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International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

On the occasion of marking the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery ASTRA published a press release in order to emphasize the problems that we are dealing with in the context of the refugee’s crisis.

For 30 years from now International Day for the Abolition of Slavery recalls the adoption of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others of December 2, 1949.

What marked the anti-trafficking field in Serbia in 2015 is a decrease in the number of identified victims and the lack of systemic solutions for the problem of identifying victims of human trafficking among refugee population. On the internal front, Serbia’s authorities have made several important steps aimed at improving some of the proclaimed policies in the area of prevention and combating of human trafficking, and protection of victim’s rights, but there is still not only room but also a necessity for improvement of mechanisms in all aspects of this social phenomenon.

The official data shows that the number of identified victims in 2015 is around 30, which is significantly less than in the previous years. The most frequent purpose of human trafficking was sexual exploitation which affected women and children. There is a dilemma whether a small number of identified victims is a result of the absence of proactive approach to identification of victims of trafficking or the number of victims is really decreased. This question is especially relevant in the light of a big number of refugees that are transiting Serbia and their vulnerability (people running from war, violence, poverty and discrimination are forced to leave their homes and consciously expose them to the risk of being exploited and deceived). Identification of victims among this population is especially deficient, because frontline workers are not sensitized and educated enough to recognize and to properly react in contact with (possible) victims. Further, the refugees are not staying long enough in the country for the process of identification to be properly conducted, while any reporting of violence and exploitation from their side would only interrupt their journey to the destination country, which is why they choose not to report any crime.

However, the Republic of Serbia has to be prepared for changes in the refugee crisis, their longer stay in Serbia and in the light of that to develop integration programs for persons who are in risk of exploitation and abuse.

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