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UN unveils more aggressive plan to fight human trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

UN unveils more aggressive plan to fight human trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) has introduced a more aggressive approach to dealing with that country's problems in human trafficking and prostitution as well as countering the increased ability of traffickers to escape detection.

The aim of the Special Trafficking Operations Programme (STOP) will be to fight the problem more effectively while increasing public awareness and help, Celhia de Lavarene, UNMIBH's Advisor on Gender Policy, said yesterday at a press conference in Sarajevo, where the new project was unveiled.

STOP will involve the creation of special police units in each region of the country to work in concert with the UN mission and the country's Justice, Health and Finance Ministries. UNMIBH will also closely monitor allegations of local police involvement, and conduct any internal investigations if allegations are made against UN civilian or police personnel.

So far, UNMIBH has identified 260 nightclubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina suspected of being involved in prostitution and more than 200 raids on such businesses haven taken place since the beginning of March. Interviews with women found in these premises have revealed that about a quarter of them claim to have been victims of trafficking. Over 80 per cent of the victims were from the Republic of Moldova and Romania, with 10 per cent of them minors.

UNMIBH has pressed local authorities to prosecute those who were directly involved in trafficking. Since early 2000, owners of seven nightclubs have been convicted of promoting prostitution, false imprisonment and other offences and sentenced to between 4 to 30 months in prison.