Calendar of Events - March, 2023


Experts from 13 countries meet at the HESTIA Project conference

On 14 – 15 November, 2016 Riga hosted an international conference “Exploitative Sham Marriages: Exploring the Links between Trafficking in Human Beings and Sham Marriages” where findings and best practise acquired during the implementation of the HESTIA Project “Preventing human trafficking and sham marriages: A multidisciplinary solution” were presented and shared. In total 60 experts representing various professional anti-trafficking areas from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, the Slovak Republic, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Norway and the Council of the Baltic Sea States participated.

“A lot of discussions are taking place on issues related to trafficking in human beings, about trauma and negative consequences for victims and society resulting from this criminal offence, as well as profits which traffickers, recruiters and users gain and enormous daily counter-trafficking work implemented to reduce trafficking in human beings. Statistical data confirms that trafficking in human beings does not reduce, a number of victims increase every year. New forms of exploitation has been identified which are very complicated to recognize and identify. Exploitative sham marriages is one of such forms of trafficking in human beings. It is no more a new phenomenon, but it is a phenomenon which is named by the team of the HESTIA Project. Organizers of the conference have prepared a comprehensive Agenda of the conference which is based on the first research done in the European Union about trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sham marriages as well as practise of public institutions and non-governmental organizations to identify such cases and victims of exploitation” highlighted Mr Rihards Kozlovskis, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia in his conference opening speech. “Our presence at this conference is an acknowledgement for our joint goal – to address trafficking in human beings, convict perpetrators, identify and assist victims of trafficking in human beings.”

During two days of the conference eight speakers from the Member States of the European Union – officials of public institutions and law enforcement agencies, researchers and representatives of non-governmental organization did presentations. Agenda<<

Minna Viuhko, HESTIA Project Coordinator in Finland and Project Researcher, Researcher of the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) – presentation "Happily ever after? From sham marriages to human trafficking"<<

Sandra Zalcmane, HESTIA Project LV Expert in development of training methodology and materials, NGO “Shelter “Safe House”” (Latvia), Head of Board – presentation "Training methodology and materials “Reduction of Exploitative Sham Marriages: Training for Trainers Training”"<<

Catherine Cosgrave, HESTIA Project Legal Expert/ Research/Training, NGO “Immigrant Council of Ireland”, Legal Service Manager – presentation "Regulating sham marriage and trafficking: the experience of Ireland"<<

Sirle Blumberg, HESTIA Project Coordinator in Estonia, NGO Living for Tomorrow, Head of Board – presentation "Challenges of understanding sham marriages connections with human trafficking"<<

Monica O’Connor, Independent Researcher, Ireland - presentation "The targeting of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation: the intersection of sham marriage and trafficking"<<

Stephen Courage, Detective Superintendent, An Garda Siochana, Ireland – presentation "The response of An Garda Siochana (Irish Police) to sham marriages"<<

Tania Charalambidou, Administrative Officer, Directorate of Migration, Asylum and European Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Republic of Cyprus – presentation ""Βrides-to-be” as victims of human trafficking: Challenges and the importance of coordination between public services"<<

Jeļena Kaminska, Prosecutor, Organized Crime and Other Branches Specialized Prosecutors Office, General Prosecutor’s Office, Latvia – presentation "Sham Marriages as a Form of Trafficking in Human Beings"<<

Adriana Šteruská, Investigator of the Police Corps, The National Unit of Combating Illegal Migration of the Bureau of Border and Alien Police of the Police Force Presidium, the Slovak Republic – presentation "Forced Marriages"<<

Karolis Žibas, NGO “Caritas Lithuania”, Researcher, HESTIA Project Researcher in Lithuania – presentation "Human trafficking in Lithuania: from new forms of exploitation to recent political developments"<<

Manuel Albano, National Rapporteur – Trafficking in Human Beings, Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality, Presidency of the Council of Ministers - presentation "The Portuguese Model in Combating Human Trafficking"<<

During the opening of the conference Mr Kozlovskis presented the award “Goda raksts” of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia to Ms Vija Buša, Advisor of the Planning Group of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, a former Advisor at the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in Ireland for her exceptional commitment to provide interests and needs of Latvian citizens who had become victims of trafficking in human beings in Ireland, provision of efficient inter-institutional cooperation and making topical an issue of sham marriages which had provided grounds for implementation of the HESTIA Project.

A Manager of the HESTIA Project, National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Ms Lāsma Stabiņa informed that findings from the HESTIA Project will be presented at the meeting of the Informal EU Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREMs) and the meeting of Working Party on General Matters, including Evaluations (GENVAL) which will be held in Brussels, Belgium. L.Stabiņa highlighted: “We are planning to approach the EU Member States, the Council and the Commission that strong political will and commitment are needed to address the phenomenon of exploitative sham marriages at the whole European Union. Exploitative sham marriages is a challenge of the present time which cannot be ignored. Targeted decisions and actions should be taken to criminalize exploitative sham marriages as a form of trafficking in human beings, strengthen institutional capacity and resources to recognize such cases, provide help, assistance and measures of protection to victims, bring to trial those who benefit from the exploitation of individuals and stop flourishing of this criminal business and gaining of illegal profits.”

Project deliverables:


Methodical material: Reduction of Exploitative Sham Marriages: Training for Trainers Training

*The Project is coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior (Latvia). Project partners: NGO "Shelter ‘Safe House’" (Latvia), NGO "Living for Tomorrow" (Estonia); NGO "Caritas Lithuania" (Lithuania); Immigrant Council of Ireland (Ireland); Ministry of the Interior of Slovak Republic (Slovakia); European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control of the United Nations (HEUNI) (Finland). Associated Project partners: The State Police (Latvia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Latvia), Department of Justice and Equality (Ireland).

The "Preventing human trafficking and sham marriages: A multidisciplinary solution" (HESTIA) project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Grant Agreement No. HOME/2013/ISEC/AG/THB/4000005845. The implementation of the HESTIA project was started on 1 January 2015 and will continue until 31 December 2016. #HESTIA_THB

Information prepared by: Rasa Saliņa, Public Relations Specialist of the HESTIA project, e-mail: