American agents discover details of partnership with our institutions
US Agents in Press – FBI gives a good note to our police
Press, 11. 12. 2011
Same: Minister of interior is doing his job well despite technical inferior conditions comparing to ours. Our job as FBI agent isn’t even close as glamorous as Hollywood describes it.
Without sunglasses and in totally regular suits, a group of FBI agents that is working on fighting human trafficking toured Serbia, getting to know how our police works and to build partnership in the field of human trafficking as one of the three most widespread and most profitable criminal activities in the world.
Special FBI agent James Hardy, specialist for working with victims, FBI Jenifer Meyers and Federal Prosecutor Duncan Brown came to Serbia from Ohio. Their partnership with the Serbian police is part of the cooperation agreement between the Ministry of the Interior and Ohio Police which Minister Ivica Dačić has signed recently in Columbus.
Tour across Serbia
During their visit they put a good word for Serbian police who is “doing very good job” – despite working in technically inferior conditions. Because, as they say, job of an FBI agent is not as glamorous as Hollywood describes it, and crime is the same everywhere. At least for human trafficking, which has 700.000 new victims every year.
They told us they know about cases of human trafficking in Serbia and that they were shocked when they heard about the case of father who sold his daughter for 1000 Euros in Sweden, but they claim that such cases happens in all parts of the world..
Communication is the Most Important
We asked FBI agents how big a problem of chaos in Kosovo and Metohija is, as it is considered to be a central point of human trafficking in Europe.
– We haven’t spoken about any specific country. In every state, a prosecutor should work with police investigators on the field, who are coming from criminalistic and border police or immigration, everybody working together. When we talk about international trafficking, we should emphasize that it happens everywhere, in Croatia, and in Germany and in Switzerland, and in the USA. We need communication between border police offices, and if there isn’t any, that is a problem – says Duncan Brown.
– We are familiar with cases of human trafficking in Serbia and we noticed a lot of things we see in the USA. Like here, poverty is in the core of the problem in the USA, too. Mostly it’s about sex trafficking with the victims who are recruited into prostitution from the situation of poverty – says agent Hardy.
Braun says that human trafficking is specific field of crime and it needs special measures.
– Different techniques are being used, but in this case most efficient is to include the victim in the process. Various actions and raids in brothels are solving the problem in the short run, but only a girl who was forced to work in such brothels can bring the most efficient evidence against traffickers. Often only one victim can discover a whole chain of brothels. That is why witness protection program is important. And that’s why laws that protect victims on the long run are more useful than raids – he explained and added that the US delegation was impressed with how the Serbian Prosecutor’s Office and police were dealing with this problem.
– It is important that we pay attention to victims and that NGOs that are helping them are included in the process. It is important to understand that persons caught in prostitution are not criminals, they are victims. We have noticed that the Serbian police have such attitude now – they said.
Jenifer Meyers, specialist in working with victims, says that this position has been introduced so that victims could, after breaking the chain of prostitution, start the process of recovery.
Justice for the Pimp
– In Serbia, the police and NGOs have showed that they understand the way of work that we use in the USA. Such method gives victims rights they did not have earlier. It happened earlier that the police would bring the girl-victim in, take her statement and let her go, and no one would take care about her. On the other hand, due attention has always been paid to the rights of prosecuted pimp before the court. That is not normal – she explained.
Hardy says that FBI is strict regarding the safety of witnesses or their families and that they do not hesitate to arrest anyone who is treat to their safety.
– Of course, that is not like in the movies, it rarely happens that a witness gets a new identity and be moved to another country. In most of the cases it is not necessary, and victims themselves usually do not want that – he said.
Although our guests from FBI told us that traffickers were among the best organized criminal groups whose functioning require many people, in Serbia, the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime has not filed an indictment for human trafficking in 22 months.
– There are crimes that are prosecuted at a district, state or federal level. In our country it is also possible that a criminal, if he is being prosecuted at the state level, gets lower punishment than he would have got at the federal level. That is why it is important that the police and Prosecutor’s Office work together, such partnership is the best for deciding on which level the case be prosecuted – Hardy said.
Nothing Comes Over Night
Meyers also said that Serbia is in the anti-trafficking stage which the USA went through six or seven years ago.
– Nothing can be developed over night. Here, in Serbia, we see the processes we’ve been through – she says.
Our guests claim that after their visit, it will be easier both for them and their Serbian colleagues to do their job. They explain:
– We have made personal contacts. Now Serbian police can call us whenever they need help, and we know whom to call when we run across the case that is connected to Serbia. For example, if a girl from Serbia were kidnapped and transported to another country, your police would call us. Even if she is taken to another country, not to the USA, because we can contact the police in that country.
Veljko Miladinović, Milan Dudvarski