The project has two research focuses. The first project research focus is human trafficking, modern age slavery that has been condemned by the ECHR as a gross human rights violation. The number of those identified as victims in Croatia remains low (around 10 victims annually in a last few years). However, there is no dispute that the dark number in this field is significant. This could be explained by the structural deficiencies of national anti-trafficking policies and disregard of research and multidisciplinary approach in addressing three key priority areas – that of prevention, protection of victims, and prosecution of perpetrators. The need for the research based policies is indispensible for Croatia as a new EU member state that has been under the risk of turning into a country of destination for victims from the Western Balkan countries as well as from the countries either affected from internal instabilities and conflicts (e.g. Syria) or from the African countries (e.g. Nigeria). Therefore, the aim of this project is to contribute, through establishment of fully operational informal network of experts from different disciplines, in promoting research based policies and to provide support for establishment of National Rapporteur on THB (this is an obligation under the Directive 2011/36/EU that still has not been fully implemented by Croatia).
The second research focus is corruption and economic crime, major obstacles for further development of society stretched between systemic dysfunctions characteristic for transition period and the rule of law standards formally accepted through the process of European integration. Informal network of experts will address the issues of liability of legal persons for corruption and economic criminal offences, shortcomings in legislation and case law, legislation that regulate access to information etc. Economic crimes that result in substantial loss of profit and are not prosecuted can have a major effect on overall economy, society and rule of law, the latter being particularly evident in transitional societies. Moreover, impunity for economic crimes sometimes reinforces impunity for gross violation of human rights, especially in war-torn societies. Corruption is the major obstacle for further development of societies stretched between systemic dysfunctions characteristic for transition period and the rule of law standards formally accepted through the process of European integration. Despite of adopting formal standards as well as legal framework to suppress various corruption related criminal offences (repressive tools), Croatia still falls short in terms of strengthening non-repressive institutions and strategies capable to prevent different forms of corruption. Non-repressive approach based on research has been virtually non-existent. In this regard, Croatia is not in full conformity with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (hereinafter: UNCAC) that calls upon the Parties to ensure “the existence of a body or bodies, as appropriate that prevent corruption by such means as, inter alia, increasing and disseminating knowledge about the prevention of corruption.” Therefore, the very idea behind establishment of this research cluster is to fill these gaps and to provide multidisciplinary expertise on the issues that are crucial for the future of the Croatian society.