Corruption and trafficking in women. The case of Croatia.

This report analyses the relationships between trafficking, corruption and organised crime in Croatia. The research finds that the countries of choice for human traffickers in transporting victims are those where indicators suggest a low level of reliability of police work or a high-level of corruption in police departments and among border patrols. In addition, reluctance on the part of government institutions to identify victims may arise from the costs the country would then incur for victim assistance programmes. In Croatia, limited access to official data and the reluctance of judicial and law enforcement agencies to look into the issue have undermined attempts to determine with precision the extent of these problems. Neither the policy documents, nor the strategies and action plans envisage tackling trafficking-related corruption or even addressing it in training programmes for law enforcement, prosecutors and judges. This aspect of anti-trafficking policies in Croatia indicates lack of awareness in government that may prove to be the most important aspect in fighting trafficking. This deficiency is exacerbated in societies where trafficking is treated primarily as a security issue, rather than as a human rights issue. Corruption in the trafficking chain, especially in law enforcement, is one of key catalysts in the rise of human trafficking. Statistical analyses, as well as victims and other actors all point to the police as a key protagonist in protecting the business of trafficking in Croatia and elsewhere in Europe, instead of fulfilling their role in identifying and rescuing victims. The low number of victims identified in Croatia indicates potential ineffectiveness of the existing institutional framework to tackle the issue of trafficking or to establish priorities for developing anti-trafficking policies in the future.

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