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Anthropological methods in counter -traIIicking activities.


Anthropological methods in counter-trafficking
activities: analysis of criminal networks and
victim-oriented approach

Desire Pangerc

1. A short introduction

In his article 'Toward a Critical Anthropology oI Security, Daniel M.
Goldstein (2010) attempts to explore the Iundamental relationships between
security discourse and practice, aIIirming the role anthropology can pl ay in
security debates, in order to analyze every crisis and every criminal
phenomenon in a comprehensive approach. Moreover, he points out how
collective security cannot be achieved without national security, by meaning
that this topic has a transnational dimension (Goldstein, 2010). So, it is clear
that migration Ilows are a security issue, considering their transnational
spread and the necessity to manage them through both international and
national measures. For these reasons, this reIlection is more valid Ior illegal
migrations, which are subdivided into smuggling of migrants and human
trafficking. And, as Elke Krahman (2005) points out, the new presence oI
non-State actors bring insecurity not only to States, but especially to
societies and individuals: this is the case oI global human trade.

Desiree Pangerc
2. The operational approach: description of the ~Italian model

In 2006, I started to regularly meet then-Anti-MaIia Prosecutor in
, Nicola Maria Pace. He introduced me to the thematic, starting
with explaining very clearly the diIIerence between smuggling and
trafficking. The second is deIined by Article 3, paragraph (a) oI the Protocol
to Prevent, Suppress and Punish TraIIicking in Persons (U.N. 2000) as:

'the recruitment, transportation, transIer, har boring or receipt oI
persons, by means oI the threat or use oI Iorce or other Iorms oI
coercion, oI abduction, oI Iraud, oI deception, oI the abuse oI power
or oI a position oI vulnerability or oI the giving or receiving oI
payments or beneIits to achieve the consent oI a person having
control over another person, Ior the purpose oI exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation oI the
prostitution oI others or other Iorms oI sexual exploitation, Iorced
labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or
the removal oI organs;

while migrants smuggling is considered by the Article 3 oI the
Smuggling oI Migrants Protocol as:
'procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a Iinancial or
other material beneIit, oI the illegal entry oI a person into a State
Party oI which the person is not a national or a permanent

My hometown, an Italian city at the border with Slovenia.
The Smuggling oI Migrants Protocol supplements the United Nations
Convention against Transnational Organized Cr ime.
(http:/ / unodc/ en/ human-traIIicking/ smuggling-oI-
Anthropological methods in counter -traIIicking activities.

that is only the illegal transports oI immigrants, especially Irom their
Country oI origin, through some Countries oI transit , to a Country oI
AIter this Iirst theoretical phase, the Prosecutor elucidated me the
characteristics oI the model adopted by his team and by a lot oI judicial
coordinating institution, i.e. EuroJust
. The 'Italian model, created,
veriIied and employed by him and his team, presents some particular
Ieatures, such as:

1. the diIIerentiation oI every Ilux oI immigrants Irom the others. The
diIIerentiation on ethnical bases showed that every criminal group works in
a diIIerent way, Irom the recruitment oI the victims to the modalities
through which they segregate them, once enslaved (Spiezia, Frezza, Pace,
2. the analysis oI criminal organizations in their transnational dimension,
comparing their structure to the one oI transnational holdings. As Jean
Ziegler (2000) clearly demonstrates in his researches, the new maIias are
characterized by: Iirst, a Iinancial and economical capitalistic structure
second, a military hierarchy, having every criminal organization its roots in
the extreme violence, being subject to capital accumulation, territorial
domination and conquest oI the markets, establishing command -obedience
relationships with authoritarian methods; third, they present an ethnical
structure (Ziegler, 2000) or they can create 'coalitions ad hoc, which are

