European Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings

LSI history

How we started

La Strada was launched in 1995 as a result of a trilateral anti-trafficking project. By 2001, it had grown into a network of nine members, all based in Europe. The tri-lateral project began in 1994 on the initiative of three NGOs from the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic. They organised a joint training seminar to exchange information, knowledge and experience and to develop prevention activities and support services for women who had been trafficked and returned home, either because they wanted to go back or because they were deported from Western Europe. This seminar led to the first La Strada project 'Prevention of the Trafficking of Women in Central and Eastern Europe', which started in September 1995 and was financed under the PHARE Programme of the European Commission. In 1997 and 1998, new partners from Ukraine and Bulgaria joined the programme, followed in 2001 by Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova and Macedonia. In 2012 the General Assembly of La Strada International decided to stop the membership of La Strada Bosnia and Herzegovina, see the announcement.

All members recognise the statutes of the International La Strada Association and subscribe to the Mission Statement, Code of Conduct and core principles of La Strada. Members must be committed to actively participate in the network and contribute to its further development, as well as being able and willing to bear financial responsibility for common projects. La Strada members further work according to the same basic programme. However, the exact services which are offered can vary, depending on the local situation.

To ensure a gradual expansion of the network without overstretching its capacity, each new member was nominated by an old member according to a number of membership criteria: the new member had to be established in a neighbouring country, a joint pilot project had been successfully carried out, there had to be an existing NGO that was able and willing to carry out the La Strada programme and there had to be an urgent need for such a programme in the country. At its general assembly meeting in May 2009, the network decided that La Strada currently will not accept new members.

After having functioned for nine years as a joint programme and network, coordinated by the former Dutch Foundation against Trafficking in Women (Stichting tegen Vrouwenhandel) - now the Coordination Centre Human Trafficking (CoMensha) - La Strada was officially established in October 2004 as an independent international association with a secretariat based in Amsterdam.

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