Practical and Empirical Approach to Address Trafficking in Human Beings for Sexual Exploitation in the Baltic Sea Region (PEX-BSR).


The “Practical and Empirical Approach to Address Trafficking in Human Beings for Sexual Exploitation in the Baltic Sea Region” (PEX-BSR) project contributes to enabling the necessary coordination among CBSS Member States to combat human trafficking for sexual exploitation in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). It also seeks to shed some light on the demand for sexual services as a driver of this crime. In general, the project aims to reinforce the response and capacity of frontline workers in the BSR to identify and combat human trafficking through the utilisation of evidence-based data and information.

Short and long-term objectives

Through cooperation with the CBSS Member States, the PEX-BSR project aims to enable a systematic and coordinated effort against human trafficking for sexual exploitation and, simultaneously, highlight the demand for sexual services as a key factor behind the crime. The project stands on two pillars: the production of evidence-based information and findings on the topic, and efforts to raise the competence of frontline workers in the BSR to enhance operational responses. 

Targeted at public sector professionals working with victims of human trafficking and vulnerable groups – such as women, girls, migrants, youth and LGBTQIA+ persons – the project aims to provide new insights into the topic and present strategies that can support professionals in the Baltic Sea Region to effectively detect and fight human trafficking for sexual exploitation.  

Project activities

1. Investigation protocol for law enforcement agencies on human trafficking

Within the framework of the project, the CBSS Task Force Against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB) will develop an investigation protocol on trafficking in human beings (THB), designed to provide practical guidance and operational methodological support to police investigators and prosecutors in the CBSS member states. This comprehensive guideline and practical tool for law enforcement agencies seeks to equip investigators with the relevant tools to ensure solid investigations after the step of early identification.

The Investigation Protocol can serve as a reference document that can be integrated into current national police training or introduced as a new police training tool for CBSS member states.

The development of the Investigation Protocol will be carried out by the TF-THB, with contributions from law enforcement agencies in the CBSS member states, as well as Europol and Frontex.

The following organisations support, provide advice or contribute to this activity:

  • South Jutland Police, Denmark
  • Prosecutor General’s Office, Lithuania
  • The National Police Competence Group on Trafficking in Human Beings, headed by NCIS, Norway
  • National Police Headquarters, Department for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the Criminal Bureau, Poland
  • Border Guards Headquarters, Poland
  • The Swedish Police Authority, Sweden
  • Europol
  • Frontex

2. Online training module for embassies and diplomatic missions

Within the framework of the project, an online training module for embassies and diplomatic missions will be developed, based on the CBSS Handbook for Embassies and Diplomatic Missions on how to Assist and Protect Victims of Human Trafficking. Since the publication of the handbook, the TF-THB has noted a strong demand from ministries for foreign affairs in the region and beyond for trainings on the topic of human trafficking. This online training will further emphasise specific vulnerabilities of children and LGBTQIA+ persons risking being exploited in Human Trafficking for sexual exploitation. The activity will include an Advisory Board of case handlers from embassies and relevant state agencies from the CBSS member states.

3. Creating educational material tailored to young audiences about human trafficking for sexual exploitation and demand.

In collaboration with the Baltic Sea Region Youth Forum (BSRYF) and through collaboration with Baltic Sea Region NGOs, the TF-THB will produce youth-inclusive educational materials for schools and youth across the Baltic Sea Region and Ukraine. The materials will delve into the evolving character of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, focusing on emerging trends such as online exploitation. They will also shed light on the critical role of demand in fuelling these crimes.

4. Evidence-based studies and overview on Human Trafficking

The project will produce studies and overviews related to the overall scope, trends and development tendencies, demand, rights and remedies and specific vulnerabilities of victims in the context of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Due to the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the ensuing humanitarian crisis, human trafficking risks have increased in the Baltic Sea Region. Against this background, there is an acute need to accumulate data and knowledge to provide the CBSS Member States with an updated overview of the current state and overall scope of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.


The unprovoked and illegal war waged by Russia against Ukraine has increased the risk of human trafficking in the region, exacerbating the vulnerabilities among millions of Ukrainians displaced throughout the region. The current human trafficking risks, and the overall geopolitical security deterioration, requires closer collaboration between law enforcement authorities to adequately detect, investigate and prosecute individuals facilitating or coordinating human trafficking and other forms of organised crime. 

Since the start of the war, and suspension of Russia and Belarus from further participation in the Council’s activities, the TF-THB has amplified its joint efforts to meet the challenges posing the region currently, through activities seeking to further emphasise an evidence-based approach and equip frontline workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to respond to human trafficking. 

In this effort, further emphasis should be allocated to present best practices in working against human trafficking, accumulate information and data to generate an evidence-based overview of the crime and its characteristics, as well as facilitating activities that enable formal as well as informal contacts and exchange between law enforcement authorities in the region.

In the needs assessment conducted by the TF-THB unit, it was concluded that although there are training materials developed in different capacities for law enforcement agencies in the region, there is a tendency to focus mainly on detecting the human trafficking crime and less on the steps after early identification, risking limiting the scope of responsibility to merely identification. Equally, there is a need to not only produce evidence-based knowledge on vulnerabilities, demand and emerging trends in the context of human trafficking, but also allocate resources to equip frontline workers and law enforcement agencies with tools to respond to this serious crime. 


January 2024 – December 2024


Government Offices of Sweden


  • Edi Mujaj, Senior Adviser and Head of the TF-THB Unit, Phone: +46 70 276 52 29, Email: [email protected]
  • Veikko Mäkelä, Project Officer at the TH-THB Unit, Phone: +46 72 589 02 22, Email: [email protected]