The CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB) is a dedicated expert group that works towards building a region where society is aware of human trafficking risk factors, perpetrators are vigorously pursued and prosecuted, and victims are adequately assisted. The goal of the Task Force is to strengthen and improve current anti-trafficking policies and preventive and protective work in the Baltic Sea Region.
The Task Force has operated since 2006 when the Heads of Government decided to integrate the work of the Nordic Baltic Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings into the CBSS framework.
The TF-THB is composed of representatives from the CBSS Member States and the European Commission. It holds regular expert sessions and is supported by the TF-THB Unit at the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm. The group consolidates expertise from the national level with the international level, and the cooperation ranges from practical exchange on preventing, identifying, and countering human trafficking for all forms of exploitation to collaboration on direct anti-trafficking projects.
The chair of the TFTHB rotates among the Member States on an annual basis following the CBSS Presidency (from July 1 to June 30). The current Chair is Germany.
The chair sets priorities for the work of the Task Force during its Presidency. TF-THB unit at the CBSS Secretariat provides secretarial and professional support to the Task Force and ensures the continuity of the work of the Task Force by developing annual work plans, making proposals and presenting initiatives to the Task Force, developing and implementing transnational projects, presenting the Task Force at relevant events and in international/regional networks, and disseminating progress and results of the Task Force’s work.
The strength of the TF-THB is the composition of the group and the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to emerging human trafficking-related challenges and new developments in the region and beyond, such as the Russian war in Ukraine.
The Task Force aims to strengthen, build upon and improve current anti-trafficking policies, preventive and protective efforts in the Baltic Sea Region through a coherent and multidisciplinary approach. The main objectives of the Task Force are:
- To assess and respond to new trends in the trafficking in human beings and act upon these trends, based on information gathered by experts in the Member States, and regional and international cooperation partners.
- Facilitate and promote co-ordination, exchange of knowledge, results and best practices between existing local, regional, national and international efforts, to help ensure that a multi-dimensional and cross-sectoral approach is applied in and between countries in the Baltic Sea region, and to stimulate and propose additional efforts.
- Share lessons learned and best practices with other regional organisations, supplementing their work and policies against trafficking in human beings.
- Make use of the experiences of existing networks, expertise and structures in the region; make the work more efficient and complementary by inviting representatives of other initiatives in the region (including CBSS expert groups international organisations and NGOs.)
- Implement hands-on projects and activities in order to prevent human trafficking, involve new actors and enhance the capacity and train relevant actors to better assist and identify victims of all forms of human trafficking in the Baltic Sea region.
The Strategic Plan of the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings has outlined four strategic objectives for the Task Force for the period of 2020-2025:
- Maintaining a regional information and resource centre.
- Enhancing policy coherence on anti-trafficking in the context of migration.
- Strengthening international cooperation and strategic partnerships.
- Providing technical assistance on migration management and anti-trafficking.
The ongoing activities of the TF-THB have focused on the following topics:
TF-THB has two ongoing projects on labour exploitation:
- CAPE (Competence building, Assistance provision and Prosecution of labour exploitation cases in the Baltic Sea Region; 2019-2022) has focused on deepening the knowledge about trafficking for labour exploitation in Sweden and the Baltic Sea Region and deepening the capacity of national authorities to counteract trafficking for labour exploitation by stimulating dialogue and foster experience and know–how exchange between the authorities in Sweden and other EU member states.
- CAPE II (Strengthening competence, assistance, and prosecution of Forced Labour in Sweden II; 2021-2023) aims to inform potential labour migrants arriving in Sweden, or planning to arrive, about the risks of THB for forced labour and labour exploitation. The overarching aim is to raise awareness, primarily among labour migrants, and secondly among the public on issues of THB taking place in the Swedish labour market.
Baltic Sea Region Transnational Referral Mechanism
The Task Force maintains the Baltic Sea Region Transnational Referral Mechanism (BSR-TRM), developed during the HOF-BSR (Paving the Way for the Harmonized Operational Framework in the Baltic Sea Region) project in 2018. The aim of the BSR-TRM is the effective and safe transnational assistance and referral of victims of trafficking to a range of services to the Baltic Sea States and Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania.
