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ASTRA’s new publication: JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS – Practicum for judges and public prosecutors

In the year marking the twentieth anniversary of the Palermo Protocol and the twentieth anniversary of ASTRA, we publish this publication to contribute to additional education and sensitization of judges and public prosecutors involved in decision-making in cases related to trafficking. Numerous associates, who participated in the development of this handbook, have been dealing with human trafficking for years, both in practice and through their academic work. We hope that their valuable experiences, which are a large part of this publication, will be of great help to judges and prosecutors in identifying victims of trafficking and their needs.

From the very beginning of its work, ASTRA provided victims with information about their rights. Besides, victims of trafficking who participated in criminal proceedings as witnesses or victims also received the necessary support to cope with all the difficult moments during that stressful period.

Since 2009, ASTRA has established cooperation with law faculties throughout Serbia. We tried to make students who have participated in the work of legal clinics more familiar with the procedures for the crime of trafficking in human beings and enable them to follow the trial for this criminal act and other related acts. Also, they participated in the gathering and analysis of final court judgments.

Many years of work with human trafficking victims have shown us that nothing can strengthen the victim as a fair treatment in the system’s institutions while respecting all of their guaranteed rights. That is why we have, from the beginning of our work, paying particular attention to the education and sensitization of professionals who can come into contact with victims of human trafficking, to understand better the trauma to which the victim was exposed and its consequences. This Practicum for Judges and Public Prosecutors, which we have developed in cooperation with our associates, both professionals, and practitioners, who have been dealing with human trafficking for years, is a compilation of knowledge and experiences gained during many years of work.

The Practicum is divided into six sections, which deal with various aspects related to the topic of trafficking: domestic and international normative framework, through the relationship between the crime of trafficking in human beings and other similar crimes, and the largest chapter on the rights of victims of trafficking in the national and international law, concluding with a chapter on the different types of trauma that victims of trafficking go through. This publication seeks to look interdisciplinary at the legal and humanistic framework of criminal proceedings through which victims of trafficking go. It contains rich illustrations and numerous examples from practice.

These are our associates responsible for understanding and presenting the international and national legislative framework, through the prism of law, which must be guaranteed to victims at all stages of criminal proceedings, regarding relevant court practice: Radmila Dragicevic Dicic, Slobodan Josimovic, Dejana Spasojevic Ivancic and Marija Andjelkovic, under the guidance of the editor of the Practicum, professor Milan Zarkovic. Each of the authors has many years of experience working with victims of trafficking, and they are great fighters for improving the victim’s position in the judicial system.

Without a precise humanistic approach and a better understanding of the traumas victims of trafficking go through and their reflection on the court proceedings, it is impossible to talk about this topic comprehensively. The authors Biljana Slavkovic and Marija Vukasinovic are responsible for this kind of approach in this publication.

The publication was presented to the public on November 2 at the Belgrade Media Center. The event consisted of two panels: the first panel was dedicated to showing the results of the analysis of judicial practice on the position of victims of trafficking in human beings during court proceedings in 2019. Besides sharing the information on the procedure’s characteristics, the editor and author of the publication presented the most important conclusions and recommendations for improving court practice. Within the second panel, the participants were addressed by authors of the “JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS – Practicum for Judges and Prosecutors.” They explained its content and value of this publication and pinpointed some recommendations.

We owe special gratitude to the Embassy of the United States of America, which within the ASTRA project, “Strengthening the capacity and joint response of the anti-trafficking system and a holistic approach to working with victims,” supported the making of this publication and recognized the practical value of the Practicum in practice.

We hope that publication will be of use to many professionals from the judicial system and to all those who can directly or indirectly contribute to improving the position of victims of trafficking. We intend to distribute the Practicum to courts and public prosecutor’s offices throughout Serbia. E-version is also available on our website.

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