ASTANA -- The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held a live-action exercise September 24-30 in Kazakhstan on countering human trafficking, complete with actors and simulated environments.
"More than 50 professionals from law enforcement, labour inspectorates, financial investigative units, prosecutorial offices, NGOs and social services" from 14 OSCE partners and members took part in the week-long simulation in Koshi, Akmola Province, said the OSCE in a statement.
"By gathering experts from different fields, including financial investigation units, social and migration services, lawyers and NGOs, we are working toward bringing together a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary network of professionals across the OSCE region," Valiant Richey, OSCE acting co-ordinator for combating trafficking in human beings, said in the statement.
"Our simulation exercises are realistic, practical and cross-dimensional to effectively enhance participating states' ability to identify victims, investigate suspected trafficking cases, and prosecute exploiters and perpetrators," he said.
This training is part of the OSCE's efforts to facilitate "better identification and assistance of trafficking victims through a new, multi-national and cross-sectoral approach", the statement said.
"International co-operation is extremely important," Kazakh Deputy Prosecutor General Andrey Lukin said in the statement.
"The efficiency of the anti-trafficking response depends on the co-ordinated and coherent work of practitioners from different countries," he said. "The goal of this simulation training, involving participants from 14 countries, is to rally all of us and to unite our efforts to combat this crime."
Simulating real-life anti-trafficking responses
The live-action training focused on how to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking, according to project organisers.
"This innovative course is being held in Russian for the first time and [models] measures to fight human trafficking," Asel Karatayeva, a programme assistant with the military-political department of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, told Caravanserai.
"The exercises involve professional actors and actual stories of human trafficking," she said.
The exercise re-created brothels, a construction site and a farm field to recreate cases of labour and sexual exploitation, including of child victims. Frontline responders were able to "simulate real-life anti-trafficking responses", said the OSCE in its statement.
"The idea of [such anti-trafficking live-action training] in this format came from the OSCE," Diana Digol, deputy head of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, told Caravanserai.
Previous OSCE exercises to combat human trafficking took place in Vicenza, Italy, most recently in January.
Those previous courses have impressed participants like Italian Public Prosecutor David Mancini, who praised the new approach as "truly unique" and producing "genuinely extraordinary" results, according to the OSCE.
"The border between reality and simulation becomes increasingly blurred for all participants," Mancini said.