Transnational Referral Mechanism of the Baltic Sea Region

This Transnational Referral Mechanism (TRM) of the Baltic Sea Region, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine has been created by the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB). It was developed in the framework of the transnational project “Paving the Way for the Harmonized Operational Framework in the Baltic Sea Region” (HOF-BSR).

The project is financed by the Government Offices of Sweden and the Swedish Institute.

Why do we need a TRM?

​As Human Trafficking is a cross-border crime of global nature cooperation and partnership is one of the basic pillars of anti trafficking work. In order to counteract this crime, and to assist exploited people, authorities need to increase and strengthen their cooperation with counterparts in other countries. The Baltic Sea Region contains countries of origin, destination and transit which makes cross-border cooperation even more crucial. The ones in the BSR most likely to be identified as presumed victims of THB are vulnerable persons from impoverished socio-economic backgrounds, third country nationals and minorities. These people might originate from a country in the Baltic Sea Region or Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine, as these have lately become the main countries of origin for victims of human trafficking in this region. For these particular reasons Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine are included in the TRM of the Baltic Sea Region.

In cases of transnational trafficking, victims are often transferred from an assistance system in a country of destination to another system in a country of origin. If these systems do not complement each other and the transition is not smooth, the person is at higher risk of being re-trafficked. It has been observed that the same victims are exploited in several countries of the BSR and sometimes subjected to human trafficking for multiple forms of exploitation. In this complex reality, structured and efficient cross-border cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region is not something that should be viewed as a preferred practice, it is rather a central method in order to combat trafficking and protect victims.