Areas of work- Full Information

“Vatra” Center works to inform, educate and raise awareness in the community.

Informative and educational campaigns are realized mainly with 9th -graders and high schoolers, women, girls, men and boys in urban and rural areas of the districts of: Vlora, Gjirokastra, Fier, Lushnje, Berat, Durres, Dibra, Shkodra, Lezha.

Some of the activities that Vatra carries out in the framework of the prevention program are:

– Informative sessions

– Seminars

– Focus groups

– Forums

– Radio and TV talks in local and national media

– Production and distribution of informative materials: leaflets, brochures, posters, informative and awareness videos, etc.

– Organization of marches, public activities, etc.

Every year, special attention is paid to the implementation of activities in the framework of the national anti-trafficking month (October), International Anti-Trafficking Day (July 30), 16 International Days Against Violence (November 25 – December 10), International Women’s Day ( March 8). These activities consist of: organizing and participating in marches / manifestations / protests, as well as activities in public places during which informative materials are distributed such as leaflets, posters, T-shirts with slogans, etc.

Social media (Facebook and Instagram) is also used as a tool for the information of citizens on human trafficking, gender-based violence and other negative phenomena affecting the target groups that Vatra assists. Social networks are also widely used to inform about the activities and services that Vatra offers in support of its beneficiaries.

Realization of public activities in the field of prevention is done through cooperation with national institutions, local and NGOs, networks where Vatra is part, and partners of Vatra, among which it is worth pointing out: the

Ministry of Internal Affairs / Office of the National Anti-trafficking Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Municipalities of Vlora, Fier, Berat, Diber, Durres, Shkoder, Gjirokaster, Albanian Women’s Empowerment Network (AWEN), Coalition of Anti-Trafficking Shelters, Renate, URAT network, etc.

During the 22 years of activity of Vatra, more than 35 thousand people have benefited from its program.

IDENTIFICATION OF POTENTIAL VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING

Vatra Mobile Units identify potential victims of trafficking.

Vatra works for the identification of Potential Victims of Trafficking through the mobile units set up in 5 regions of Albania: Vlora since 2013; Diber, Berat and Durres from 2020 and in the region of Lezha from May 2022.

The Mobile Units consist of 2 social workers, who do proactive outreach work to identify potential victims of trafficking based on Standard Operating Procedures for the Protection of Victims / Potential Victims of Trafficking (Approved by DCM No. 499, dated 29.08.2018). The Mobile Units target and access marginalized areas and groups as well as individuals who have limited access to information and protection, or who are at risk of being trafficked.

“Vatra” Center has signed cooperation agreements with the Police Directorates in the above regions, in order to coordinate the work of the mobile units with the police officers of the sector against illegal trafficking in these directorates.

In addition to proactive outreach work for the identification of cases, the Mobile Units conduct informative sessions with 9th -graders and high schoolers, community members, women, girls, men and boys, in order to inform them about the recognition of human trafficking, forms of prevention, protection and reintegration services, access to justice and victims’ rights according to the legislation in force, etc. Of particular importance during these informative sessions are the employees of the mobile units who guide the participants on how to report suspected cases of trafficking or at risk of being trafficked. A significant number of cases identified by the mobile units have been reported by young people or community members who have participated in these informative sessions.

Each case identified by the Mobile Units is reported in real-time to the police officer of the anti-trafficking department in order to immediately intervene and start an investigation for the perpetrators who have committed the crime. The Mobile Units also notify the Responsible Authority at the Office of the National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator in the Ministry of Interior, an obligation that derives from the Standard Operating Procedures for the Protection of Victims of Trafficking.

Employees of the Mobile Units cooperate not only with the police but also with the employees of social services, Child Protection Unit in the respective municipalities where the case of the minor victim of trafficking is identified, the psychologists, social workers and teachers of secondary schools or high schools.

After the identification, the Mobile Units refer to the protection services all identified cases of victims / potential victims of trafficking.

DIRECT SERVICES

Direct services offered by “Vatra” are comprehensive services aiming at the rehabilitation and reintegration of victims.

Direct services for the reintegration of victims of human trafficking and gender-based violence are provided by a multidisciplinary team consisting of: social workers, a psychologist, two lawyers, a doctor, a nurse, an education specialist, an economic empowerment specialist, etc.

Services are provided in the shelter (24/7) as well as in the community according to the needs and will of the survivors.

