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Updated country policy guidance on human trafficking in Albania


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A report on the fact-finding mission in Albania on human trafficking, conducted between 5 and 12 October 2022, was published shortly before Rishi Sunak’s new new immigration plan was announced yesterday. As a result of the reports findings, the Albania Country Policy and Information Note on human trafficking has been updated. Many of the updates seem to contradict Sunak’s suggestion that new guidance will be issued to caseworkers dealing with asylum claims from Albanian nationals that will make it “crystal clear” that Albania is a safe country.

Amongst other things, the guidance now points to a number of organisations confirming that one of the risk factors for human trafficking includes the difficult economic situation and being in receipt of economic aid. As being a victim of trafficking, in itself, is something stigmatic, many people are also re-entering trafficking because of the economic hardship they continue to face, including as a result of not being accepted into society. Without being able to re-integrate into society and conjuring up such strong stigma and shame, people often no longer need coercion or force to be re-trafficked.

Trafficking is generally associated with sexual exploitation, ensuring that men and boys who have been trafficked often feel even more stigmatised and would not come forward as the victim of trafficking. The country policy guidance confirms that most actual or potential victims of trafficking were women. Most men did not accept or recognise that they were victims of trafficking. And it is concerning that UNICEF’s Albania September 2022 report found that only 5% of people recognised that men over the age of 18 were also at risk of trafficking.

Police officers have no training on identifying victims of trafficking in Albania. And the low rates of prosecution of traffickers (inside and outside Albania) leads to persistent exploitation. The General Prosecutors Office in Albania confirmed that crimes like prostitution could lead to a conviction, even amongst trafficked women. The extent of financial assistance, accommodation and support offered to individuals before and after trafficking in Albania is also discussed at length.

In general, the lack of data about the number of potential or actual victims of trafficking that have been identified in Albania and across Europe is still insufficient, says the European Commission’s Albania Report 2022, referenced in the country policy guidance. There is also no official data on the number of people re-trafficked, though where such a huge stigma attached to trafficking remains, particularly for Albanian men, this data might remain out of reach.

The country policy guidance now contains more discussion of the economic situation in Albania and how it impacts trafficking. Alongside the theme of whether people in the UK and Albania, are likely to recognise males as victims of trafficking, the country policy guidance might be more a more useful snapshot of the situation in Albania moving forward, despite what Sunak says.

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