Presentation at Forum on Albanian Anti-Trafficking Efforts
May 22, 2007
Good afternoon, my name is Bruce Hintz. I have worked with the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (also known as ICITAP) for the past 18 years. ICITAP is a program in the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice that does international law enforcement development work. We implement programs around the world designed to professionalize police institutions in a manner that is wholly consistent with international best practices, human rights standards and the professional and ethical delivery of police services to their respective communities. We have a sister agency in the Department, the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (or OPDAT), and as their name implies they handle the prosecutorial component of the criminal justice equation. As is the case in Albania, ICITAP and OPDAT work together to present a combined criminal justice development front in many countries where the US Government offers rule of law and law enforcement development programs.
From February 2003 until October 2006 I managed ICITAP’s Program of support to the Government of Albania. This support focused on five major project areas, almost all of which impact directly or indirectly on combating trafficking in humans. These areas of support are: Border Management, Organized Crime, Academy and Training Development, Professional Accountability and Human Resource Management and the development of an information management system for the police. The US Mission in Albania has identified these areas as being critical to the establishment of security and the rule of law in Albania, which is essential to the overall development of the country and to its objectives of accession to NATO, The European Union and other Euro-Atlantic organizations.
I’ll quickly offer a brief description of each of these projects:
Effective Border Management is a critical component of any effort to prevent and eliminate trafficking in human beings. ICITAP is currently offering support to the GOA to develop their border control capabilities. The Border and Migration Police is part of the ASP, therefore the larger ongoing restructuring of the State Police has also had a large impact on the BMP, which is undergoing a complete reorganization to institute a more effective and centralized command and control – an effort that we have supported with assistance in organizational and management reform as well as the development of policies and procedures. Working with the Government of Albania and the international community, ICITAP has supported the development and implementation of the IBM Strategy and Action Plan which seeks to define and formalize the roles and duties of and cooperation among all government entities with responsibilities at the borders.
On the maritime borders, assistance is being offered to strengthen enforcement and controls at the country’s seaports. This has included creating and standing up a Port Security Force in the largest Port of Durres initially and the subsequent expansion of this security measure to Albania’s other ports handling international traffic. ICITAP has focused its efforts in the ports on supporting Albania’s efforts to become compliant with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS). This has involved comprehensive security assessments, the development of security plans and their sustained implementation through drill and regular audits.
The US Mission in Tirana has placed a high priority on combating Human Trafficking in Albania. For that reason ICITAP was asked to provide full-time advisory support to the Office of the National Coordinator for Combating Human Trafficking, this was prior to Ms. Zajmi’s being named as the National Coordinator. The current ICITAP advisor has extensive experience in the field of combating human trafficking in the Balkans. Through his work ICITAP has supported the elaboration of a National Anti-Trafficking Strategy and Plan and its implementation by the Inter-Ministerial Anti-Trafficking Committee and the corresponding, more operational, Inter-Ministerial Focal Points Committee. ICITAP has helped to develop a National Referral Mechanism for the appropriate treatment and processing of victims of trafficking returning to the country. Under the direction of DM Zajmi the Office of the Coordinator has been reorganized and expanded to play a more vital role in coordinating the government’s anti-trafficking programs and advocating for a more aggressive and integrated approach. This more aggressive approach has been highlighted by efforts to obtain an agreement with the Government of Greece for the effective processing and repatriation of trafficked children, the creation of a national Responsible Authority for dealing with trafficking and for coordinating and directing the work of regional committees that deal with the problem on the local level.
Coordination of the government’s anti-trafficking initiatives is a challenging proposition which calls for ensuring action and follow-up of all of the government ministries and agencies that have responsibilities across the protection, prevention, prosecution and coordination spectrum. It also requires the integration of the efforts of international donors and NGOS. USAID’s CAAHT program (Coordinated Action Against Human Trafficking) is one of these programs – it has offered grants to NGO’s to support the work of the regional committees and other civil society groups offering different services to raise awareness, protect and reintegrate victims, and so on.
Organized criminal groups dominate much of the human trafficking and related criminal activity in Albania and the rest of the Balkans. For that reason and others the US Government and the international community have devoted considerable resources to standing up Albania’s capability to effectively investigate and prosecute these groups. ICITAP offers professional advisory support, training and equipment donations to support the development of the ASP’s Organized Crime Directorate and its component sectors, which include Anti-Trafficking, Financial Crimes, Anti-Narcotics, Special Operations and Criminal Intelligence Analysis. Significant improvements have been achieved in the conduct of investigations in all areas with improved special investigative techniques, better case management and the analysis and utilization of criminal intelligence for a more effective understanding of criminal groups and activities. ICITAP, in close coordination with our OPDAT colleagues and other international donors is currently focused on the development of a witness protection capability – which is critical to aggressively addressing organized crime – and the creation and development of an Economic Crimes and Corruption Task Force.
