Milos Dordevic, Republic of Serbia, 2014
It was a great privilege to find out that I was selected to be a 2014/2015 Humphrey Fellow at the University of Minnesota, to be given the opportunity to upgrade and develop skills and knowledge in the field of Human Rights and the Rule of Law. As a mid-career Senior Criminal Investigator of the Serbian Ministry of Interior, Criminal Investigations Department, I was impatiently awaiting to meet many counterparts from the USA and all over the world and to learn new things from my professional field. From the very first day of my arrival to Minnesota, I knew that my Humphrey year would be much more than what I enthusiastically expected. For every Humphrey Fellow, it is an individual experience and impression, but I believe that, universally, the Humphrey Fellowship is not just a professional, but also a personal and cultural life changing experience. After the Humphrey year, we all go back to our homes with warm hearts and definitely different in a good way: stronger, empowered, determined and ready to make and influence changes towards creating a better life and more resilient communities that we belong to.
Human trafficking, as the highest violation of human rights is a challenge for every country and every society. Republic of Serbia was and is addressing this challenge with the highest attention and priority through implementation of multidimensional reforms and highest legislative and systemic measures to tackle this problem in the most adequate and sustainable manner. My Humphrey year brought me endless opportunities to learn and gain insight about the systemic response to Human Trafficking which is successfully and comprehensively established in the United States. I was able to connect an learn from counterparts from the state of Minnesota, Arizona, New York etc. such as Minneapolis police department, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and many more. However, what I found highly valuable and somewhat new for me was the importance and role of civil (non-governmental) and private sector in fight against Human Trafficking. I was able to observe a strong multi-sector system in which civil, private and governmental organizations, together with academic institutions, like the University of Minnesota and other think tank capacities, strongly collaborate in fight against Human Trafficking. Multidimensional approach is something that is necessary in my country to address this problem successfully and after intensive Humphrey year of trainings, academic courses, conferences, seminars and practical work on the field, I was able to bring home fresh mindset, knowledge and reflections that contributed to the overall systemic changes and efforts of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia to create sustainable multidimensional network for fight against human trafficking in Serbia and internationally.
What impressed me the most while I was in the United States was not only the openness of the entire system, to allow and help Humphrey fellows to learn and absorb all the knowledge and best experiences, but it was also a strong desire and willingness to hear stories from our countries, our own experiences and our professional and individual struggles to make our communities better. In that regard, I had the honor and privilege to give presentations about Serbian experience in fight against Human Trafficking and overall Human Rights dimension of fight against crime in my country and beyond. I was talking and presenting to students and wider community and academia at the University of Minnesota Law School, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and much more. I was also privileged to be selected to speak and lecture about Human rights and Human Trafficking in front of the students, social workers, professionals and community members at Maricopa County Community Colleges in Arizona, specifically Scottsdale Community College and Mesa Community College. Following that, I was selected to speak at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Further list of the conferences, seminars, meetings, trainings, lectures and other invaluable events and programs that I participated would be endless so I will just conclude that every day as a Humphrey fellow at the University of Minnesota brought some added value and new ideas to my personal and professional mindset.
I was lucky, after successfully completing Humphrey year at the University of Minnesota, to to be recognized in my country and at my work as a professional who brought rich knowledge and fresh ideas and experiences back home. I focused professionally more thoroughly on fight against Human Trafficking and was able to implement many useful lessons learned to my daily work of a criminal investigator. I was invited to join and I spent almost a year at the Service for Combating organized Crime in the Police Directorate, Department for fight against human trafficking and human smuggling where I was able to sharpen my experience and knowledge in regard to special investigative measures. During that period, I was also able to implement my knowledge and perspectives brought as a Humphrey fellow, on a strategic and policy making level of my Ministry, especially in the field of the European Union integrations of the Republic of Serbia, negotiating chapter 24 (Justice, freedom and security) which are strongly supported by the United States. Following that, since the beginning of 2018, I am actively engaged as a Independent Criminal investigator - Police Captain at the Operational Police Task Force for Combating Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling in the city of Nis in Southern Serbia, focusing strongly on implementation of the principles of pro-active investigations, preventive activities and very importantly, cooperation with the civil – nongovernmental and private sector in fight against Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling. Networking, connections and friendships which I brought back home as a Humphrey Fellow, brought me many new opportunities on an international level, both through collaboration with my counterparts from the US and all over the world as well as through creating new ideas for further networking, developing projects and creative ideas for solving the problems and challenges of our countries, regions and much beyond.