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Anti-trafficking Day

October 18, 2010

Source: Beta, Tanjug

Belgrade – “Fight against Human Trafficking in the Republic of Serbia” – Conference held in the Serbian Parliament to commemorate the European Anti-trafficking day.

It is the first event which is dedicated to combating trafficking in human beings where Serbian Parliament took part as a host and co-organizer.

The goal of the Conference is to improve and strengthen national mechanisms for fight against trafficking in human beings in Serbia as well as the awareness rising and drawing attention of key policy makers to international obligations the state has assumed in this field.

The conference gathered numerous participants – representatives of national institutions, including MPs, relevant Ministries, judicial organs and civil society, renowned experts and international organizations.

One of the participants, Ivica Dačić, Minister of the Interior, stated that during past few years the Serbian police accomplished significant results in combating trafficking in human beings, having discovered a large number of cases and identified victims.

According to Dačić, the alarmingly high number of persons under age of 18 has been identified as victims of human trafficking.

“In order to be more successful we need to establish stronger and more official partnerships between state actors and nongovernmental and international organizations at the national level, as well as at regional, European and international level”, Dačić said.

Ms Slavica Žukić-Dejanović, Speaker of the Serbian Parliament said that the Parliament plays a significant role in implementation of the national mechanism in the field of prevention of human trafficking because without concrete laws being adopted there can be no protection of victims or successful processing of those who exploit the others.

She reminded the participants that Serbian Parliament adopted several laws which provided basis for the state authorities to fight trafficking in human beings. She also pointed out that the Parliament has a control function and that there are MPs who are members of department committees to monitor how the law is applied in certain areas.

Dimitrios Kypreos, Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, warned that there are still misconceptions regarding the nature of trafficking in human beings and  victims of this crime.

“Many people think that the victims are only women from abroad who have been kidnapped or sold. Unfortunately the fact is that a large number of victims identified in Serbia are actually Serbian nationals. It is true that women and girls are the most vulnerable category. However, there is a growing number of persons who are being exploited for the forced labor. Men can also become victims of trafficking in human beings, while children still represent the most vulnerable category” said Kipreos.

Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia Vincent Degert said that trafficking of human beings is one of the most hideous crimes.

“It is a crime which violates basic human rights, rights of child and human dignity. Every year there are 700.000 women and children who become victims of human trafficking. Most of them are 15-24 years old. Another inglorious number needs to be mentioned – 44 percent of victims are sexually exploited. Every year around 100.000 women in Europe are forcedly pushed into this kind of exploitation and many of them passed through so called Balkan route”, said Deger.

Appalling statistics

Like many countries in the world Serbia is recognized as a country of origin, transit and destination of human trafficking victims.

During the last year the Agency for Coordination of Protection of Trafficking Victims identified twice and a half more victims then in 2008. At the web site of the non-governmental organization which fights human trafficking – ASTRA – the figures say that the victims were mostly women and 90 percent Serbian nationals.

Human trafficking aims to sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, begging, forced marriage, forcing into criminal activities.

Beside women, victims of human trafficking are more and more often children and men, and during the last years, according to ASTRA, there is a trend of internal human trafficking in Serbia. The internal trafficking of human beings means that the whole process –  from recruitment to exploitation –  is taking place in one country.

During 2009 the police have brought 51 criminal charges in which 85 persons appear as injured parties – 79 citizens of Serbia and 7 foreigners.

Every year more than half million people become victims of human trafficking. This problem is particularly present in the Balkans because of the militarization of the region, its geographical position and a hard economic situation, says the representative of ASTRA.

The estimates are that several hundreds of thousands of women victims of human trafficking arrive to Europe every year. The annual economic gain from sexual exploitation of women is more than 12 bn dollars.

Men are most often victims of forced labor, women are victims of prostitution and children are forced to begging or sold to families who do not have children of their own.

The EU Commission proclaimed October 18th for the European Anti-trafficking day.

Commemoration of this day is important in regards to prevention and fight against human trafficking, as well as for awareness raising about this phenomenon which represents one of the most serious violations of human rights.

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