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First legally binding and final ruling of a court in Bosnia and Hercegovina on a damage claim for victims of human trafficking

After a few years, a litigation procedure has been finished related to the right to compensation of an ASTRA’s client in the Magistrate Court in Doboj, which has been the first legally binding and final ruling of a court in Bosnia and Hercegovina on a damage claim for victims of human trafficking. In the first-instance proceeding, the Magistrate Court in Doboj had ruled out the claim, after which an appellate court accepted the appeal and returned the case for a re-trial. After four years, in the re-trail proceedings, the Magistrate Court in Dobojaccepted the claim of the prosecution and ruled that the defendants should, as a compensation for non-material damage for suffered emotional pain due to damaged dignity, respect, freedom, individual rights and dignity and suffered terror, pay to the victims around 18.000 KM  (around 9000 EUR).

It is laudable that in the proceedings prior to the positive ruling, there was no additional victimization of the plaintiffs and they were not additionally interrogated as parties in the litigation, although the defendants constantly requested that, so there was no additional medical expertise procedure, however, it was proposed in the re-trial and accepted by the court, that the expertise was based on the facts and proofs from the criminal proceedings.

The victims of trafficking in the mentioned proceedings were citizens of the Republic of Serbia, who said that an acquaintance from Serbia had deceived them by fraudulent promises and brought them to Bosnia and Hercegovina. They were convinced they would work as waitresses and /or as cleaners in a hotel in a town in Serbia, but he, without their knowledge and consent, took them to Bosnia. There, he passed them and sold them to an owner of an object where they were sexually exploited. The owner of the place threatened them by physical violence and forced them to provide sexual services. He also confiscated their IDs and travel documents. Clients were found by his waitress, who together with him, kept the girls locked in. The girls did not have the freedom to move – they could not go alone even to the shop. He took them by his car every day to the place where they offered sexual services, exclusively in the way the clients requested, and for the money given directly to the owner. If any of the clients complained of the services they had received, or if a girl refused to provide the service, the owner would, together with his accomplice, i.e. the waitress, beat them and threaten to kill them, and it happened that his threats came true in the most brutal way.

In the criminal proceedings before the court in Bosnia and Hercegovina, the owner was convicted, in 2013, to 4 years in prison for the criminal offence of trafficking in human beings. After she pleaded guilty, his accomplice was tried in a separate proceeding and in 2012 she was convicted to two years in prison.

The litigation proceedings were made possible by the non-governmental organizations Your Rights and MFS EMMAUS from Bosnia and Hercegovina, and ASTRA, and they provided legal aid, psychological, medical and other types of assistance to the victims during the proceedings.


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