The reintegration program includes the following services:

1. Shelter accommodation and security (24/7); meeting basic needs for food, hygiene, clothing, medical care;

2. Assisted return of victims of trafficking and gender-based violence;

3. Evaluation of the case’s needs and drafting of an assistance plan;

4. Counseling and psychological assistance;

5. Medical assistance for the physical, mental health and referral to health institutions according to specific health needs;

6. Legal assistance and advice;

7. Support for re-enrollment in the education system;

8. Following the educational process in educational institutions;

9. Multidisciplinary services for children of beneficiaries in the shelter or community;

10. Activities to increase life skills;

11. Occupational, socio-cultural activities inside and outside the shelter;

12. Counseling and mediation to re-establish contacts and reunite with the family (mainly minor cases);

13. Providing counseling cycle for employment and self-employment;

14. Registration and follow-up of the vocational training process at Vocational Training Directorates

15. On-the-job training / internship with local businesses or other agencies.

16. Mediation and assistance for employment and employment

17. Support with accommodation in rented apartments (paid by the program for 3, 6 or 12 months)

18. Support for the establishment and management of micro-businesses.

19. Support to meet basic needs for community-assisted cases (food, hygiene, medications, clothing, etc.);

20. Support for the registration in the Civil Registry Office (for the cases or unregistered children) and provision with identification tools for victims and children of the victims;

21. Mediation to the local government for their inclusion in the social housing scheme.

22. Informing the beneficiaries about the map of existing services in the community;

23. Counseling and support for family members of victims of trafficking and violence;

24. Long-term monitoring and follow-up of the cases’ progress during the program.

Services in the Legal Clinic

Since 2018, Vatra manages a Legal Clinic, currently the only one in Southern Albania, which provides legal services and psychological support to victims of trafficking, domestic violence, gender-based violence and children of the victims. Primary and secondary legal services are provided by two licensed lawyers. Psychological services are provided by two psychologists, one of whom provides counseling to victims and their children, while the other provides counseling for the psychological rehabilitation of abusive men. Legal and psychological services are provided not only at the clinic premises, but also at other law enforcement institutions, such as the Police, Prosecutor, Court, Bailiff’s Offices, Probation Service Offices, etc.

On average, about 270 cases are referred to the Clinic for help in a year.

CAPACITY

Strengthening the capacities of service providers is one of the priorities of Vatra’s work.

Trainings, workshops, round tables, and mentoring, take place at the national level, in all regions of Albania. Employees of state institutions that become part of these activities are mainly: police officers, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, teachers, psychologists, social workers, health workers, child protection workers, employees of the labor inspectorate, state social service, etc.

Vatra offers its expertise to increase the capacities of local structures regarding:

– Recognition and implementation of national anti-trafficking and anti-violence legislation and policies, conventions and other international instruments recognized and ratified by the Albanian state;

– Knowledge and effective practices for the identification, referral, case management and protection.

– Knowledge and effective practice regarding service approaches to victims

For the realization of activities, Vatra uses the internal expertise of the staff who for years works towards the protection of victims of trafficking, violence and children, but according to the specifics of training, workshops, etc., also contracts external experts.

It was noted that trainings and other activities in this area have also strengthened the cooperation and coordination of Vatra with actors at the central and local level responsible for the protection of victims of trafficking and gender-based violence.

Vatra also attaches importance to the continuous capacity building of its staff. New staff members are involved in an internal training process and all staff members, regardless of work experience status, are encouraged to participate in other trainings in the field of anti-trafficking, gender equality, gender-based violence, etc., which are realized by partner institutions and organizations, inside and outside the country.

LOBBYING AND ADVOCACY

“Vatra” lobbies and advocates for more robust legislation and for more effective social policies.

In the framework of this program, Vatra undertakes lobbying initiatives to improve the legal framework, carries out advocacy activities to improve national and local policies and effective practices for the protection of victims.

At the local level: Vatra is a member of the Regional Anti-Trafficking Committee / Technical Anti-Trafficking Roundtable at the Prefecture of Vlora, the National Mechanism for Referral of Cases of Domestic Violence in Vlora Municipality.

Also, since Vatra provides services for victims of trafficking and gender-based violence not only in the region of Vlora but all over the country, it is considered a close ally and collaborator of the Regional Anti-Trafficking Committees / Technical Roundtables in other regions of the country and of the National Mechanism for Referral of Cases of Domestic Violence in many other municipalities. Vatra actively participates in the meetings organized by these local mechanisms, by presenting the situation, challenges and difficulties faced by victims during the rehabilitation and reintegration process. Vatra requires the institutions, and members of these multidisciplinary mechanisms to assume their responsibilities in order to address the needs and difficulties faced by victims and their final resolution.

Vatra has also contributed and continues to contribute to the drafting and improvement of social plans of Vlora Municipality and beyond, as well as advocating to the Municipal Councils (of Vlora, Himara, Selenica, Berat, Fier, Kuçova, etc.) by hastening them to prioritize services in the annual budgets for the protection for victims of trafficking, sexual abuse, domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence and their children.

