Basic aim of the analysis was to overview the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings, in order to be able to estimate the state of harmonization of domestic legislation with international standards in the field, efficiency and implementation of the existing legislation in practice, uniformity of judicial practice, as well as the effect of the implemented trainings for judiciary employees, all with the purpose of improving the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings.
The analysis of legal practice is based on monitoring court trials for the crime of trafficking and on quantitative and qualitative analysis of court decisions issued in the course of 2013 in criminal court proceedings, either by first or second instance courts. A total of 39 criminal courts’ judgments were analysed which, among other things, dealt with human trafficking, 16 of which being first instance judgements and 23 appellate courts’ judgements. In analysing court decisions, the parameters crucial for the assessment of victims’ position were used, with the emphasis on the data on the victim and his/her hearing, decision on compensation claims, as well as the type and severity of penalties. Special attention in this section of the analysis was given to a final decision adopted in civil proceedings, which was the basis for the first ever compensation claim awarded and paid to a human trafficking victim in Serbia.
Results of the judicial practice analysis indicate that the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings has not been significantly improved compared to what was evidenced by the 2011-2012 analyses, as there are still substantial challenges in realizing full protection of and respect for the rights of the victims before court. Legislation in the field of prosecution and criminal proceedings, largely harmonized with international standards, does not achieve its full and consistent implementation in practice. Basic rights of victims, such as the right to protection of privacy, right to assistance, counselling and informing about the rights and entitlement to free legal aid, as well as right to safety and compensation are still not realized to the extent which would provide minimum standard of protection to the victims of this serious crime.