to trafficking in human beings. Common challenges are also related to the development of an effective evidence base for a substantiated and motivated verdict. According to the Ukrainian legislation, for the criminalization of trafficking in human beings an exploitative purpose should be inherent. Article 149 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine does not require that an exploitation is achieved. It is enough that the perpetrator realizes this goal and acts accordingly.
The purpose of the new IOM publication is to improve the practice of litigation in human trafficking cases and to deepen the understanding of the specific nature of this grave crime, which is accompanied by gross violation of human rights, and requires the criminal justice system not only to punish the perpetrators, but also to restore the rights of victims.
“We believe that the analysis conducted with IOM’s support will be instrumental to the judges for the hearing of criminal proceedings, prosecution of traffickers and protection of victims of trafficking,” underlined Dr. Weiss.