Police Academy and Training Development:
An indigenous and effective police training function is critical to sustainable and long-term professionalization of any police institution. For that reason, ICITAP is offering assistance to the Albanian State Police to completely reform its police school and its training function to bring it into line with Western and European best practices. ICITAP’s comprehensive program of assistance involved:
1) restructuring the academy – which meant jettisoning the previous two-level 3-year officer and 9-month basic recruit training approach; everyone now enters at the same level and must work their way up through the ranks based on merit.
2) completely redoing the curriculum to make it more practical and relevant - using the Kosovo Police Service School as a model.
3) instituting a 20 week field training program to follow the 20 weeks of classroom instruction.
4) revamping the recruitment and selection process to ensure impartiality and transparency, and
5) creating a training sector in the General Directorate of the ASP
ICITAP has been careful to ensure that the issue of human trafficking is thoroughly covered in the reworked curriculum and in the field training portion of the police instruction. This part of the curriculum has been reviewed by Minister Zajmi’s office.
The first class under this new system graduated in February and is currently in the field training portion of their training.
Professional Accountability and Human Resource Management:
ICITAP has worked with the ASP to develop their internal affairs function to effectively investigate official misconduct and criminal behavior. The program is also working to support the development of merit-based personnel management structures, policies, procedures and mechanisms that ensure the advancement of officers based on their qualifications; and for the effective deployment of human and material resources based on actual need and requirements.
The yet-to-be passed state police law and the parallel police reorganization are two initiatives that ICITAP and our counterparts in the international community and the Ministry of Interior have capitalized on and utilized as the definitive instrument to officially and legally establish and sanction the relevant structures and regulations critical to this and other efforts.
The largest project ICITAP is implementing in Albania is the development and installation of a law enforcement information management system that we refer to as TIMS – the Total Information Management System. This is an ambitious project to create a national system – with some 70 sites around the country and at all border crossing points. The system is composed of 4 basic modules:
1) A Border Control Information System: will register and check all persons and vehicles entering or exiting Albania. Hundreds of wanted persons have been identified and detained since installation began in April 2004. The system will include features, such as license and facial recognition at certain points of entry, and can flag possible trafficking scenarios – such as adults frequently crossing the border accompanied by different minors on each occasion – there is a similar feature and alert for vehicles.
2) Case Management Information System: Cases will now be recorded in the system, greatly facilitating the management and processing of cases, the analysis and manipulation of information and the populating of criminal databases.
3) Criminal Records Information System: criminal databases and related information.
4) Criminal Intelligence Information System: This system will utilize criminal intelligence analysis software to analyze information in the rest of the system to identify criminal groups, activity, patterns and modus operandi.
ICITAP’s partner in crime fighting, OPDAT, is expanding a version of the system to prosecutors’ offices around the country, which should significantly enhance communication and cooperation among the police and government attorneys for a more effective prosecution of criminal groups and individuals.
Progress has been achieved in the fight against human trafficking in Albania, but there are still many hurdles and shortcomings that must be overcome and many challenges to be addressed. However, to gauge and appreciate the progress made thus far, one only has to look back at what has transpired in the country since the fall of communism in 1992, or since the collapse of the government in 1997. Government institutions were much weaker and were only beginning to stand up and function with any effectiveness. Illegal immigration along with the trafficking was completely out of control. Traffickers and smugglers in their speed boats used to operate openly without fear of arrest and prosecution in the bay of Vlora in the southern part of the country, picking up their human cargo and speeding across the Adriatic to deliver it to the coast of Italy. The Government took its first big step in dealing with the problem in August of 2002 by rounding up the speed boats confiscating some and burning the rest. Since that time, the Government has become more serious about - and more effective in dealing with - this serious problem and the numbers of people trafficked have steadily come down. The progress has been gradual and has been moved along with considerable help and encouragement from the international community and NGO’s. Some of this encouragement and motivation has come in the form of the State Department’s annual assessment of performance, the Trafficking in Persons Report. For the Government of Albania, Deputy Minister of Interior and National Coordinator Iva Zajmi has played a significant role in addressing this serious problem, raising its profile and making the government accountable and responsive to the demands that trafficking places on it. As US and international funding for development in Albania gradually decrease over the next years, Albania will need more government officials like Ms. Zajmi who truly understand the issues and are dedicated to addressing them.