Source: Danas, 29/06/2011
Author: M. D. Milikić
– Serbia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, it is said in the latest US State department’s TIP Report. Serbian citizens still make the majority of identified victims, while foreign victims found in Serbia originate primarily from neighboring countries and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
The Report also finds that the Government of Serbia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so in order to enhance and institutionalize its anti-trafficking response.
Ivana Radović from NGO ASTRA says for “Danas” that Serbia, like many other countries, has been recognized as the country of origin, transit and destination of victims of human trafficking. According to this organization’s data, 89 persons were identified as trafficking victims in Serbia in 2010 and 127 in 2009.
– Victims are mostly women and children, although there has been an increasing number of male victims in recent years. Men are most often victims of forced labor, usually at construction sites, women are forced into prostitution and children are exposed to forced begging, forced adoption and criminal offences, says Ms. Radović. She adds that the average age of children to whom ASTRA provided assistance is 14.7 years, while adults are recruited mostly at the age 18-25.
In the recommendations for Serbia, the State Department says that the implementation of procedures for the identification of victims should be improved, while those involved in human trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation should be subjected to stringent prosecution and sentencing.
– According to data we have obtained from the courts in our country based on the free access to information of public importance, only five final and enforceable judgments for human trafficking offences were rendered in 2010. There is also a problem of accommodation of children identified as trafficking victims, since there is no specialized shelter for trafficked children in the existing mechanism, stressed Ms. Radović. She added that fight against human trafficking is one of the conditions for Serbia’s accession to the EU, for which reason our country is obliged to pass certain laws and regulations relevant for tackling this problem. However, some of the laws that are passed are not in favor of the victims.
– Serbia still does not allocate budgetary funds for combating human trafficking, while victims most often are provided with one-time financial assistance. For this reason, many victims do not have possibility to continue their lives outside the trafficking chain, said Ms. Radović.
All trafficking victims have access to free legal aid through ASTRA SOS Hotline 011/3347-817.