8 November 2005 The new Government of Albania has improved the legal framework necessary to reduce the flow of trafficked children, but it must develop a national child protection system aimed at combating the poverty that drives exploitation, a United Nations human rights expert said after completing his visit to the Balkan country yesterday.
Want, lack of opportunities and social services, stigmatized minorities, discrimination against women, and an inadequate educational system are at the root of the scourge, the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Juan Miguel Petit said.
“This is what makes children leaving their communities, in most cases in dangerous conditions. This is what puts them at risk of exploitation and trafficking. This is the disease we have to treat.
“A strong child protection system needs to be put in place, with a firm investment in education and social services, together with strengthened child protection component of police, health and justice,” stressed the expert, who serves in an independent personal capacity.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been providing a good range of social programmes funded almost exclusively through international aid, he said. “It is time for the State to take up responsibilities in social matters, capitalizing on the experiences of NGOs and supporting their activities and programmes.”
Among the important achievements of the Government in the past five years, he cited legislative and policy frameworks, societal awareness, improved police training and border controls and strengthened prosecution capacity.
The expert also emphasized that child trafficking is a global problem. “Countries of destination have their responsibilities as well. It is time they assume them,” he said. “Albanian victims of trafficking are exploited in Greece, Italy, and other European States. These countries have legal obligations and duties vis-à-vis these victims and victims have rights that too often are not respected.”
Mr. Petit carried out his official visit to Albania from 31 October to 7 November, visiting Tirana, Korca and Elbasan and conducting more than 40 meetings with over 100 persons, he said. The Albanian office of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) facilitated the visit, which will be followed by a week-long trip to Greece.
In related news, UNICEF yesterday praised the United States for becoming the 95th country to ratify the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, a supplement to the UN Convention against International Organized Crime, which entered into force in 2003.
The protocol calls for specific measures to prevent human trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims.