Timor-Leste has been identified as an international destination country for female victims of sex trafficking from other Asian countries, and as a potential origin country. There is also evidence of domestic trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. Even in the midst of the challenges created by the crisis, Timor-Leste has started to address trafficking issues.
HELP – Halt Exploitation, Learn to Prosecute
The ‘Halt Exploitation, Learn to Prosecute’ Project (HELP) was funded by the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. It combines IOM’s worldwide trafficking expertise and experience in Timor-Leste with the extensive field experience and local knowledge of the Alola Foundation staff in relation to gender and trafficking issues.
The joint project was developed with the technical assistant from IOM, and has 3 components - Raise Awareness, Capacity Building to Government and Civil Society, and Skill Transfer to Alola Staff. To raise awareness about the problem of trafficking, campaign materials (posters, t-shirts, leaflets) were designed and distributed through the District Support Worker network, National Vulnerable Persons Unit, Department of Immigration and other NGOs. Meetings were held with journalists, students and in IDP camps about human trafficking.
As part of the Capacity Building to Government component, training was provided to 32 district police officers, and a workshop was held for 52 government, law enforcement and civil society representatives. This workshop provided an overview of human trafficking issues in Timor-Leste and the region, aiming to map current victim support services, develop a framework and operational agreements to combat human trafficking, and provided training on trafficking.
In addition, 3-day training was given to NGOs and embassies staff on the return and reintegration of the victims of trafficking. IOM and Alola established mechanisms to maximize the transfer of skills from IOM experts to Alola staff through a mentoring system and the DSW monthly trainings.