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,
adopted by General Assembly resolution 55/ 25 oI 15 November 2000, is the main
international instrument in the Iight against transnational organized crime. It
opened Ior signature by Member States at a high-level Political ConIerence
convened Ior that purpose in Palermo, Italy, on 12-15 December 2000 and entered
into Iorce on 29 September 2003. The Convention is supplemented by three
Protocols: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish TraIIicking in Persons,
Especially Women and Children; the Protocol against the Smuggling oI Migrants by
Land, Sea and Air; and the Protocol against the Illicit ManuIacturing oI and
TraIIicking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition.
European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit, Iounded in 2002.
And the parameters are the maximization oI the proIit, a strong vertical control
and the goal oI highest productivity.
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temporary alliance to reach a speciIic/ some speciIic goal/ s (Boissevain,
1974, p. 171). These three characteristics exclude one another in everyday
liIe, but by interconnecting them, the criminal organizations obtain the
maximum level oI eIIectiveness;
3. to diversiIy the general phenomenon called 'traIIicking in human
beings in sub-phenomena, such as: traIIicking in women and minors Ior
sexual exploitation; traIIicking in men, women and minors Ior labor
exploitation; the issue regarding the argati or minors 'in leasing this is a
very peculiar crime, present mainly in some Roma ethnic groups, where the
Iamily sells his sons to a gazda, an owner, as slaves Ior a certain period
(Pangerc, 2012 b); human organs trade; illegal adop tions; money
laundering, obviously connected to all the previous illicit activities.
AIter being prepared on the legal and operative Iramework by the
Prosecutor, I spent two years between 2006 and 2008 completing my
training by working at the Coordination Center Ior Immigrants`
Communities and Associations in Trieste as Project Manager and
Researcher, in a Anti-Violence center as a social operator and researcher too,
and by Iollowing some judicial cooperation initiatives most oI them
carried on by UNICRI
in Slovenia and Croatia. AIter that period oI
researches and collections oI smuggled and traIIicked people`s interviews, I
thought I was ready to start my Iieldwork in the Balkans, by Iollowing that
route which arrives in Italy, passing through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia
Herzegovina and other Countries

UNICRI is a United Nations entity mandated to assist intergovernmental,
governmental and non-governmental organizations in Iormulating and
implementing improved policies in the Iield oI crime prevention and criminal
justice (link http:/ / ).
This part oI my essay was presented at the Conference Anthropology in the World,
organized by the Royal Anthropological Institute oI Great Britain and Ireland in
June 2012.
Anthropological methods in counter -traIIicking activities.


Source: Italian Ministry oI Interior. The routes oI illegal migrations.

When my Iieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina started, I decided to
stop there because human trafficking was managed by the criminal
organization, but also by other actors, in a diIIerent way (Pangerc, 2012 b).

3. Obstacles and problems on the field

In September 2008, I arrived in Sarajevo and I was oIIicially employed
as a Programme OIIicer Ior the Local Technical Unit oI t he Italian Embassy
there. My work consisted in preparing Ieasibility studies, evaluating Italian
cooperation initiatives and monitoring them. Moreover, I Iollowed as a
consultant our project concerning the justice system and the protection oI
the vulnerable social groups, in this case women and minors.
I have to provide you some inIormation about Bosnia and Herzegovina,
beIore entering the topic. The political situation oI the Country is deeply
complex: aIter the conIlict oI 1992-1995, the Dayton General Framework
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Agreement Ior Peace (Belloni, 2001), which main purpose was to end the
war, established an administrative and political division into two Entities,
the Federation oI Bosnia Herzegovina Iormed by 51 oI the territory,
largely constituted by Bosniaks
and Croats and Republika Srpska 49
oI the territory, primarily Serb
. This arbitrary division had a very negative
aspect, that is the crystallization oI ethnic
(?) identities, and the
impossibility oI integration between the three groups (BileIski, 2008): the
lack oI consensus Irom a bottom-up approach created the premises Ior a
'Iailed State (Thuerer, 1999), de facto a non-autonomous State, with a
corrupted government and dependent on the presence oI International
Community, but, what is worst, oI the hidden lobbies and organized crime.

Bosniaks are Sunni Muslim, although historically SuIism has also played a
signiIicant role among them.
Plus the District oI Brc ko, a sort oI condominium between the FBiH and the RS,
and under the control oI the Steering Board oI the Peace Implementation Council
till the 31
oI August 2012. ( en/ article/ bosnia-s-peace-
I am quite cautious when I say that Bosnia and Herzegovina has three ethnic
groups; In anthropologically terms, this is not correct. In the Country we have two
nationalities (Serbs and Croats) and the Bosnian muslims ( connoted by r eligion).
Anthropological methods in counter -traIIicking activities.


