Public Policy and Advocacy
The basis of all our activities = advocacy
Beneficiaries of ASTRA support services are people at risk and victims of human trafficking. The forms of exploitation and treatment to which they are exposed are among the worst violations of basic human rights. Once the victim finally manages to break out of the chain of trafficking and exploitation, a long and often uncertain journey through support systems begins, with the aim to provide for the victim’s recovery and return to normal life.
How do we work?
ASTRA has 20 years of experience in providing support and assistance to victims of trafficking, as well as close cooperation with all those who are active in the prevention and combating trafficking in human beings in Serbia and beyond. All this time, ASTRA monitors the adoption of laws and bylaws and their implementation, participates in the development of strategies and action plans in this and related areas, and monitors what victims go through during the traffickers’ trials.
Why do we do this?
Because it is clear that human trafficking is a very complex and layered phenomenon and it can be fought only if a comprehensive approach is applied – direct relationship, cooperation and support to victims, participation in working groups of ministries and other institutions, monitoring the work of the institutions dealing with victim support and indicating the ways of work and approach that should be improved, designing research, making analyses, compiling “shadow reports”, as well as reacting to actions and processes that we consider inadequate.
What exactly does that mean?
“Policy“ and “advocacy“ are terms which encompass the following:
- Policy: careful monitoring of public policies, legislative framework, bylaws and solutions, as well as specific practices of institutions, organizations and agencies in the field of combating trafficking in human beings, and
- Advocacy: focusing on a specific problem, exploring opportunities for improvement, developing a concrete proposal for improvement, and representing that proposal to all important anti-trafficking actors.
ASTRA designs independent advocacy activities (Victim Compensation Fund, National Rapporteur on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and others), participates in joint advocacy activities with partner organizations (coalition prEUgovor, Anti-trafficking network, Women against Violence Network), and is a member of numerous international networks and initiatives (La Strada, GAATW, Missing Children Europe etc.).
ASTRA regularly contributes to annual reports on Serbia’s progress in the process of joining the European Union (EU Progress Report), reports on human trafficking of the US State Department (TIP report), initiatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), reports and recommendations of United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms, and else.
In addition, ASTRA, in cooperation with several other organizations dedicated to the promotion of women’s human rights in Serbia, regularly reports to the CEDAW Committee (UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) on the position of women and girls in Serbia, from the perspective of our work, i.e. the anti-trafficking perspective, and points to improper practices in the society – violations of women’s human rights, insufficient or inadequate response of the state and various public systems, etc. – and monitors the implementation of the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee in order to mitigate these irregular practices.
What is the GOAL of monitoring public policies, legislative framework and advocacy activities?
Our mission is to eradicate all forms of exploitation and trafficking in human beings, especially women and children. To achieve this goal, we strive to combat trafficking in human beings and to constantly request that the authorities strengthen preventive activities, and if exploitation occurs, we believe that every victim has a full right to quality, adequate, comprehensive and sustainable support and assistance until he/she recovers enough to return to normal life.