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In this reporting period, the implementation of formal activities in certain areas from cluster 1 in Serbia continued at an accelerated pace, especially in connection with the constitutional changes of the justice system. The reason for that, besides delays and fulfillment of the revised deadlines, is the extraordinary parliamentary and regular presidential elections announced for the spring of 2022 and the desire for new clusters to finally open in the accession negotiations after two years of stagnation. Compensating for lost time with last-minute reforms is not conducive to democratic processes.

While in the field of migration, Serbia was praised in the annual report of the European Commission, the fight against high-level corruption and organized crime showed weaker results, despite the declared “war against the mafia.” Two dialogues on electoral conditions have produced inadequate, even illegal, solutions. Apart from the election rules, the referendum rules are being cut urgently at the last minute. Furthermore, the withdrawn draft law on internal affairs showed a worrying vision of police reform.

These topics were the focus of the conference, where the speakers were:

  • Jelena Pejić Nikić, Belgrade Center for Security Policy, report editor
  • Vladimir Petronijević, Group 484
  • Zlatko Minić, Transparency Serbia
  • Bojan Elek, Belgrade Center for Security Policy

The discussion was moderated by Vesna Radojević, a journalist from KRIK.

Considering fighting human trafficking, most of the activities listed in the Action Plan for Chapter 24, concerning trafficking in human beings, have been delayed or late. There have been announcements of the adoption of relevant laws for more than a year now, yet as it seems, this would not be realized in the end, or the public hearing and discussions would be quite short. The National Analysis of Services for Human Trafficking Victims confirms the assumptions that these services are few and of questionable quality, efficiency, and sustainability. Centre for the Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking has been overburdened as usual, thus of questionable efficiency. Adequate accommodation remains a weak spot in victim’s protection: the only state-owned Shelter for trafficked women was closed, while no accommodation for male victims exists. The cases that ASTRA’s Victim Support Unit encounters are increasingly complex and demanding, while public funding of the support and services has been missing for 20 years now.

At the presentation of Alarm, the opportunity was used to look at the current case of potential human trafficking for labor exploitation in the Linglong company and the ignorant attitude of the state towards that problem. Jasmina Krunić from ASTRA reminded that the state of Serbia did not react to previous similar cases. She reminded present participants of the large case of labor exploitation of workers from Serbia, Bosnia, and Northern Macedonia in Azerbaijan (SerbAz, 2009-2011) and the case of exploitation workers from India in Serbia (2019-2020), when adequate reactions of competent institutions and individuals were also lacking. Having in mind, the current great media attention focused on the events in the Linglong factory, as well as the large number of civil society organizations involved, as well as the fact that it is impossible to deport workers to Vietnam, which was closed due to the Covid pandemic, that there is reason to hope that the case of the exploitation of workers from Vietnam will not pass without any reactions from the competent Serbian institutions.

  • Follow relevant EU strategic and operative frameworks, take broad approaches and solutions applicable in Serbia, and maximize opportunities for non-EU countries’ participation and networking;
  • Engage all relevant institutions (ministries) and, following the existing procedures, start the process of amending the legislative framework to align it with the Acquis in the field of prevention and combating trafficking in human beings;
  • Prepare and adopt by-laws ensuring the minimum of activity and standards to be fulfilled by the institutions dealing with anti-trafficking issues, particularly those that provide support to victims, especially when it comes to supporting during the state of emergency, limited access to institutions and organisations due to pandemic related risks, etc.
  • Invest efforts and resources in capacity building and strengthening of the Centre for the Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings, starting from the staffing issues and further elaborate and clarifying the role of the Centre within the entire social welfare system (cooperation, coordination, ordinance);
  • Re-establish the work of the Shelter of the Center for the Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings as soon as possible;
  • Improve reporting on the scope, type, level, length, and efficiency of support services provided to survivors of trafficking in human beings and continuously update an overview of the lacking services to plan them and obtain funds for their implementation;
  • Plan resources for further development and improvement of services for victims of trafficking, equally involving civil society organizations with experience in this field and fully utilizing all available capacities to make the range of services more adequate and their quality better;
  • Build capacities and networking of various actors on online child exploitation and strengthen multiagency cooperation regarding online and offline protection of the children who are at high risk of abuse and exploitation;
  • Strengthen effective and efficient labor and market inspection and their monitoring of sectors at risk, and suppress unethical and exploitative practices;
  • Continue to improve the referral of survivors of THB using all available capacities and resources including those of CSOs;
  • Conduct proactive, independent investigation in the “Jagodina case” and provide full support and protection to all potential victims.

Full report you can find here!

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