Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, CBSS CSO Chair Juris Bone introduced priorities of the Latvian Presidency 2018 – 2019: Integrity and Societal Security, Dialogue and Responsibility.
A representative of the Ministry of the Interior of Latvia, National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Lasma Stabina informed about the priority “Integrity and Societal Security” implementation of which is under the competence of the Ministry of the Interior and its subordinate institutions.
Based on the positive results, achieved by previous CBSS presidencies, and in order to advance this process, the Latvian Presidency focuses on the following issues:
• Enhancing cooperation in civil protection area to strengthen resilience in the region against major emergencies and disasters.
• Fighting against trafficking in human beings to prevent and mitigate consequences of this severe crime.
• Combating organised crime and strengthening border management.
In capacity of the Chair of the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB) L.Stabiņa provided detailed overview of planned activities under the Latvian CBSS Presidency to address human trafficking: new international project against Human Trafficking – Paving the Way for a Harmonized Operational Framework in the Baltic Sea Region (HOF BSR) is launched which aims at development of a Transnational Referral Mechanism for professionals working in the Baltic Sea Region and beyond to provide them with the right tools in order to successfully assist victims, as well as to strengthen and expand counter trafficking cooperation networks by establishing direct contacts with the main countries of origin for victims of human trafficking – Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. Further steps are necessary to increase an understanding of victims’ rights, to strengthen investigation and prosecution, and effective handling of trafficking cases by the judiciary therefore a conference “Human trafficking a crime with too few convictions and too many victims” will be organized in the framework of the Latvian CBSS Presidency on 21 -22 February 2019 in Riga, Latvia. Call for papers for PhD students and researchers for the conference is launched and prospective authors are kindly encouraged through the submissions of their papers to contribute to and help shape the conference. Observer States of the CBSS will be invited to take part in the conference and share their best practice on prosecution of human trafficking cases and victim’s rights in legal proceedings.
L.Stabiņa highlighted that in 2013 – 2015 around 5000 victims of human trafficking have been formally identified in the Baltic Sea region alone. 5000 is of course alarming number, but what is worrying even more that a lot more are never identified, never receive assistance and they are not even aware of being victims of a crime.
The Chair of the Baltic Region Heritage Committee (BRHC) Baiba Mūrniece presented information about the work of BRHC under the presidency priority “Dialogue”.
The Chair of the Expert Group Sustainable Development (EGSD) Ugis Zanders and the Chair of the Re-Generation 2030 Manifesto Group Zane Skuja updated participants about the work of the EGSD and Baltic 2030 as well as about the working group representing teenagers and young adults in the field of the Latvian presidency priority “Responsibility”.
CBSS Senior Adviser and Head of the Unit for Children at Risk (CAR) Turid Heiberg reported on implemented projects with international impact related to ensuring child-friendly justice and care. The CBSS PROMISE project is leading the European Barnahus movement and has supported many thousands of children in newly established Barnahus in the region and beyond.