Milos Dordevic gave his presentation on the human rights implications of transnational organized crime on April 21, 2015. Mr. Dordevic first discussed the nature of transnational organized crime (TOC) in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world and the special challenges posed in combatting such crime. For example existing security paradigms, which have traditionally been constructed to address State-to-State security concerns, may be ill equipped adequately handle the unique problems created by modern TOC. Further, Mr. Dordevic, highlighted the ability of transnational criminal organizations to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and their reliance on technologies, which at times effectively allows such organizations to stay ahead of law enforcement efforts.
Mr. Dordevic then addressed specific TOCs and their impact on human rights. Specifically, Mr. Dordevic examined issues of human trafficking and smuggling, drug trafficking, and illegal transport and sales of small arms and light weapons. Mr. Dordevic focused on case studies of human trafficking in the Balkans for purposes of sexual exploitation. One of the victims, an infant, was abducted in Belgrade after the perpetrators had obtained a false Serbian passport with the child’s picture and tracked the girl’s family through her father’s Facebook profile. The other case study involved a young Bosnian Serb woman who was looking for employment and trafficked from Serbia to Slovenia to Macedonia, and finally to Pristina, Kosovo.
Each of these cases demonstrate some of the challenges that TOC poses for law enforcement officials who have to collaborate across State borders when dealing with TOC. The cases further highlighted the effects transnational organized crime can have on the rights of individual victims.
U of M Law School graduate and former Human Rights Fellow Tony Fernandes returned to the Human Rights Center to discuss his role as Director for Africa and Middle East Programs in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL/AME) at the U.S. Department of State. The agency assists local law enforcement agencies with transnational threats, including organized crime, human trafficking, and recently wildlife trafficking. His division works in around 30 countries. The INL/AME has built up a slate of capacity-building they can offer, but will only do so upon the partner nation’s request.
For example, his division has assisted the Tunisian security forces in their Arab spring transition. Through retraining, they moved away from being a symbol of the old regime by gaining the capability to handle demonstrations without lethal force. Such newfound restraint played a part in the general success of their most recent election.
When asked what inspired him to go into this line of work, Tony pointed to his own Fellowship in South Africa at the end of apartheid. It opened his eyes and fired his interest in human rights policy making. In the spirit of the Human Rights Fellowship, he has continued in public service from then until now.
Humphrey Fellow Lourens Grove is an attorney, lecturer, and clinician at the University of Pretoria Law Clinic in Pretoria, South Africa. He provides indigent populations with free legal services and acts as a mentor and instructor for law students at the university, as well as conducts research and manages specific projects. On April 14, Mr. Grove will lead a discussion about human rights in cyberspace. Mr. Grove will encourage us to consider how human rights standards apply to cyberspace, and how cyberspace interacts with human rights standards.