The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights discussed Serbia’s third periodic report at meetings in late February and adopted concluding remarks in early March. Numerous organizations, including ASTRA, have contributed to the development of this report from the perspective of their respective areas, reporting on the situation in combating trafficking in human beings.
Here are the CONCLUDING OBSERVATION regarding human trafficking, improving the position and respecting the rights of victims, and the specific case of potential human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation of Vietnamese workers engaged in the construction of the Linglong tire factory.
The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to make free legal aid available and accessible to all persons in need. In particular, it recommends that the State party:
- (a) Ensure that the eligible persons receive quality free legal aid regardless of their place of residence by strengthening the capacity of local governments;
- (b) Provide clear guidelines to local authorities as to the procedure for the provision of free legal aid by civil society organizations, including the eligibility criteria for free legal aid;
- (c) Raise public awareness on the availability of free legal aid and the application procedure, particularly among workers in social welfare centres and disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, including women, young people, persons with disabilities, Roma, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, internally displaced persons, and victims of human trafficking.
Business and economic, social and cultural rights
Owing to incidents of human rights abuses from, inter alia, human trafficking, mining operations and work benefits discrimination, involving activities of corporations of the State Party, the Committee notes with grave concern the absence of a policy framework to ensure that business entities respect rights and provide effective remedies under the Covenant.
Trafficking in persons
While welcoming the establishment of the Centre for Protection of Human Trafficking Victims, the Committee remains concerned about allegations of trafficking and economic exploitation; the lack of support and protection provided to victims of trafficking; and the insufficient level of funding allocated to the prevention of trafficking in persons. (Art. 6)
The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, in particular, by:
- (a) Ensuring adequate training of law enforcement officers and the judiciary with a view to improving early identification of victims;
- (b) Improving the protection and physical, psychological and legal support for victims, in coordination with civil society organizations;
- (c) Allocating sufficient funding to the prevention of trafficking in persons and the support for victims.
The Committee is concerned about the narrow scope of labour inspections carried by the Labour Inspectorate, which has led to the situations such as the case of workers at the Linglong Tyre Plant in which violation of labour regulations was not detected despite a number of labour inspections carried out. It is also concerned about the limited powers and capacity of Labour Inspectorate to effectively carry out its mandate (Art.7).
The full text of ECOSOC’s concluding observations in Serbian and English can be found here:
In the coming period, ASTRA will monitor the implementation of the given recommendations.