On 19-20 September, LSI organised its annual NGO Platform and General Assembly meeting in Bucharest. Thirty-five member representatives discussed the challenges they face in their daily work with supporting trafficked persons and at-risk groups, as well as actions that the Platform can take at the European level over the next year.
The LSI secretariat and Board presented the activity and financial report of the Secretariat for the past year and these were approved by the General Assembly. We organised a special session on the shrinking space for civil society in Europe for a paper we are preparing on this topic, and a session on the standards for all aspects of our work. Six workshops were held: on NGO identification of trafficked persons; the addition of new forms of exploitation (illegal adoption and forced marriage) in the draft EU Anti-Trafficking Directive; labour sectors vulnerable to exploitation; unfair recruitment practices; National and European Referral Mechanism(s); and non-punishment.
On the first day, we organised a public event and exchange on the war in Ukraine and the risks of human trafficking among people fleeing the war. Guest speakers were Ms. Cristina Stepanescu, Director of the Romanian Anti-Trafficking Commission (ANITP), Mr. Mark Ebling, Consultant for IOM Romania on Counter Human Trafficking and Mr. Pablo Zapata – UNHCR Romania. They discussed with LSI representatives and Romanian stakeholders the assistance provided to Ukrainians, challenges and lessons learnt, the current situation and remaining risks of exploitation and abuse, as well as recommendations for the period to come. Romanian attendees included police and prosecutors and representatives from ANITP, DIICOT and representatives from the Department for Community Social Responsibility and Vulnerable Groups, representatives of international organisations and civil society actors, including NGOs from the ProTECT platform. We will soon share a recording of the event on our website.