There are two undergoing processes related to the mechanism:
- Evaluation of the mechanism, led by Member State Latvia. The evaluation aims to gather information on the use of the mechanism and provide information to support its further development.
- PROMISE-TRM – Child Specific Referral Mechanisms and Multidisciplinary Collaboration – Responding to Covid-19 trends, securing a safe pathway to justice, protection & assistance for child victims of trafficking project (2022-2024), led by the CBSS Children at Risk unit. The aim of the project is i.e. to improve the TRM by complementing it with information on assisting and identifying trafficked children.
In 2011, the Task Force published the “Handbook for Diplomats and Personnel at the Consular and Migration Sections at Embassies and Diplomatic Missions on How to Assist And Protect Victims Of Human Trafficking”. The Handbook has been one of the most used publications of TF-THB, as it has provided embassies tools to identify trafficking in human beings and assist and refer possible victims. To adapt the contents of the Handbook to the changes in the human trafficking environment of the past years, the TF-THB is updating the Handbook during 2022.
In 2020-2022 the Task Force conducted project THALIA (Towards thoughtful, informed, and compassionate journalism in covering human trafficking). The project aimed to raise awareness as well as foster exchange of experiences and modus between students and teachers of journalism from universities in Finland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and Ukraine and engage students in the topic of THB. Being one of the most successful projects of the TF-THB, the project i.a. raised the awareness of more than 700 journalists and journalism students in the region.
- Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings Strategic Plan 2020-2025
- Terms of Reference of the CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings
- Baltic Sea Region Transnational Referral Mechanism
- Human Trafficking – Baltic Sea Round-up report 2022 (2022)
- Joint Statement of commitment to work against human trafficking for labour exploitation in the Baltic Sea Region (2021)
- TF-THB CAPE Online Conference (2021)
- Trafficking in the Digital Era Online Conference (2021)
- The role of media in shaping the understanding of Trafficking in Human Beings -webinar (2021)
- The Relationship Between Recruitment Practices and Trafficking in Human Beings for Forced Labour, Exploitation for Forced Labour, and Other Exploitative Labour Situations of Lithuanians Abroad (2020)
- New discussions on the complicated relationship between Poland and forced labour (2020)
- Human Trafficking and Exploitation in the Swedish Labour Market: an overview. (2020)
- Labour Exploitation, Forced labour and Human Trafficking in Germany. Current Challenges and Developments (2020)
- Media and Trafficking in Human Beings – guidelines (2019)
- Human Trafficking Glossary (2019)
- Road map for integration of victims of human trafficking among migrants in Finland, Germany, and Sweden (2018)
- Guidelines for Municipalities: “Stepping Up Local Action against Human Trafficking” (2016)
The TF-THB is composed of government representatives from the CBSS Member States. The European Commission as a member of the CBSS can also appoint a member to the Task Force. The current members of the Task Force are:
- Denmark: Maria Buus Dyhr Erikssen, Ministry of Employment and Matilde Skov Danstrøm, Danish Centre against Human Trafficking
- Estonia: Anu Leps, Ministry of Justice
- Finland: Dr. Venla Roth, Ministry of Justice and Katri Lyijynen, National Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking
- Germany: Martina Wichmann-Bruche, Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Lisa Fischer and Florian Wehner, Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
- Iceland: Hildur Sunna Pálmadóttir, Ministry of Justice
- Latvia: Agnese Zile-Veisberga, Ministry of the Interior
- Lithuania: Sonata Mickute, Ministry of the Interior
- Norway: Jan Austad, Ministry of Justice and Public Security and Julie Platou Kvammen, National Police Directorate, Norwegian Police Authority
- Poland: Agnieszka Oknińska, Ministry of the Interior and Administration
- Sweden: Ida Pettersson, Division for Gender Equality, Ministry of Employment
- Edi Mujaj, Senior Adviser and Head of Unit, Phone: +46 70 276 52 29, Email: [email protected]
- Veikko Mäkelä, Project Officer, Phone: +46 72 589 02 22, Email: [email protected]