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Serbia -OSCE Highlights the importance of regional co-operation to fight organized crime groups illegally smuggling asylum seekers

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office visits Belgrade, reiterates OSCE support in fight against organized crime exploiting migration crisis

Hungarian-Serbian border barrier 1

BELGRADE, – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz reiterated today in Belgrade the organization’s support to Serbia in building strong, independent, accountable and effective democratic institutions.

Kurz highlighted the importance of regional co-operation in the fight against organized crime groups illegally smuggling asylum seekers and migrants across borders.

“After the closure of the Balkan route, we should pursue our joint efforts in countering smuggling and exploitation of vulnerable persons by organized crime groups. The OSCE is a proven platform to that end. We will therefore continue to facilitate and support regional investigations into these criminal activities,” said Kurz.

Kurz attended a meeting of prosecutors and police officers from Bulgaria and Croatia with representatives of Serbia’s Task Force on Combating Human Smuggling, who exchange information on current investigations.

Kurz also delivered two off-road vehicles and IT equipment to the Serbian Task Force, donated by the OSCE Mission to Serbia with funds provided by Austria and Italy.

The Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Ambassador Andrea Orizio, referred to the OSCE Mission’s flexibility in assisting Serbia in responding to emerging challenges caused by migration. “We remain committed to supporting local and regional efforts and initiatives that aim to deter the exploitation of vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants by organized crime groups.”

The Serbian Task Force, established in April 2016, is an inter-agency body composed of police investigators and prosecutors from the Interior Ministry and the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office.

[Source: OSCE-Media Relations]

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