Source: Administrative map oI Bosnia and Herzegovina.

So, once there, my Iieldwork began, but when I met one oI the most
experts in human traIIicking, operating there Ior one Cooperation Agency,
he quickly stopped my introduction, in order to reply: 'But there is no
human trafficking here. Have you read the TIP
report? Bosnia and

The TraIIicking in Persons Report is the U.S. Government`s principal diplomatic
tool to engage Ioreign governments on human traIIicking.
( j/ tip/ rls/ tiprpt/ ).
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Herzegovina was promoted, the Country is in the II Tier: its government
made great eIIorts in Iighting human trafficking and was successIul.
In the past BiH has generally assessed as a Country oI transit and
destination Ior victims especially women Irom Eastern Europe (OSCE
Report, 2009). With a lot oI operative measures to control the borders and
with the key-role perIormed by the International Police Task Force till 2003,
the procedures to smuggle the victims in and out oI the borders were too
risky Ior the criminal organizations, so the external traIIicking came to an
end (Pangerc, 2012) and this is demonstrated by statistics. But Alain Bauer,
the French criminologist, reminded me Benjamin Disraeli`s words:

'There are three kinds oI lies: the big lies, the small lies.and the

And I agreed with him, because Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a
Country where this human right violation is present, even though statistics
are not useIul to identiIy the social evil.
Another meeting, another anthropological dilemma just at the
beginning oI my Iieldwork: when I met the assistant oI the State
Coordinator Ior Counter-TraIIicking in BiH
, she told me: 'You ask me
how organized crime operates here, but I have to tell you that only two local
mafiosi traIIicked in human beings, Milakovic who operated in Prijedor
in the past and now Kuc evic who operated in Tuzla. Kuc evic was
convicted in 2009, while I was in Sarajevo. But the local newspapers
continuously reported cases oI traIIicked people and the State Coordinator`s
staII explained me that the situation got worse, because people were
traIIicked by non-local criminal organizations but and this shocked me
also by Bosnian Iamilies. 'They are poor, they lost their jobs: they collect
some money and they buy one or two girls to Iorce them into prostitution in
their Ilats or houses, the Samir Rizvo`s assistant continued, 'the NGOs
continues to ask the Donors Community Ior money to Iinance shelters,

This Iigure was included in the Stability Pact and the OIIice was created in 2003.
The National OIIicer or State Coordinator is always the Assistant oI the Minister oI
Security. At that time, Samir Rizvo was in charge oI the OIIice.
Anthropological methods in counter -traIIicking activities.

rehabilitation activities and so on and we have to manage all these
To sum up, during the Iirst months oI my researches in Bosnia and
Herzegovina I Iound that: local maIia was no more involved in human
trafficking business; there were no more data on external human trafficking, so
the institutions supposed it was successIully stopped; the Country, divided
into two Entities and a District, had three anti-traIIicking legislations plus
one common Strategy, which was not applied because oI the political
unwillingness to cooperate; the perception oI the phenomenon Irom the
civil society was that it was 'just a simple business and not a crime. The
'Italian model was not useIul to investigate human traIIicking in that
context and in those years, so I had to change my strategy.

4. A different way to proceed: social networks creation and actor-oriented

First oI all, to continue my work I decided to collect Iacts and not data.
Anthropology deals with social Iacts and human traIIicking in Bosnia and
Herzegovina is deIinitely a social Iact. Secondly, I adopted an actor -oriented
approach (Long, 2001), by dividing the network oI my inIormants into three
levels; an inIormal one, Iormed by common people; an operative one,
Iormed by experts Irom Mission EUFOR ALTHEA
and EUPM
, local
police, social operators Irom NGOs; Iinally, an institutional one, Iormed by
the representatives oI the Embassies, the International Organizations and
the Development Agencies.
What I discovered was that in the last couple oI years, the Country has
been increasingly starting to Iace a new Iorm oI human traIIicking, whereby
Bosnian women and minors (minors especially Irom Roma communities)

