PEX-BSR

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

About PEX-BSR

The PEX-BSR project endeavours to undertake systematic and coordinated efforts alongside CBSS Member States to combat human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Simultaneously, it seeks to shed light on the demand for sexual services as a significant driver of this crime.

The project aims to bolster the response and capacity of frontline workers in the Baltic Sea Region to identify and combat human trafficking through the utilisation of evidence-based data and information.

Background

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 CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (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. There is a need to not only produce evidence-based knowledge on vulnerabilities, demand and emerging trends in the context from human trafficking while also allocating resources to equip frontline workers and law enforcement agencies with tools to respond to this serious crime, beyond the step of early identification. 

Short and long-term objectives

Through cooperation with the CBSS member states, the PEX-BSR project aims to conduct a systematic and coordinated work 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 legs: production of evidence-based information and findings on the topic, and competence raising efforts for frontline workers in the Baltic Sea Region to enhance operational responses. 

Aimed for public and civil sector professionals working with victims of human trafficking and vulnerable groups, such as women, girls, migrants, youth and LGBTIQ+ persons, the project aims to provide new knowledge and input on the topic and present strategies that can support the professionals in the Baltic Sea Region to effectively detect and fight human trafficking for sexual exploitation.  

Project activities

  1. Investigation Protocol on Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) for law enforcement agencies

Within the frame of the project, the TF-THB will develop an Investigation Protocol on THB, purposed to provide practical guidance and operational method support to police investigators, and prosecutors, in our member states. This comprehensive guideline and practical tool for law enforcement agencies seeks to equip investigators with the relevant tools to ensure solid investigations. It should cover aspects, such as but not limited to, the legal definitions of THB and related crimes (international definition as well as national interpretations and related legislation) – to what to consider when planning an inspection or raid, what to look for during an inspection or raid, and how to conduct a successful financial investigation. 

The Investigation Protocols will also 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 Protocol can subsequently also be reshaped and condensed into shorter national publications, phone applications or online training modules.

The development of the Investigation Protocol will be carried out by the TF-THB in cooperation with its member states and FRONTEX.

  1. Online training module for Embassies and Diplomatic Missions

Within the frame 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. The training will 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 relevant state agencies from the CBSS member states, and international organisations. 

  1. Evidence studies and overview on Human Trafficking

The project will produce studies and overviews relating 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 following humanitarian crisis, the 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 member states with an updated overview on the current state and overall scope of human trafficking. The studies should lay the ground for new initiatives and measures aimed at addressing the challenges identified. 

  1. Revision and production of information material for schools in the Baltic Sea Region

Develop information material for schools and youth in the Baltic Sea Region and Ukraine on emerging forms of sexual exploitation and youth, including online exploitation and the role of demand as a driver behind these crimes. The material will encompass a clear LGBTQIA perspective as well. The activities will be carried out in cooperation with youth.

Duration

January 2024 – December 2024

Funding

Swedish Government Offices

Contacts

  • 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]