Victims of gender based violence in Kosovo, including victims of human trafficking, will soon have additional recourse for aid thanks to an agreement signed today by the United Nations and local postal authorities to establish a toll-free ‘HelpLine’ in the UN-administered province.
The HelpLine, set up by The Victims’ Advocacy and Assistance Unit (VAAU) of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Department of Justice and the Post and Telecommunication of Kosovo (PTK), will ensure access to justice for victims of crime by offering them the opportunity to receive help from law enforcement authorities.
It will also facilitate victims’ access to medical, legal and psychological services as well as other forms of support available in Kosovo through VAAU and other providers.
Fulfilling its core mandate to ‘institutionalize the rights of victims of crimes’ VAAU has been particularly active in combating human trafficking from both legal and humanitarian perspectives. Apart from working with policy makers and legislative bodies, the Unit has built up a network of Victims’ Advocates across Kosovo who support victims in their involvement with the justice system.
Besides legal advice, VAAU provides victims with other forms of assistance including interpretation, psychological, medical, shelter, training and educational assistance. Since its creation in 2002, the Unit has assisted over 1,430 victims of crime, mainly victims of domestic violence, sexual offences and human trafficking.
Last month UNMIK helped in the prosecution of three Albanian citizens, who were jailed for up to 12 years for luring young women to Kosovo with false promises of legitimate work only to try to force them into prostitution.
The UN has run the province since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops amid grave human rights abuses in fighting between majority Albanians and Serbs in 1999.