Trafficking in human beings was the subject of the first ‘Euromed Police Exchange’, which took place in Italy last month, with police officers from seven Mediterranean partner countries spending a week with their Italian colleagues to gather experience on the issue.
Since its launch, the EU-funded project Euromed Police IV has identified several areas of priority, which are laid down in the Euromed Police Strategy. One of these areas is the trafficking in human beings with the aim of labour and sexual exploitation, in conjunction with the irregular migration supported by criminal networks.
Throughout the exchange week, police experts from the partner countries had the opportunity to get a real contact with operational police officers experienced in migration and human trafficking issues, in the context of the migration crisis affecting countries on both shores of the Mediterranean, with Italy being a favoured destination for immigrants.
The Italian Police Forces mobilised significant human and material resources to make a success of this action, which involved the participation of relevant services from the Guardia Di Finanza, Polizia di Stato and Caribinieri, coordinated by the CEPOL national unit. This broad range of expertise enabled the participants to fully perceive the different aspects of an investigation on trafficking in human beings, while the presence of international actors such as Frontex, Europol, the IOM or the UNHCR showcased the regional nature of this priority area for Euromed Police.
Euromed Police experts were also deployed at the operational Air and Sea Command of Pratica Di Mare, a military airport currently hosting the Coordination Centre of Frontex, or at Fiumicino airport. Starting from the Italian experience, they also exchanged experience on topics such as border documents checks and falsified documents, cyber investigations or asset recovery. Various dimensions of policing in those fields were covered, such as the different investigation techniques, evidence gathering and criminal analysis in the context of trafficking.
The working sessions were the scene of intense, sometimes passionate exchanges between the participating police officers who experience the effects of the migration crisis in their daily work. The immediate result of this exchange will be a direct contribution to the Euromed Knowledge Base through the form of a manual on investigation of trafficking in human beings and irregular migration.
The aim of the Euromed Police IV project is to increase citizens’ security across the Euro-Mediterranean area through the strengthening of cooperation on security issues between the Southern Mediterranean partner countries, as well as between these countries and the EU Member States. It builds on the achievements of the previous phases of the project. The project runs from 2016-2020 with a budget of €5 million.