Interview 'Who traIIicks whom: 'Just people, not maIia.Only because it`s a
Iast and easy way to make money. There are only two trials regarding mafiosi
involved in this type oI traIIicking: Milakovic in the past and now Kuc evic who
operated in Tuzla. But you cannot imagine: we discovered a traIIicking oI young
women managed by a mother and her son. (OSCE inIormant)
The EU military operation in BiH, launched in December 2002.
The European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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are being recruited and exploited within its borders. This internal traIIicking
'is harder as we can only Iind out about by special intelligence and surprise
raids, both requiring a lot oI resources and impossible to keep up as a
standard approach, an investigator noted (Savona and SteIanizzi, 2007, p.
18). And they were enslaved more and more oIten by common people and
not criminal groups.
As to the statistics mostly provided by the NGOs , the number oI
identiIied victims oI traIIicking in human beings Ior the purpose oI sexual
exploitation stagnated since 2003. However, in 2007, although the number
oI identiIied victims oI traIIicking in human beings Ior the purpose oI
sexual exploitation was the lowest since this phenomenon has been
monitored systematically, the number oI citizens oI Bosnia and
Herzegovina who have been identiIied as victims oI traIIicking in human
beings Ior the purpose oI sexual exploitation within its borders, Ior the Iirst
time exceeded the number oI identiIied Ioreign victims oI traIIicking in
human beings. The 44 oI the total identiIied victims are minors, all Irom
BiH (OSCE Report, 2009): the number oI children that are working on the
streets is constantly rising, due to a lack oI eIIicient mechanism oI protection
by relevant institutions, particularly among minority groups, such as Roma
as I said beIore
According to my inIormants and my researches, in Bosnia and
Herzegovina human traIIicking is perceived 'like a simple business Ior
normal people, both Ior the victims and Ior the criminals; there is a huge
internal dimension oI human traIIicking; the victims are no more smuggled,
so they are recruited among the Bosnian citizens; Iinally, there is still a
scarce involvement oI the civil society and no inIormation on what the
Institutions do to coun

As I have already underlined, some parts oI my essay were presented at the
ConIerence Anthropology in the World, organized by the Royal Anthropological
Institute oI Great Britain and Ireland in June 2012.
Anthropological methods in counter -traIIicking activities.

5. Some conclusive considerations

As I tried to prove in my article, the common perception in BiH as well
in the majority oI the Eastern Europe Countries is that human trafficking is
just a 'business and not a crime against humanity. So the main challenge is
to change this wrong perception and to work on raising awareness among
civil society. Moreover, it is very important to Iocus on the victim status,
because victims are Iundamental as witnesses during the trials against the
criminals and they need protection (IOM, 2007).
As Jo Goodey says (2004), the treatment oI traIIicked women as victims
oI crime and their treatment as criminal justice inIormants are diIIerent
between EU Member States and not EU Member States and this clearly
constitutes a very big problem.

'It is very hard to identiIy a victim who does not co-operate or, as
oIten happens, denies his/ her status, does not accept our view oI
him/ her as a potential or real victim |.|. It is also clear that iI the
victim role is not beneIicial to the presumed victim, he/ she will have
no reason to come to us |.|

The weak legal status oI the victims in the legislations oI most nation
states contributes to their reluctance to report the crimes and to co-operate
with authorities during the investigation and court proceedings (Savona
and SteIanizzi, 2007, p. 20).
So, by working on crime perception and through an actor -oriented
approach, my conclusions are as Iollows: Iirst, the International Community
and the local government should continue to work on raising awareness
among civil society and on prevention campaigns in cooperation with the
local NGOs; second, the Iunded project should provide a speciIic vocational
training both Ior the local police and the social operators, in order to ensure
the success oI the operations and, aIter that, the collaboration oI the victims;
Iinally, a more systematic coordination between institutional, judicial and
social actors would allow to cut expenses Ior small projects and to channel

Report Irom Finnish Police, 2006.
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resources Ior an eIIective long-term strategy in counter-traIIicking (Pangerc,
As we are analyzing a crime but also a social phenomenon Irom an
emic perspective, we will see changes only in a medium long-term period,
but I hope that this contribution showed you some concrete premises to
deepen the analysis and to try to Iind other solutions, also with the help oI
the social sciences, especially anthropology.

Anthropological methods in counter -traIIicking activities.


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Desiree Pangerc
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