Protecting the right to privacy and data confidentiality of victims of human trafficking

Protecting the right to privacy and data confidentiality of victims of human trafficking

A consultation meeting on specific steps and agreement regarding protecting the right to privacy and data confidentiality of victims of human trafficking, took place on November 26 from 12:00 to 14:00. The meeting was held as a part of a joint project “Reclaiming Privacy: A Tool to Fight Oppression“ that has been implemented jointly by organizations Partners for Democratic Changes Serbia, Citizens’ Association Atina, A11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights, Share Foundation, Belgrade Open School and Da se zna, with the support of European Union. This was the third consecutive meeting of this format, i.e. panel discussions organized with representatives of institutions and civil society organizations. Previous two meetings had been organized with the representatives of local institutions from the cities and municipalities from the South and the North of Serbia, end of June 2021.  

In participation were representatives of the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office (Tamara Mirovic), Ministry of Interior – National Office for Coordination of Activities in Combating Trafficking in Human Beings  (Mitar Djuraskovic), Ombudsman (Jelena Stojanovic and Nevena Nikolic), The office of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection (Zlatko Petrovic), Ministry of Culture and Information (Dragica Blagojevic), the Center for Protection of the Victims of Human Trafficking (Miroslav Jovanovic), i Saveta za štampu (Gordana Novakovic and representatives of the organization Partners for Democratic Changers Serbia (Ana Toskic, Kristina Kalajdzic and Milica Tosic and Citizens Association Atina (Milan Aleksic, Andrijana Radoicic Nedeljkovic and  Jelena Hrnjak). The meeting objective was to agree on specific steps in proceeding, with regards to existing practice of the authorizes stakeholders pertaining to the protection of the right to privacy of the victims of human trafficking, therefore it was necessary to come up with recommendations for improving those protections.  

Some of the key recommendations from this meeting are to provide as many trainings as possible tailored to media and representatives of authorized entities; to engage media representatives in existing trainings on human trafficking and approach to victims; to continually enhance cooperation between media and non-governmental organizations, and make it diverse; to enable information flow in accordance with the Law; to insist on the amendments of the Court’s Rules of Procedure in line with the recommendations of  the Ombudsman, in order to prevent revealing data on persons and particularly sensitive data of victims by publicizing sentences; to improve capacities of attorneys, proxies, legal representatives and prosecutors to initiate and insist on closing overall flow of proceeding for the public pertaining particularly sensitive witnesses – victims of violence; to conduct trainings with judges and prosecutors with an effort to empower and maintain the principles of fairness and justice, to also respect the rights of the victims  (multisectoral trainings); to compile a list of experts from the civil sector that deal with the following issues: protecting the right to privacy and data confidentiality of the victims of human trafficking and victims of other forms of violence, experts on gender-based violence, protection of children; and send the list to the media so that they have appropriate counterparts that can get the message across on the phenomenon in the right manner; to initiate amendments and addenda to the Law, in particular to the Criminal Code, that pertain to introducing appropriate sanctions for felony and misdemeanor that have been nonexistent so far; to insist on organizing human trafficking victim data processing and archiving by respecting ethical and legislative principles that pertain to managing these data; to support and strengthen capacities of republic and supervisory entities and secretariats to implement continuous monitoring and accountability; to define a category for particularly sensitive data and the manner of their managing and processing; to consistently respect existing Laws regarding personal data protection, by all stakeholders, not only institutions, but also media; to provide and monitor enforcement of the decisions of the Press Council; as well as to invite and engage Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media in future meetings, due to their authority, so that further steps are defined jointly with them.

Continuation of these activities is expected on January 24 starting at 13:30 as a part of the Data Privacy Week when during the panel on this issue, further solutions will be discussed that could be created in this area to enhance protection of the right to privacy and data confidentiality of victims of human trafficking.

Below are Marija Piroshki pictures from this meeting.