Discussing the role of independent National Rapporteurs in enhancing States’ anti-trafficking responses

The OSCE held an expert roundtable discussion on the role of independent National Rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms in enhancing States’ anti-trafficking responses on 21 July 2021.  The event was organized in partnership with the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Experts from all across the OSCE area were invited to share their experiences and discuss the role of independent National Rapporteurs in enhancing States’ anti-trafficking responses.

The event highlighted how National Anti-trafficking Rapporteurs are one of the three main pillars of a strong, transparent and efficient State anti-trafficking architecture, together with multi-agency Task Forces and National Co-ordinators. Participants underscored the importance of establishing a National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanism to ensure data collection, as well as research and analysis of the trafficking situation and hidden trends in a State. Reports from the National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanism should be used to revise, adapt and re-target national anti-trafficking practices and policies and improve legislation and operations. Existence of such a mechanism was identified as a key means to improve the effectiveness of an anti-trafficking policy and practice.

OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Valiant Richey and UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton opened the meeting and led the discussions. Participants included Siobhán Mullally, UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Tomoya Obokata, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, and National Rapporteurs from across the OSCE area.

“I recommend that States establish an independent National Rapporteur or an equivalent mechanism as part of their anti-trafficking framework and ensure clear delineation and complementarity of the roles and responsibilities with the National Anti-Trafficking Co-ordinators,” said Valiant Richey. The activities of a National Rapporteur should be appropriately resourced and can be instrumental in revising and improving States’ anti-trafficking frameworks and operations.”

Dame Sara Thornton said: “In my role as Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, I have a UK-wide remit to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of modern slavery and human trafficking offences, as set out in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The independent nature of the role is central to the efficacy of the office, and I always endeavour to listen carefully and to take an evidence- and data-based approach. This event provided a significant opportunity to foster international engagement, discuss common challenges and promulgate good practice as we work towards a common goal.”

Highlights from the discussion will be compiled in a report and will serve as a basis for policy recommendations to OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation.

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