 

At the national level: During these 22 years Vatra has been part of many national initiatives and its experts have been members of working groups for:

– the improvement of the legal framework and drafting of new laws focusing on improving the protection and assistance of victims of trafficking, abuse, violence and child protection; sentencing the perpetrators of criminal offenses in accordance with other Conventions and International Instruments ratified by the Albanian state.

– drafting national strategies and action plans against human trafficking (latest 2021-2023); national strategies and action plans against gender-based violence (latest 2021-2030)

– drafting the first National Strategy “On Legal Education of the Public” 2020-2023.

– drafting and improvement of Standard Operating Procedures for the Protection of Victims of Trafficking / potential victims of trafficking approved by DCM no. 499, dated 29.08.2018

– drafting of a Protocol for the Management of Cases of sexual violence against adults, at the local level through a coordinated multi-sectoral approach.

– drafting the Protocol for the Management of Cases of Domestic Violence at the local level, through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

– drafting of the Management Protocol for the Cases of Domestic Violence at the local level, through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) during the COVID 19 situation.

– Drafting the Protocol for the functioning of public and non-public residential centers that provide housing service (shelters) for victims of domestic violence and trafficking in the situation of the pandemic COVID19, approved by Order no. 254 dated 10.04.2020 of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.

Drafting of Standards for Residential Centers for Victims of Trafficking and Domestic Violence.

Since 2005 Vatra is a signatory member of the Agreement with the National Referral Mechanism and from this year actively participates in meetings organized by the National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator at the Ministry of Interior where it raises concrete concerns and gives recommendations for the effective functioning of this mechanism regarding identification, referral and protection of victims / potential victims of trafficking.

As a member of different coalitions, Vatra has been part of public reactions as a result of the violation of the rights of women and children victims of trafficking, abuse and violence. Among them it is worth pointing out the reactions as part of the Albanian Women’s Empowerment Network (AWEN), the National Coalition of Anti-Trafficking Shelters, the Coalition “Justice for All”, the Network for Monitoring Against Gender-Based Violence, the “United Response Against Trafficking” URAT Network, etc.

At the international level, As an active organization and part of the national anti-trafficking and anti-violence mechanisms based on gender and with several years of expertise in this field, Vatra is invited to contribute to important reports of international institutions such as the Report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP REPORT) of the US Department of State, GRETA report (Expert Group on Monitoring the Implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings), the Council of Europe Progress Report on Albania. Regarding the latest report of more than 10 years with the support of Kvinna Till Kvinna Foundation in Sweden, Vatra participates in direct consultative meetings in Brussels with high-level representatives of the Council of Europe, the European Commission and members of the European Parliament.

For all the above reports, Vatra provides input on the situation of human trafficking in Albania, issues related to the rights of victims as well as recommendations for the improvement of Albanian anti-trafficking policies and legislation.

The findings and recommendations that Vatra has shared with the US Embassy in Tirana, the Council of Europe and Greta Group of Experts are considered important and many of them are reflected in the respective reports.

Vatra has contributed to the drafting of alternative and shadow reports on human trafficking issues for the implementation of the CEDAW Convention in Albania. These reports have been undertaken to be realized by partner organizations and networks.

As a member of several international networks such as: La Strada International, RENATE, Child 10, 2021 network of organizations, WAVE etc. Vatra has become an active part of advocacy initiatives undertaken by these networks, by offering its contribution and expertise in drafting reports, advocacy statements, input to specific laws, etc., regarding the improvement of policies at the European level in the field of human trafficking and gender-based violence and specifically in the protection of the rights of children, women and girls, victims of trafficking, sexual abuse and forced labor.

Vatra is invited to participate in Conferences organized by national and international organizations inside and outside the country during which it presents the situation of human trafficking and gender-based violence, national policies for the protection of victims in Albania, existing services in the country for this target group, challenges etc.

Studies and Research:

An important tool for advocacy that Vatra uses is also the implementation, publication and dissemination of studies, analyses and research, the findings and recommendations which are widely used not only by Vatra but also by other organizations and networks to advocate the Albanian government to improve the legislation and national policies.

During 2020-2022 Vatra has conducted 3 studies in the field of human trafficking and gender-based violence, which can be easily downloaded from the “Publications” section of its website.

1.     Study ” Compliance of the Albanian legal framework with the Acquis Communautaire of the European Union in the area of the fight against Trafficking in Human Beings”
2.     Study “Access and Quality of Services for Victims / Potential of Human Trafficking in Albania”
3.     Study “Access and Quality of Services for Victims of Gender-Based Violence in Albania”