The U.S. Embassy has nominated Lāsma Stabiņa as Latvia’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Hero for her exceptional commitment to preventing human trafficking. Ms. Stabiņa’s efforts to attract international funding for trafficking prevention activities and her public-private partnership promotion efforts contributed enormously to preventing human trafficking in Latvia. Today, Ambassador Nancy Bikoff Pettit is awarding Ms. Stabiņa a certificate of recognition as the Embassy’s 2016 TIP Hero.
Vucāne A. Fiktīva laulība cilvēktirdzniecības kontekstā: terminoloģijas problēmas (Marriage of Convenience in the Context of Human Trafficking: Terminology Issues). Jurista Vārds, No. 45 (897), 17 November 2015, p. 35.-38.
Mg. Astrīda Vucāne, PhD student at Ventspils University College/Liepāja University, Scientific Secretary at the Terminology Commission of the Latvian Academy of Sciences
A new global trend in human trafficking – trafficking in human beings for the purpose of forced criminality
On 11-12 April of this year Vienna, Austria, hosted the 16th high level Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference “Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of Forced Criminality” of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), during which discussions were held on the currently topical form of human trafficking – trafficking in human beings for the purpose of forced criminality.
- The main countries of origin of victims of sham marriages are the eastern member states of the EU – Latvia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, the female citizens of which are willingly or fraudulently taken to western states to enter into sham marriages with citizens of third countries.
- A human trafficking victim is deprived of freedom, is sexually abused by being subjected to violent and degrading treatment and sometimes even being forced to give birth to a child, thus completely ensuring the third country citizen with the opportunity to stay within the EU. The respective person is employed against her own will, whereas the documents are used to obtain credit and loans.
- The Garda Síochána (the national police service of Ireland) is currently assessing 1700 marriages, including those between Latvian and third country citizens, which have been concluded over the past two years.
- The overall number of sham marriages has decreased. This has been facilitated by public awareness campaigns and activities in Latvia, as well as the regulatory framework that prescribes criminal liability for ensuring a third country national with a possibility to legally acquire the right to stay in Latvia, another member state of the EU, member state of the European Economic Area or in the Swiss Confederation in bad faith.
- The fight against sham marriages has been expanded to a level of cooperation between several states. The project “Preventing Human Trafficking and Sham Marriages: A Multidisciplinary Solution” (HESTIA) has been started.
On 29 February 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden a workshop on policy implications on future trends in trafficking was organised within the framework of the international project TRACE “TRafficking as A Criminal Enterprise”, and during it a presentation on sham marriages as a new form of human trafficking was given by the leading researcher of the international project “Preventing Human Trafficking and Sham Marriages: A Multidisciplinary Solution” (HESTIA), which is realised under the leadership of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia, Ms Minna Viuhko from the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) in Finland.
It is stated in Europol’s 2015 Situation Report on trafficking in human beings in the EU that the current migration crisis will leave a significant impact on human trafficking. The report foresees that the volumes and trends of human trafficking in relation to sexual and labour exploitation will increase in the near future. It is also expected that there will be an increase in human trafficking with the purpose to conclude sham marriages in order to meet the demand for attempts of acquiring legal rights to reside within the EU.
A support project for prevention of human trafficking, implemented for two and a half years, comes to an end
The project “Support Programme of the Society “Shelter “Safe House”” Operation for Prevention of Human Trafficking in Latviaˮ, which was implemented since July 2013, comes to an end in December. The purpose of this project was to increase the role of the society in implementation of human trafficking prevention activities on the national level, by increasing the institutional capacity of the society and ensuring support activities for its operation. As the target group the project involved non-governmental organizations, representatives of public administration and local authorities who are dealing with human trafficking issues, members, workers and volunteers of “Shelter “Safe House””, as well as inhabitants of Latvia.
On October 19, this year, an informative educational event was organized for the society cooperation partners and media in order to inform the participants on the achievements of "Shelter "Safe House"" in preventing the human trafficking, and to give participants a chance to take an interactive class – a master class on the issue of human trafficking. Among the active participants more than 30 various public institutions (including schools), non-governmental organizations, embassies and media representatives were involved.
On 7-8 October 2015 the Ministry of the Interior hosted the Nordic-Baltic Network of Policewomen conference “Gendered Violence – Nordic-Baltic Dialogue” in Riga, and it was with the participation of police officers and experts of the field from Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, and Latvia. The conference touched upon challenges in areas such as violence in close relationships, hate crimes, prevention and combatting of human trafficking, violations of human rights, and crimes of sexual violence in countries affected by military conflicts and natural disasters.
Sham marriages become more and more popular in Europe; refugees may also become victims of human trafficking
Latvian legislation prescribes that a person shall be held criminally liable for deliberately carrying out actions that ensure third-country nationals with legal possibilities to acquire the right to stay in a EU member state. Sham marriages have proven to be the best way to do so. In order to find out how this devastating phenomenon is being fought against in the conditions of increasing migration, “Apollo” talked to Lāsma Stabiņa, National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator (Ministry of the Interior) and Manager of the HESTIA* project.